Chamber holds State of Business meeting

Chamber holds State of Business meeting
The audience at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce's 2019 State of Business meeting. (Courtesy Photo)

By Missy Schrott |

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of Business meeting at the Alexandria Hilton Mark Center on Tuesday morning.

During the meeting, a panel of National Landing speakers discussed Amazon and Virginia Tech, the chamber announced a rebranding and outgoing board chair Charlotte Hall of Potomac Riverboat Company passed the baton to incoming 2020 chair Dave Millard of Avison Young.

The featured panelists of the Amazon discussion were Matt Kelly, chief executive officer of JBG Smith; Holly Sullivan, director of World Wide Economic Development of Amazon; and Brandy Salmon, managing director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

The three gave updates related to their respective roles with National Landing, discussing steps that have been taken in 2019 and what to expect in the coming years.

Amazon already has about 400 employees in an office space it is leasing from JBG Smith in Crystal City, according to Sullivan. This weekend, a site plan review of the Amazon headquarters is going before the Arlington County Board.

“Once the site plan review is hopefully approved on Saturday, then we will move forward with actually breaking ground on the development site, which is right behind the Whole Foods in … Pentagon City, for our initial 2.1 million square feet,” Sullivan said.

It’s going to take about three years to build the first piece of the new headquarters, but Amazon plans to continue hiring employees during construction, with the goal of having about 1,000 employees by the end of summer 2020, Sullivan said.

When moderator Ken Broussard asked about the timeframe for hiring Amazon’s eventual 25,000 to 38,000-person workforce, Sullivan said, “Think about us hiring anywhere between 1,500 and 2,500 employees on an annual basis.”

Kelly said a lot of the design plans for the new headquarters have been informed by the goal of making the new National Landing neighborhood a multi-use community.

“When you think about the Crystal City neighborhood historically, it’s been viewed as more of a 9-to5 kind of neighborhood,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t have a ton of activity on weekends and the evenings and one of the reasons for that is it doesn’t have the ideal mix of multifamily and office and part of how we will address that is by building a lot more multifamily.”

The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard is also being designed as a mixed-use community, according to plans submitted to the city last month.

As for the campus’ progress, Salmon said the school took major steps last month alone.

“We’re making really great progress,” Salmon said. “The month of November, we submitted our plan, … the MOU with the state was signed, we’re getting close on hiring a vice president to run the campus, [the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia] approved our first master’s program and we launched our website to recruit students.”

Following the panel, Hall gave a speech applauding the growth in Alexandria’s business community that has taken place over the last year, including progress on the Potomac Yard Metro Station, new business openings in Carlyle and Eisenhower and the new Waterfront Park.

Hall also announced the chamber’s rebranding. With a new logo and an updated look, the chamber will now go by “The Chamber ALX.”

“As we roll into 2020, The Chamber ALX will be a channel to boost your brand, a resource to find opportunities to build relationships and the seal of approval to give your business credibility in our community, whether we’re advocating on behalf of businesses to local government, hosting events to help you connect with others, offering innovative business programming and resources or giving visibility to businesses that Alexandrians should know about,” Hall said.

Following the rebranding announcement, various chamber members were recognized for their work in 2019. Committee member of the year went to Adam Froemming, board member of the year went to Robert Shea and Hall’s chairman’s award went to Trae Lamond.