Loudoun Secures Reputation as Tech Giant

Written by Ben Alter and Chris Tuttle

Mastodon of online sales, Amazon, is scouting for a suitable location for their second headquarters, and Loudoun County is one of the final candidates. The number of candidate cities and regions for the location of Amazon’s ‘HQ2’, as it is coined, has dropped from 238 proposed cities inside the United States and Canada to only 20 remaining considered finalists. Many see one particular candidate, the joint Loudoun County and Fairfax County proposal, being the likely final location of the second Amazon Headquarters, possibly losing out to rival proposals from Montgomery County and Washington DC.

Should Loudoun County be the location of HQ2, the proposed site would be around Dulles, Virginia, just adjacent to Dulles International Airport, a relatively rural spot outside of Leesburg. The site will likely be built on a large plot of 26-acres of undeveloped land in this general vicinity, according to the Business Insider. Many also believe that Loudoun County is one of the best places for Amazon to put HQ2, as Washington’s Silver Line and Dulles Airport are a doorstep away from the proposed site, making traveling to and from the headquarters from all over the greater metropolitan area an easy task.

Loudoun County Department of Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer firmly believed that Loudoun County would be an optimal place for Amazon’s HQ2 In a 2017 LoudounNow newspaper article. “Loudoun County would be the perfect place for Amazon to locate their East Coast headquarters with our new metro stops, great access to Dulles Airport and an unmatched workforce. Loudoun checks all the boxes for any major corporate relocation.”

Amazon Web Services also have had a growing presence in Loudoun County with Amazon acquiring and contracting land for data centers in Sterling. These data centers will consequently be very close to the proposed HQ2 site and both would be near the “bull’s-eye” of America’s data traffic. On September 21, Microsoft purchased a 332 acres of land in Loudoun for 73 million dollars. Many presume that Microsoft will use this land as a host for data centers.

This deal could foreshadow larger business’ such as Amazon making a presence in Loudoun. Without a doubt, there are also some benefits the county will gain should the HQ2 be located in Loudoun County. The county will likely reap the benefit of money flowing into its private sector and would see the creation of high value jobs.

Woodgrove Math Teacher Sean Welsh is a firm supporter of Amazon HQ2 and argues that it will increase property values and bring an influx of job opportunities to the area. “I’m all for low unemployment, which if they’re going to bring in as many jobs as they say they’re going to, I’m for that,” he adamantly explains.

However, while there might be many economic advantages for Loudoun County as the seat of Amazon’s HQ2, many local officials are worried that the rural, quaint communities that Loudoun is so proud of will be ruined by the building of the second headquarters, as more and more people would move to the county and the demand for construction would skyrocket. The infrastructure would not be able to handle the surge of people who would flood the county and besides having to sit much longer in traffic, the financial impact for citizens of LoCo would be significant.

Al Van Huyck, the Current Chairman of Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition, believes that while the county could maintain the 50,000 possible additional employees and workers that would emigrate as a result of the building of the HQ2 office, he is concerned about the infrastructure in the county and the changes that might occur as result of the new building.

“Where do you cut the line? What’s the balance that allows Loudoun to take advantage of its development opportunity while maintaining quality of life for its residence?” he said. The Washington D.C area experienced a spectacle on September 13th at the ballroom of Washington Hilton, as Jeff Bezos made an interview appearance, though little information regarding HQ2 was leaked to the public. The location is said to be decided this year. Loudoun is holding its breath.

(Update: While Loudouners have been focused on the Amazon deal, at press time, Microsoft quietly purchased 332 acres near in Leesburg for $73 million dollars, securing Loudoun’s reputation as a leader in technology. Loudoun’s economic development director, Buddy Rizer, said in press releases, “Loudoun County continues to evolve as a technology location, and I’m confident this will be a successful campus.” The Outlander will continue to follow this story.)