Arlington and Alexandria laid the groundwork at a joint work session for cooperating to support inclusive growth and address the impact that Amazon’s HQ2 and the planned Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is already having on the two communities.
In a joint meeting of the Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council on October 1, the two legislative bodies voiced support for a Statement of Principles to guide their partnership on key policy issues, including developing and protecting affordable housing; assisting small, woman- and minority-owned businesses; and expanding workforce development.
“Arlington and Alexandria are doubling down on a long history of collaboration,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “Our next step will be to develop joint work structures to ensure the growth we both have planned for will be inclusive, equitable and fair.”
“It’s clear from our conversation last night that Alexandria and Arlington are committed to working together to benefit all our residents and businesses,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said. “Now it’s time to put together a formal framework to address the many opportunities and challenges we face.”
Amazon’s HQ2 campus is expected to add 25,000 jobs and millions of square feet of office space in Pentagon City and Crystal City over the next decade. The headquarters will rise just across the border from Alexandria, where the Virginia Tech Innovation campus will be built in Potomac Yards.
In a facilitated discussion the 12 elected officials focused on principles and key policy areas meant to ensure that the benefits of the new facilities will serve everyone in their communities. They also agreed that the pressures already being felt on the housing market in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yards require urgent action.
“I want to be clear that we are not just talking about affordable housing concerns writ large,” Dorsey said. “We are talking about the very micro-effects of how this investment can impact communities close” to the new facilities, and about “preventing the involuntary displacement of people who have made these communities their homes. We will be too slow to deal with displacement if we wait to simply react.”
Noting that there are already unprecedented regional cooperation efforts underway that include building more housing, improving the transportation network and developing the regional workforce, the group agreed that those efforts can be enhanced and expanded through closer collaboration between Arlington and Alexandria.
The goal, outlined in a memorandum from Dorsey and Wilson that served as the basis for the discussion, is to develop a formal structure to facilitate future work together and leverage federal, state, nonprofit and foundation resources. Joint structures could include civic leaders, policy experts and stakeholders in both jurisdictions.
Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz and Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks pledged to develop proposals for joint work structures, based on the agreed principles and policy issues.
This release is also available at https://www.alexandriava.gov/111603.