To the editor:
Last week, Amazon announced Northern Virginia was one of 20 sites in North America to be selected for the next round of consideration as it looks for a second headquarters, known as HQ2. While there are significant aspects of this pursuit yet to play out — foremost among those being a public engagement process — we need to first acknowledge this is a tremendous development for our region, and Alexandria is well-poised to play a key role in bringing Amazon to our area.
For years, Alexandria elected officials and community leaders, including me, have called for initiatives to diversify our economy. Attracting Amazon is the kind of opportunity we should seize to do just that.
It’s the right direction for Alexandria and consistent with planning that’s already been done in a number of areas around the city. The most recent shutdown of the federal government is also a stark reminder that we must continually work to diversify our employment base beyond the federal presence; doing so can only strengthen our fiscal position in order to exceed the expectations of our residents that Alexandria must deliver world-class services.
I’ll be the first to admit that “diversify our economy” isn’t exactly the rallying cry of a social movement, so let’s be clear: attracting major employers like Amazon is essential if we are to meet the very real challenges we face. Challenges that include improving and investing in our school and municipal infrastructure, getting all Alexandrians connected to the
internet, increasing pay for public safety and local civil servants and meeting our own environmental sustainability goals. In other words, the pursuit of Amazon and other large employers to make Alexandria their home is a means to an end: an improved quality of life for all Alexandrians. That should be the first and last measure for attracting major employers like Amazon to our city.
Alexandria may not be selected as the location for Amazon’s newest headquarters, but that shouldn’t stop us from working to attract it and other companies like it to become part of our city’s history and the fabric of our future. Amazon — one of the most successful companies in the world — has recognized Alexandria as one of 20 cities or regions in North America to offer the workforce, livability standards, access to transit and transportation and educational resources that it believes make strong, vibrant communities for its employees. That’s amazing, is a credit to community we’ve built and bodes well for our future.
-Dak Hardwick, Candidate for Alexandria City Council