MITRE, Fairfax County
Torc Robotics, Montgomery County
Accenture, Arlington County
America’s East Coast Tech Hub
WillowTree, Albemarle County
America’s East Coast Tech Hub Over the last few decades, the Commonwealth of Virginia has become one of North America’s premier locations for the tech sector. Thousands of tech firms and tech industry leaders have been attracted to Virginia by its combination of diverse, world-class talent, exceptional quality of life, attractive business climate, and competitive costs.
Why Virginia? 1 America’s Top State for Talent
3 Highest Concentration of Tech Talent in the United States
7 Largest U.S. Investment in CS Education
11 A Globally Diverse and Inclusive State
13 A Large and Diverse Tech Ecosystem
15 World-Class Talent at a Competitive Cost
19 An Exceptional Quality of Life
21 Largest Data Center Market in the World
25 Strategic Location for Global Connectivity
27 An Attractive, Stable, and Predictable Operating Environment
America’s Top State for Talent Ranked No. 2 in the U.S. for Education and No. 3 for Workforce by CNBC, Virginia has the best schools in the South (No. 4 in the U.S.) according to WalletHub, as well as one of the best higher education systems in the world (No. 1 in the U.S. according to SmartAsset). Additionally, Virginia ensures that tech firms can quickly attract and onboard high-quality workers by offering a world-class, customized talent acquisition solution through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program – or a grant from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) for companies that want to manage their own recruitment activities.
Being close to our customer base is extremely important to our ongoing collaborations. Our expansion [in Northern Virginia] will allow Microsoft to deliver even more solutions from a region known for its innovation and passion for technology. TERRELL COX General Manager, Microsoft Corporation
Microsoft Corporation, Fairfax County
Microsoft Corporation’s Expanding Virginia Footprint Microsoft, one of the largest internet service providers and developers of software programs in the world, has steadily expanded its presence in Virginia since 2002 with corporate locations in Reston and Henrico County in Greater Richmond, as well as a major enterprise data center in Mecklenburg County. In May 2020, Microsoft committed to investing $64 million in a state-of-the-art software development and R&D regional hub in Fairfax County, creating 1,500 new jobs. The decision to establish the new 400,000-squarefoot client-facing, “high-touch” workplace was driven ultimately by talent and access to customers. Northern Virginia’s robust workforce was a critical factor – the new operation would require a significant pool of highly skilled, technical cloud computing and AI talent. The Washington, D.C.-Metro area already provides access to the largest tech industry labor pool in the country. Virginia Tech’s $1 billion, 1 millionsquare-foot graduate Innovation Campus focused on technology will enroll 750 master’s candidates and hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows when complete, and a joint bachelor’s degree program in cloud computing from George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College
will ensure a long-term tech talent pipeline to meet the needs of existing and new technology businesses. Microsoft plans to use a $22.5 million custom performance grant from Virginia to fund partnerships with local colleges and universities to further develop the talent pipeline for cloud computing and related degrees in support of its expansion. Connectivity was also a key driver for Microsoft, which has first-hand knowledge of Virginia’s advantages for the data center industry – the company has expanded its Mecklenburg County site six times in 10 years as demand for cloud and online services continues to increase. One of the company’s core principles is using customer feedback to improve technology, and Northern Virginia’s position as a tech hub will allow Microsoft to continue close, collaborative partnerships with its rapidly growing customer base from the newest operation in Fairfax County. Microsoft is a global leader dedicated to digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. The company’s continued investment in the Commonwealth is a testament to the strength of Virginia’s tech talent and competitiveness on the national stage. 2
Highest Concentration of Tech Talent in the U
Virginia offers tech firms access to the highest concentration of tech talent and the third-largest tech industry workforce in the nation, with 315,000 people working in the tech sector and/or tech occupations. Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic location facilitates talent attraction from the entire Eastern Seaboard and beyond.
Amazon HQ2 Rendering, Arlington County
The Prime Location for HQ2 After a 14-month competitive site selection process during which Amazon received 238 proposals from communities across North America, the tech giant announced plans in 2018 to invest approximately $2.5 billion to establish a major new headquarters (HQ2) in Virginia, creating more than 25,000 high-paying jobs over the next 12 years. Virginia successfully secured the historic project through unprecedented state, regional, and local partnerships. The foundation of the cooperative pitch for Amazon HQ2 was centered on Virginia’s thriving tech sector and talent—including a commitment to a pipeline for the future.
