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Report: Northern Virginia may be winner of Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes; Amazon exec slams leak


Officials in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, should’t be celebrating just yet.

But the high-stakes battle surrounding which of 20 metropolitan areas Amazon will choose for its second headquarters is hitting another plot twist, with a high ranking Amazon executive reacting on Twitter to a Washington Post report over the weekendthat Amazon was in “advanced discussions” about opening its headquarters in Northern Virginia, just outside the nation’s capital.

The Post cited  unnamed sources “close to the process. Amazon hasn’t responded to USA TODAY request for comment. The company’s main headquarters are in Seattle.

According to the Post, “the discussions were more detailed than those the company has had regarding other locations in Northern Virginia and some other cities nationally, adding to speculation that the site in Arlington County is a front-runner to land the online retail giant’s second North American headquarters and its 50,000 jobs.” The Post added that a top real estate developer in the area, JBG Smith, has pulled some of its buildings off the leasing market, and that local officials have discussed how to make a public announcement on Amazon’s selection, sometime later this month. 

More: Where will Amazon put its second headquarters? What you need to know

More: An Amazon HQ2 timeline

 It is entirely possible, though, that Amazon is having similar discussions with other finalists.

What’s more, shortly after the Post report was published, Amazon director of economic development public policy, Mike Grella tweeted: “Memo to the genius leaking info about Crystal City, VA as #HQ2 selection.  You’re not doing Crystal City, VA any favors.  And stop treating the NDA you signed like a used napkin.” 

Grella also weighed in on another Post article by tweet, one in which the publication speculated on the HQ2 search based on where Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ corporate jet flies:  “as an Amazon spokesman said, where Jeff flies to and doesn’t fly to says nothing about #HQ2 cities.  The search team has earned his trust and the highest use of his time isn’t looking at vacant buildings and land- he has a company to run -#Amazon.”

Of course, Grella didn’t actually state that the Post report on Crystal City report was untrue, and USA TODAY has also considered the D.C. area, and Northern Va., in particular, as one of the most likely of the front runners to emerge the victor. Northern Virginia is also a favorite on online betting sites.

The area is business-friendly, and close not only to Washington, D.C., but Dulles International Airport, a major hub. There’s also a large concentration of internet connectivity in the area. It probably doesn’t hurt either that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post. 

The winning area will almost certainly reap huge economic benefits. Amazon plans to invest more than $5 billion, and the 50,000 new company jobs are expected to yield an average pay of more than $100,000. Meanwhile, as many as 250,000 indirect jobs will also be created, according to the calculations of Enrico Moretti, an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley. 

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

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