Case Studies Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services Expands Virginia Footprint

Growing the Cloud from Virginia

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud, is continually growing its business and tech workforce to address demand. In 2017, AWS began a site selection search to find a new corporate campus on the East Coast devoted to its cloud computing services.

The requirements: top talent and accessibility to major metro areas.

The Virginia Solution

Prime Talent and Location

With the demand to hire over 1,000 employees, it was critical for AWS to locate in a place with a sustainable pipeline of tech talent.

Enter Virginia.

The Commonwealth hosts the largest data center market in the world, and Northern Virginia is home to more than 35% (~150) of all known hyperscale data centers worldwide. Already at the forefront of emerging sectors like cloud computing, cybersecurity, and software development, Virginia is committed to technology and innovation. With the highest concentration of tech workers in the nation, a steady pipeline of IT talent flocks to Northern Virginia annually – many of which matriculate from the state’s nationally recognized colleges and universities. 

As a global powerhouse, AWS also required strategic access to its domestic and international facilities. Virginia’s mid-Atlantic location borders the nation’s capital and provides a gateway to domestic and global markets. Proximity to three major international airports places 60% of the U.S. population within a two-hour flight of Virginia, and 47% of the U.S. population lives within a one-day drive.

Located in the heart of the Northern Virginia region, Fairfax County offers access to policymakers and leaders who are helping to shape the face of tomorrow’s IT sector. With one of every four jobs directly related to the technology solutions sector, Fairfax County attracts a constant influx of young talent from around the world. Partners such as the Northern Virginia Technology Council, George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech all contribute to the IT services and professional services ecosystem. These advantages would provide an ideal environment for AWS to serve its booming customer base on the East Coast.

Virginia Selected for East Coast Corporate Campus

Amazon Web Services continues to expand its massive cloud cluster in Northern Virginia, where it operates more than 50 data centers. The region is the largest single concentration of corporate data center infrastructure on earth, housing the AWS US-East cloud region.

In June 2017, AWS announced plans to establish its new East Coast corporate campus in Fairfax County at One Dulles Tower, a 400,000-square-foot Class A office building about two miles east of Washington Dulles International Airport, creating up to 1,500 new jobs.

Amazon partners with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) through its Career Choice program to address the high demand for workers with cloud computing skills in the region and prepare the workforce of tomorrow. The program empowers Amazon employees to learn new skills for career success at Amazon or elsewhere and provides a variety of education and upskilling opportunities including full college tuition, industry certifications, and foundational skills such as English language proficiency. Amazon’s Veteran Technical Apprenticeship program – the first of its kind on the East Coast – launched at NOVA in 2017 to train local veterans for roles as data center technicians, system engineers, and cloud computing consultants.

The Largest Capital Investment In Virginia History 

Between 2011 and 2021, AWS invested more than $51.9 billion in Virginia and is among the largest private-sector employers in the Commonwealth, with over 8,700 full-time, well-paying jobs in corporate offices and data centers across Virginia. These roles include data center technicians, engineers, solutions architects, sales representatives, account managers, software development engineers, and cloud experts. 

In January 2023, AWS announced plans to again expand its footprint in Virginia, investing $35 billion by 2040 to establish multiple data center campuses across the Commonwealth. 

VEDP worked with AWS for five years prior to the announcement to ensure Virginia could meet the company’s requirements for the major data center expansion. In the various iterations of the project, the needs shifted from 50-acre sites to multiple 1,000-acre campuses with 15-year development plans. The sites required access to high power voltage lines and the ability to provide other utilities to support the company's long-term development plans. Virginia delivered on every front.

VEDP’s flexibility and willingness to adapt to the company’s shifting priorities and requirements was key to winning this project, as well as Virginia’s inventory of large tracts of land that could deliver significant utility requirements. AWS also has more than a decade of first-hand knowledge of the Commonwealth’s industry strengths—including its world-class tech workforce.

The company’s planned investment will create at least 1,000 total new jobs across Virginia and a tremendous ripple effect for the Commonwealth’s economy for decades to come. The new campuses will also combine expandable capacity to position AWS for long-term growth in the Commonwealth.

Amazon Web Services’ legacy in Virginia is a testament to the success tech companies can find in the Commonwealth. Virginia continues to dominate the data center industry thanks to its infrastructure, competitive business costs, and workforce, and AWS is helping to lead the charge.

Virginia is a world leader in innovation and cloud computing, thanks to its investment in a robust, highly skilled workforce and emphasis on long-term public and private partnerships.

Roger Wehner
Director of Economic Development, AWS