We were particularly impressed by the dedication to higher education and the K-12 talent pipeline [in Virginia]. The investments the local community and the state are going to make are really going to augment the great talent pipeline, which is a primary reason why we chose the Commonwealth for this new headquarters. HOLLY SULLIVAN Head of Worldwide Economic Development, Amazon
In the two-plus years since Amazon selected Northern Virginia to be home to its highly sought-after HQ2, a vast innovation ecosystem has started to emerge. HQ2’s campus is taking root in National Landing, comprising portions of Arlington County and the city of Alexandria and overlooking the U.S. Capitol and the Potomac River. The sprawling community includes Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus, transportation infrastructure upgrades to prioritize pedestrian and bicycle traffic, significant retail and affordable housing investments, two 22-story towers currently under construction, and Metropolitan Park, a public open space including a dog park, art walk, and recreation areas. The second phase of new construction will be sustainable buildings surrounded by nature, including Amazon’s recently unveiled Helix — a distinctive double helix structure with two walkable paths of landscaped terrain spiraling up the outside of the building that will feature plants that could be found on a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia — and three LEED Platinum-certified, 22-story towers. Access to tech talent was a critical site selection factor, and hiring for HQ2 is picking up steam. After beginning virtual interviews in February 2020, Amazon has hired more than 1,600 employees and posted another 600 job listings for the HQ2 site.
Largest U.S. Investment in CS Education America’s Largest Investment in Tech Education
Through its historic, innovative Tech Talent Investment Program, the Commonwealth of Virginia, donors, and corporate partners are investing more than $2 billion to expand Virginia’s tech talent pipeline, doubling the number of graduates each year in computer science and closely related fields. Additionally, Virginia higher education institutions already produce roughly 12,000 tech-related degrees and certificates annually in areas ranging from computer science to modeling and simulation.
Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program
Tech Internship program for Higher Education Students Master’s-Level CS Education in Northern Virginia Statewide Bachelor’s-Level CS Education
Statewide community college Tech-Talent Education Strengthening the K-12 Tech Talent Pipeline Statewide
32,000 additional graduates in excess of current levels in Computer Science and related fields over the next 20 years due to Virginia’s new education investments in tech talent
Thanks to the support from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program, Virginia Tech is creating a bold, new vision for graduate education in computer science and computer engineering that will unlock the power of diverse people and ideas to solve the world’s most pressing problems through technology. Located adjacent to the nation’s capital in Alexandria, Virginia Tech’s new $1 billion, 1 million-square-foot graduate Innovation Campus will unite industry, government, and academia in dynamic project-based learning and research to shape the way knowledge and emerging technologies influence society, driving a new era for the greater Washington, D.C. area’s innovation economy. Some highlights include: ■
Designed for partnerships. Project-based learning will blur the lines between research and education and invite industry partners to be integral to the programs and experiences taking place at the Innovation Campus and create industry-ready graduates ready to make a difference in the tech sector. Purpose-driven research. Once fully built out, the Innovation Campus will support about half a dozen broad research areas of excellence. Potential focus areas include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, next-generation wireless, and quantum information science and technology. Built for scale. Construction of the first building – an 11-story, 300,000 square-foot architectural and environmental sustainability award-winning design structure – is on track to start in summer 2021 and open to students in 2024. Virginia Tech also plans to build two additional buildings, each about 150,000 square feet, as the campus grows. At its full build-out, the Innovation Campus will host approximately 750 master’s and 200 doctoral students and graduate 550 master’s and 50 doctoral candidates annually. New pathways for students. A new Virginia Tech partnership program allows undergraduate students at James Madison University, Christopher Newport University, the University of Mary Washington, Radford University, and Hollins University to apply early and earn graduate credits in master’s degree programs based at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. Virginia Tech is partnering with Alexandria City Public Schools to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math opportunities for students and create potential pathways to higher education.
Virginia Tech Innovation Campus Rendering, Alexandria
Through the generous support of Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program, over the next several years George Mason’s Arlington Campus will undergo a $250 million transformation that will serve as a critical catalyst in the further activation of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, a dynamic and growing innovation district with a thriving high-tech ecosystem. What will be called Mason’s Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA) will engage researchers, innovators, and scholars in cutting-edge work to shape the future of our digital society, promoting equality, wellbeing, security, and prosperity. Over 300 George Mason students, faculty members, and research staff will explore topics along several themes: Technologies: Inventing new algorithms, digital techniques, and technologies; Systems: Developing and deploying computing systems to advance fields as diverse as finance, education, built infrastructure, science, economics, agriculture, health, transportation, entertainment, national security, and social justice; and Digital Society: Engaging in critical reflection that examines the implications of digital innovation to ensure that innovators are sensitive to designing and innovating responsibly, and that key stakeholders – including users, innovators, policy-makers, and the public at large – are informed about technology’s social, ethical, political, and economic impacts.
