One of the lead officials behind Amazon’s region-altering move to Northern Virginia is leaving Arlington to head economic development efforts in neighboring Fairfax County, officials announced Monday.
Victor Hoskins, who directed Arlington County’s economic development authority for nearly five years, will succeed Gerald L. Gordon as head of Fairfax’s economic development authority, starting Aug. 5, Fairfax officials said. Gordon stepped down from his job in Fairfax last year after overseeing new development for Virginia’s chief economic engine for 35 years.
Hoskins, 61, said he plans to focus on creating more destination-type places near Metro stations in Fairfax — popular spots to live, shop and eat, akin to the Wharf or Union Market in the District.
“You create these places, but you have to do them with purpose,” he said in an interview. “You have to think about how they’re designed, how people interact with them, how they differentiate themselves from other markets.”
Hoskins was a driving force in persuading Amazon to build its second headquarters in Crystal City — a deal that is expected to create at least 25,000 jobs in the region and that includes more than $23 million in incentives provided to the retail giant by Arlington.
He previously headed economic development efforts in Prince George’s County, served as deputy mayor for planning and development under then-D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), led Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and was deputy commissioner of Baltimore’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
“Victor has been an economic-development dynamo in our region for years,” Catherine Lange, chair of Fairfax’s economic development authority board, said in a statement. “We are thrilled he is bringing his experience and expertise to Fairfax County.”
The agency declined to disclose Hoskins’s salary.
Amazon’s arrival has sparked worries about a resulting increase in area housing prices, which the company has tried to offset by donating $3 million toward the creation of affordable housing in Arlington and by planning to be engaged in controlling the effects of its expansion in the Washington area. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Hoskins’s role in luring Amazon to the region marked another milestone in a 23-year economic development career that, in Arlington, includes presiding over the arrival of Nestle USA and the Gerber baby food company to Rosslyn last year and the German supermarket Lidl in 2015.
He also helped keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from moving its headquarters out of Pentagon City. The county offered $11.5 million in financial incentives to the agency’s landlord, Clarion Partners, earlier this year.
In the District, Hoskins helped begin the ongoing transformation of the Wharf area on the city’s southwestern waterfront, the mixed-use CityCenterDC development near downtown and the arrival of new restaurants and other businesses at Union Market.
“I can’t begrudge him leaving,” Christian Dorsey, chair of the Arlington County Board, said about Hoskins’s decision to leave for Fairfax. “The nature of this business is they go where the challenge is greater and the need is greater.”
Fairfax is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies and Tysons, which county officials are working to transform into an urban landscape of new restaurants, office towers and high-rise residential buildings.
But the county of 1.1 million residents has had trouble shaking its bedroom community image, losing out to Arlington, Alexandria and the District in luring millennials — and their money.
In hopes of leveraging Amazon’s arrival to the region, Fairfax’s economic development authority recently launched a $1 million program to attract those younger workers through digital advertising, social media and other forms of outreach — with a focus on filling more of the region’s estimated 50,000 vacant technology jobs.
Hoskins said that he will work with companies to retain high-skilled young workers, attract new talent and retrain people in other fields who are interested in switching careers. The agency will also work with schools and universities to funnel more local students into those high-paying jobs, he said.
“If we do it right, the young kids that are going through their education right now, or the people who are being retrained, will see how exciting it is to be in this environment,” Hoskins said, calling his new job in Fairfax “a different kind of challenge.”
“I feel like the challenge in Arlington has been met,” he said.
Sharon Bulova (D), chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said Hoskins’s experience in other jurisdictions should give him broader insight into ways Fairfax can attract new residents and workers and diversify its economy.
Hoskins “is someone who believes in regionalism,” Bulova said. “He is going to really take Fairfax County and our economic development authority into new levels.”
Patricia Sullivan contributed to this report.