In June 2019, we opened our first office in Arlington, Virginia. This was an exciting step for us, signaling the start of new jobs and investment coming into the region. While development of our permanent office buildings steadily moves from design concept to concrete and steel, we have been growing our teams that will help create the next Amazon innovation. There are now many ways we are calling Arlington home.
More than 1,000 employees
Amazon remains committed to filling the 25,000 roles projected for HQ2 with diverse talent from across the region. Although offices have been quiet for the past several weeks due to COVID-19, our hiring has continued as planned. We have virtually onboarded scores of talented people and recently welcomed our 1,000th employee in Arlington. Among our new hires are lifelong Northern Virginia resident Lakshmi Kopparam, one of the first software development engineers to join the Amazon Fire TV team in Arlington, and McCoy Jamison, who formerly served in the U.S. Navy and just began his role as a solutions architect with Amazon Web Services. Kopparam and Jamison are working alongside a group of senior engineers who are building a best-in-class technology culture at Amazon and contributing to the region's growing tech ecosystem. Within the first wave of hires is a program lead who has been tasked with ensuring our HQ2 workforce is inclusive and diverse. This person will implement recruiting and HR best practices and initiatives designed to ensure inclusiveness in our products and offerings.
Digging in and cementing our commitment
This spring we reached another important milestone—the groundbreaking of our own new office buildings, the first phase of transforming HQ2 from renderings into reality. Construction has begun in earnest, and we look forward to when we can gather safely with our new friends and neighbors to celebrate the progress. We know that quality of life is what makes Arlington a special place to live, work, and play, so we are working with our development partners and Arlington County to design public green spaces around our new campus with input from the citizens of Arlington. There are more than two and a half acres of land in need of redevelopment, and the landscape architects recently unveiled the final draft design concept to transform this area into a retreat for both lively recreation and peaceful respite. Once public feedback is incorporated, the Arlington County Board will review the proposal and Amazon will fund the revitalization and ongoing maintenance of the new park.
Supporting the community
As we continue to get to know our Arlington neighbors, we've engaged with more than 100 non-profit and community groups. Prior to COVID-19, we enjoyed getting to know the community in person, and right now, we're sticking to virtual community-building until it's safe to participate in local events and in-person activities again. Since the start of this year, we’ve supported local initiatives in a variety of ways:
- Donated $3.9 million to CodeVA to help expand computer science education for students and teachers at high needs schools across Virginia, especially in rural areas. Pamela Northam, the First Lady of Virginia, helped us announce the donation which came from Amazon Future Engineer—Amazon's childhood-to-career program aimed at expanding computer science access to students from underserved and underrepresented communities across the country.
- Supported technology in education through multiple measures, including: providing financial assistance to the Arlington Public School system to purchase hundreds of WiFi hot spots to help students access virtual learning coursework, delivering WiFi hot spots directly to Arlington students in need, and donating tablet devices to the Child and Family Networks Center, an Arlington-based non-profit focused on promoting education within at-risk communities.
- Kick-started emergency COVID-19 response funds for four nonprofits in the Washington, D.C. area with a $1 million donation, providing grants to address food insecurity, housing and shelter, and emergency financial assistance.
- Gave $155,000 to Arlington and Washington D.C. food banks, including DC Central Kitchen, Capital Area Food Bank, Martha's Table, Central Union Mission, and Arlington Food Assistance Center amid COVID-19. Amazon Web Services (AWS) also donated $75,000 to food service providers in the region.
- Provided 10,000 meals through our "Meals in May" program, which paid local restaurants to prepare and deliver lunches and dinners to first responders, frontline healthcare workers, and our vulnerable neighbors throughout the month. This initiative not only ensured our HQ2 community received hearty meals, it also helped local restaurants bring more employees back to work.
- Funded delivery services to provide more than 50,000 meals—60,000 pounds of food—directly to the doorsteps of DC-area seniors and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 using our network of Amazon Flex drivers. This initiative is part of an overall partnership with local food banks to help deliver millions of meals to vulnerable and underserved populations across the U.S.
- Worked with college alumni and students to donate items to campus food pantries at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the region for students who were unable to return home due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Supplied thousands of much-needed items, including hygiene and cleaning products, shelf-stable food, school supplies and activities, and more, to ten nonprofits across the Washington, D.C. area who are helping those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
A sustainable development
Reducing environmental impact in Virginia has factored heavily in the design and development of Amazon's second headquarters since the start. In addition to setting a sustainability goal of achieving LEED Platinum certification for HQ2, we also stand by our pledge to power our new campus with 100% renewable energy. Earlier this year, we unveiled plans for a new solar farm in Pittsylvania County in Virginia to make this possible. While about two-thirds of the renewable energy generated will go to power HQ2 and other Amazon-owned operations across Virginia, including Whole Foods Markets and fulfillment centers, Amazon partnered with Arlington County on the project to help the county reach its community energy plan goals. The project is planned for completion by the first quarter of 2022. This solar facility expands on a number of renewable energy projects already located in the Commonwealth of Virginia.