Amazon posted the first job listings for its new Arlington County headquarters Monday and said it is moving two vice presidents from Seattle there to oversee workforce development and international growth of its virtual assistant Alexa.
The online retail giant also announced it is leasing temporary space in Crystal City so it can start operations in June, several months ahead of its originally planned October start date.
The company said it was able to accelerate the timetable because state and county officials were quick in approving multimillion-dollar incentives packages.
That’s in contrast to the reception Amazon received in New York, where opposition led it to cancel plans to build a similar facility there.
The initial round of listings on the Amazon jobs website is small — five postings, each for multiple hires — but it is a first step in what the company has pledged will be 25,000 new jobs over 10 to 12 years. The jobs will pay average annual salaries of $150,000, and about 400 of those positions are to be created by the end of this year.
(Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The newly listed positions are in human resources, finance, corporate procurement and facilities. Those hired will handle recruiting, along with constructing and furnishing buildings to be leased or built on the Amazon campus.
“While the number is small, these employees will help build the foundation of our workforce and workplace,” Ardine Williams, vice president of workforce development, said in a blog post.
The announcement drew mixed reactions, similar to those that Amazon’s arrival has provoked from the start.
Arlington Board Chair Christian Dorsey (D), a strong supporter of Amazon, said it was “exciting to see [the project] come to fruition.”
Moving the vice presidents is “a really strong signal” of Amazon’s commitment, Dorsey said, adding, “we’re hoping they will recruit from in and around the area.”
Amazon has said it will seek to fill as many jobs as possible with local hires.
But state Del. Lee J. Carter (D-Manassas), one of a minority of House members who voted against a state incentives package for the company, expressed doubt about Amazon’s commitment to hiring locally.
“Watch out for U-Hauls because the gentrifiers are coming,” Carter said. “We don’t have currently unemployed, qualified people in sufficient numbers to fill those positions with local hires. . . . Housing prices will rise, and families will be priced out of their homes.”
Williams and Rob Pulciani, vice president for Alexa, are the two executives moving to the Arlington office — a transfer that offers the first information about what kinds of operations will be based there.
The Seattle-based company portrayed the moves as confirmation that the Northern Virginia facility will be a true second headquarters, with high-level executives building teams there, and not merely a satellite office.
The company said it is leasing 45,500 square feet of temporary space from JBG Smith at 2345 Crystal Drive, so new employees can begin work in June. Earlier this month, JBG Smith said it had finalized three leases and two sales agreements with Amazon for other buildings nearby.
“The strong support from state and local government has allowed us to make significant progress towards establishing our presence here,” Williams said. “We are ahead of schedule and on pace to create 400 new jobs this year and a total of 25,000 over the next decade plus.”
Amazon must meet those targets to qualify for state grants totaling up to $550 million for the first 25,000 jobs, and up to $750 million if a total of 37,850 are eventually created.
The agreement with the state specifies how many jobs are to be created each year, with the average wage rising 1.5 percent each year from a base of $150,000. The state gives Amazon the grant money 4½ years after the jobs are created.
The Virginia General Assembly was so eager to get the Amazon jobs — and associated tax revenue and prestige — that it approved the incentives package after virtually no debate in January.
The Arlington County Board was only slightly slower to okay a much smaller package, for $23 million in incentives. It did so unanimously last month at a raucous meeting repeatedly disrupted by protesters.
Of the two executives moving from Seattle, Williams has already arrived. She plans to develop partnerships with local governments and universities, colleges and community colleges to ensure that graduates have the kinds of skills that Amazon will need in coming years.
Pulciani will oversee a technical team focused on Alexa, the virtual assistant used in Amazon smart speaker devices such as Echo.