Philosopher and novelist Aldous Huxley wrote that “facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Terry Maynard’s recent article titled “Amazon HQ2 in Reston? Not Good…” represents his opinion but also ignores some very important facts and misstates other particulars.
First and foremost, Amazon has not yet said anything about its final decision and, until they do so, no one really knows whether they will locate in northern Virginia or elsewhere. If you looked at twenty articles on the subject, you will find at least ten different conclusions, all of which are speculation on the part of the authors.
Mr. Maynard’s piece misleads the reader by not acknowledging that the location and growth of HQ2 will likely take place over about a twenty-year time frame. This will give all of the areas involved time to prepare the infrastructure, build schools, and provide the other public services that the existing and new residents will expect. Moreover, should northern Virginia be fortunate enough to win HQ2, the new residents of the region would be spread throughout the area. True, some will look at Reston while others may elect to live elsewhere and take Metro to work. Many would live in other nearby areas such as Centreville or Herndon or others. And Mr. Maynard neglected to note that, if the site in question is selected, many of the new residents will, of course, live in the partner jurisdiction in this proposal, Loudoun County.
What we have learned over the years is that businesses contribute a great deal to the real estate tax base, which helps to offset the costs of public services for residents. Amazon’s HQ2 campus will be significant in its size and will certainly contribute substantial real estate taxes to both counties, taxes that will support local education systems, recreational opportunities and other important public services.
To cite another oft-used quote, former United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.” One of Mr. Maynard’s non-facts is that the counties have made “generous secret tax concessions.” In fact, the two counties are relying on the company’s overall tax contributions to their tax bases.
Another of Mr. Maynard’s misstatements is that ExxonMobil left “wreckage” behind in Reston when they moved their Downstream Marketing Division from Merrifield to Houston. Not a fact! There was no impact on the Reston market because the jobs had been located in Merrifield. The corporation was very careful to work closely with the community when it made its decision and set sail for Texas. And, the Inova campus that is now in its place will generate high-paying important jobs for decades to come. These are some of the benefits of having good corporate citizens in our community. If Amazon does elect to bring its second headquarters to the Fairfax/Loudoun site, the benefits of having such a great corporate citizen join our community will be incredible. Now that’s a fact!
Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority