When Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy for the Seattle-based internet retailer and technology company Amazon.com (Amazon), prepared to meet economic-development officials and community leaders from Arlington, Virginia, in the wake of the company's February 2019 decision to pull a second headquarters location out of New York City, a lot was on the line.
Facing a limit on its growth in Seattle, Amazon had embarked on a search for a second corporate headquarters, dubbed HQ2, in September 2017, and ultimately surprised the country when it announced its decision to split its HQ2 into two locations, Arlington and New York City, in late 2018. New York ultimately failed to give Amazon the warm welcome it was looking for, so Amazon focused solely on Arlington to claim the "biggest economic development prize in recent memory."
Amazon was making a huge commitment to Arlington—including plans to develop up to eight million square feet of office space and hire 25,000 employees (each with an average salary higher than $100,000) over the next 15 years —one that would make it the region's largest private-sector employer. Huseman wanted to be sure Virginia was fully prepared to create the right ecosystem for Amazon's HQ2 to thrive. How should the e-retail giant approach the meeting, considering what could be asked of it—and what it should request in return?