The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus was a core element of Virginia’s proposal to attract Amazon HQ2. Company executives this summer reiterated its importance in choosing Northern Virginia:
Many locations had current tech talent. What was unique about Virginia was its commitment to developing that long-term talent pipeline and closing the skills gap.Virginia is America’s Top State for Business in 2019 and Virginia Tech Plays Key Role in State’s Top Business Ranking)
The Innovation Campus is the most visible manifestation of Virginia’s long-term commitment. It is not a direct incentive to Amazon. In fact, plans for the campus pre-date the HQ2 process.
The state asked, ‘How can we create an enabling environment that is an attractive place for companies like Amazon to operate?’ It was an opportunity to drive diversification and innovation in the commonwealth with a direct investment back into the state.Innovation Campus Drives Progress
There are high hopes for the Innovation Campus and related initiatives that go well beyond Amazon’s operations. At a minimum, there will be more skilled graduates who can fill the pipeline at the region’s tech companies. Leaders also anticipate the campus will make Northern Virginia a more competitive option for tech workers, enhancing the region as a “leading magnet for tech talent” and improving talent retention. Officials also hope it will help spark discoveries, spur product innovation, inspire new companies, and perhaps “make the state a drastically more attractive landing spot for other existing companies and future startups.”
Innovation Campus Snapshot
The Innovation Campus will include 1 million square feet of classroom, research, office, incubator, housing and support space in Alexandria, VA. It is near the new Amazon HQ2 in adjacent Arlington, VA, but far from Virginia Tech’s home in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech will offer graduate-level courses in computer sciences and software engineering at the campus. Specialties are likely to include cybersecurity, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, data sciences, analytics and collective decisions, security and the internet of things, and technology and policy. The first degree to be offered will be a master’s of engineering in computer applications. Enrollment will ultimately reach 750 master’s degree students plus doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows.
The campus will be part of a larger mixed-used development, occupying 15 acres of a 65 acre site. The full site concept includes apartments and condominiums, retail and entertainment options, and public open spaces. Alexandria Economic Development and the City of Alexandria are also working to address transportation and housing impacts to “ensure the new development benefits, rather than causes hardship” for nearby residents.
We are especially proud of the Virginia and Arlington/Alexandria investment package for Amazon’s new HQ2 in National Landing, as the bulk of the state and local funding will be made in transportation, transit, housing and higher education assets. In Alexandria, the billion dollar Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is an opportunity for the City and property owners to create a much larger district that attracts companies, organizations and education groups focused on innovating and creating- and will be a regional and national draw for talent and investment.Stephanie Landrum, President & CEO, Alexandria Economic Development Partnership
- Virginia Tech formally announced the specific location and additional details about of its new campus in June. It will partner with Lionstone Investments to build the campus as part of the full 65-acre development. Construction is expected to take 10 years.
- The campus will open a temporary space in 2020 for 150 full-time and 65 part-time students.
- Virginia Tech issued an RFP this summer for design services for the campus’s first academic building. The contract is expected to be awarded later this year.
- Virginia has agreed to invest up to $375 million for master’s degrees in technology education at both Virginia Tech and the Arlington campus of George Mason University. The legislature appropriated $168 million this year to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech plans to provide $250 million from the institution and will raise another $500 million from philanthropic grants and industry partnerships.
- The Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council will hold a joint work session on October 1 to consider how to cooperate to manage the effects of the HQ2 and Virginia Tech investments.
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We also invite you to follow the links below to read the previous articles in our series on the incentive agreements for Amazon’s HQ2.