George Mason University Institute for Digital InnovAtion, Arlington Concept rendering by Mason Innovation Partners / EYP
The Mason IDIA will not only support the university’s tech-based research and related educational programs, but will provide collaboration and convening spaces to support public programming for the Arlington community. The building will include approximately 500,000 square feet of new space adjacent to the university’s existing presence in Virginia Square.
A Globally Diverse and Inclusive State Virginia is home to one of the most diverse tech workforces in the country, ranking among the top 10 states for the percentage of tech workers who are Asian American (21%) and Black (12%). Virginia’s tech workforce also stands out for its international character, with 25% of tech workers foreign-born, representing the 10th most international tech workforce in the country.
Appian, Fairfax County
Old Town Alexandria Waterfront
Virginia Pride’s PrideFest, Richmond
In 2020, Virginia became the first state in the South to extend workplace antidiscrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community. The Virginia Values Act (VVA) expands the Virginia Human Rights Act by including the LGBTQ+ community and by increasing the number of employers subject to the law. Before this expansion, the Virginia Human Rights Act was only applicable to small employers, but these new changes extended the law’s protections for non-age-related discrimination to any employer with more than five employees. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Henrico County 12
A Large and Diverse Tech Ecosystem Illustrative Examples of Tech Headquarters and Centers in Virginia Technology businesses relocating or expanding into Virginia join world-class tech leaders like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, as well as companies in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, FinTech, Manufacturing Tech, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). According to CyberSeek, Virginia is also home to the second largest cybersecurity sector in the country.
Greater Richmond 220
Lynchburg Region 64 B eck ley
New River Valley
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Southwest Virginia Knoxv ille
G ree nsboro
Maryland B altimore
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Wash ing ton, D . C.
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I-95 I-85 Intersection Hampton Roads
World-Class Talent at a Competitive Cost
Tech companies can hire high-quality tech talent in Virginia at salaries that compare favorably with competing markets. Salaries in Northern Virginia, one of the world’s leading tech hubs, average less than most major tech metros, and salaries for tech talent in other parts of the state are competitive with smaller markets in other states, enabling tech firms to choose the best market, talent mix, and budget for their particular needs. MicroStrategy, Fairfax County
1901 Group is committed to investing in growing talent to address the deficit of cloud engineering and cyber talent in the public sector. Our business model is based on engaging rural communities to create the next wave of IT talent focused on automation, streamlining, and continual improvement in large-scale IT environments. SONU SINGH CEO, 1901 Group Grupo Phoenix, Pulaski County
We have chosen Fairfax County, considered the East Coast center of technology innovation, for its proximity to the nation’s capital, a vibrant business community, access to several international airports and Metro’s Silver Line, and an incredibly diverse and highly educated workforce. MICHAEL J. SAYLOR CEO and Founder, MicroStrategy
1901 Group, Montgomery County
Rural and Small Metro Tech Hubs In addition to nationally ranked tech hubs, Virginia is home to many rural and small metro locations ideal for companies looking to attract and retain tech talent in lower cost markets. These target communities offer a growing, robust tech talent pipeline from the Commonwealth’s premier colleges and universities leading the charge on tech innovation, in addition to lower average tech wages, low turnover, and a high quality of life. Virginia’s rural and small metro tech hubs boast favorable operating costs for onshore delivery centers, software firms, and others.
Rural and Small Metro locations near universities with computer science programs Illustrative Examples
WillowTree Expands Roots in Virginia WillowTree, Albemarle County
Rosetta Stone, Harrisonburg
WillowTree, a mobile applications developer with clients such as FOX Sports, PepsiCo, Regal Cinemas, and Hilton, invested $20.6 million in 2018 to relocate and expand its headquarters in Albemarle County. Founded in Charlottesville in 2007, the company grew from three employees to more than 400 in under 10 years, supported by the Commonwealth’s higher education system and strong tech workforce. With collaboration and coworking at the center of its corporate philosophy, WillowTree needed a larger home base to consolidate its workforce of over 550 employees. The new 85,000-square-foot headquarters is located within Woolen Mills, an 1870s-era historic industrial site on the Rivanna River that has been modernized into a state-ofthe-art advanced technology campus.
Torc Robotics, Blacksburg
WillowTree, which also has offices in North Carolina and Ohio, is able to recruit top talent to its Central Virginia location in part due to the lower cost of living and quality-of-life amenities. The company’s footprint in Albemarle County is an intentional and strategic choice to locate in smaller and rural areas rather than urban tech centers like Silicon Valley that come with higher operating and living costs. WillowTree is also able to easily recruit top talent for engineering, design, administration, and project management roles, as nearby University of Virginia, Germanna Community College, and Piedmont Community College educate over 36,000 students each year and supply IT companies in the region with a pipeline of tech talent. 18
CGI, Russell County
An Exceptional Quality of Life
Virginia offers a diverse range of lifestyle options, a mild, four-season climate, and a competitive cost of living. Vibrant urban centers and picturesque small towns are alive with arts and culture and stunning landscapes. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of a wide variety of beautiful outdoor settings, from mountains and hiking trails to beaches and rivers.
Canal Walk, Downtown Richmond
Richmond The Omni Homestead PrideFest Resort, Bath County
Virginia Creeper Trail, Washington County
Dragon’s Tooth Trail, Roanoke County
Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke
Sandbridge, Virginia Beach
Largest Data Center Market in the World Building on a rich history of federal investments in fiber optics as well as pioneering tax advantages, Virginia hosts the largest data center market in the world and is home to more than 20% (100) of all known hyperscale data centers worldwide. 77
Shenandoah Valley 79
Central Virginia 64
Greater Richmond 64 B eckley
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Lynchburg Region G ree nsboro
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Northern Virginia Data Center Alley
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Data centers operating in Virginia benefit from densely packed fiber backbones and a massive network of data centers that currently move an estimated 70% of the world’s internet traffic daily, as well as an advantageous cost environment centered on a competitive tax rate, affordable and abundant electricity (with rapidly expanding renewable power options), and competitive construction costs. Virginia offers an exemption from retail sales and use tax for qualifying computer equipment purchased by data centers that meet statutory investment and employment requirements. Virginia was the first state to allow the tenants of colocation data centers to receive the benefit of the sales tax exemption. In addition, local business property tax rates on computer and related equipment for data centers have been reduced by a number of localities.
Today, virtually every data center is making interconnection with subsea cables a priority to support data-driven global business... This confluence of domestic and international connectivity has established the region as an international business destination. SEAN BAILLIE Chief of Staff and Chief Marketing Officer, QTS
Virginia is Home to the First Subsea Cable Connections in the Mid-Atlantic 24
Strategic Location that Strategic Location that Enables Global Conne Enables Global Connectivity Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic location offers tech firms proximity to economic centers up and down the East Coast, including critical customer markets like the federal government, Northeast Corridor, and Southeast metro areas.
commercial airports serving Virginia with direct flights to 100+ domestic and 50+ international destinations
among Southeastern states for public transit usage via rail and bus systems
of fiber, ensuring ubiquitous access to broadband for tech firms
of the U.S. population located in the Eastern Time Zone
committed for transportation projects over the next six years
Facebook, Henrico County
Facebook Friends Virginia In 2017, social media giant Facebook announced plans to establish a $750 million data center in White Oak Technology Park in Henrico County, and committed $250 million in solar energy facilities to offset power usage. The project, intended to be completed in phases, had barely broken ground when an expansion and additional $750 million investment was announced in 2018. Facebook’s cumulative investment of $1.75 billion and 2.4 million square feet of data center space in Henrico will support over 200 jobs once all phases are operational.
Virginia boasts many advantages that contribute to its standing as the largest data center hub in the country, including competitive power costs, low risk for natural disasters, and dense fiber. Facebook, in partnership with Telxius and Microsoft, enhanced the Commonwealth’s already impressive connectivity with the addition of MAREA, the transatlantic submarine cable with the highest capacity to date. Operating at 160 terabytes per second, the cable connects Bilbao, Spain, with Virginia, diversifying connectivity through the Atlantic.
Iron Mountain, Prince William County
The Motley Fool, Alexandria
An Attractive, Stable, and Predictable Operating Environment Ranked America’s Top State for Business by CNBC, Virginia is frequently recognized for its favorable regulatory climate and consistently rated one of the best-run states in the country. The Commonwealth also offers low and stable business taxes, as well as favorable salaries and corporate lease rates, providing tech operations with stable, competitive, and predictable costs for the long-term.
Virginia has had a stable 6% corporate income tax rate, one of the lowest in the nation, since 1972.
Virginia’s metro areas offer a lower average lease cost for Class A office space than many popular headquarters locations in the United States.
Sound economic policy and prudent financial management has earned Virginia a AAA credit rating since 1938 — longer than any other state.
From highly urbanized areas to medium metros and rural areas, Virginia’s construction costs fall below the national average by 7% to 20%.
The James River is a popular destination for water activities, particularly near the fall line, which passes through downtown Richmond. The rapids there are billed as the only urban Class III-IV rapids in the United States.
Expertise • Collaboration • Innovation • Solutions The Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s (VEDP) team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals is committed to Virginia’s economic success, and connects industry-leading businesses to the resources they need to make relocation and expansion successful endeavors. From site selection, customized research, cost analysis, and coordination with public and private partners, to discretionary incentives and workforce solutions, VEDP’s services are tailored to companies’ unique requirements. To learn more about VEDP’s expertise and resources, visit VEDP.org.
© January 2022