The Wilson Beacon

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Luke Widenhouse

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Conventional wisdom holds that Crystal City, and subsequently the DC metropolitan area, will experience high levels of economic development as a result of HQ2, in the same way Seattle did when Amazon first established its headquarters there. Conventional wisdom is flawed.

A study done by the Urban Institute reveals that most economic development and job creation is spurred by smaller, local firms that eventually grow, rather than from already existing firms that move locations, such as Amazon. Economic development isn’t spurred forward by a single firm. It depends on widespread access to new innovations and technologies which allow individuals to better coordinate their actions.

Seattle is home to not just Amazon, but also Starbucks, Microsoft, and Costco, as well as numerous air companies dispersed across Washington state. As these businesses grow, their profits increase and eventually a sprawling urban area is created.

This is not the case with HQ2. All Amazon can really do is create uneven competition against small businesses that would be able to stimulate economic development.

And on a final, and perhaps worse note, Amazon’s HQ2 will have a negative effect on the housing market. In the 2017 U.S. Census, the number of housing units in Arlington was 114,026. The same census reported that from 2012-16, the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $623,300, and the median household income was $108,706. At the same time, the median value of owner-occupied housing units in DC in 2017 was $506,100, while the median household income was $72,935.

The DMV has already had a problem with affordable housing for years. HQ2 and the 25,000 people that will be coming with it will only raise prices that have been steadily climbing for the past few years, making this place that we and millions of others call home less accessible. Ultimately, HQ2 won’t bring the expected economic growth to Crystal City and will only increase the already rising housing prices in the DMV.

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