For those of us doing business in Northern Virginia, Amazon’s decision to choose Crystal City for part of its new headquarters makes a lot of sense. Amazon was looking for a location that could attract world-class talent, and the greater Washington, DC area possesses the most educated workforce in the country.
But while the decision might seem inevitable in hindsight, Amazon’s team no doubt spent countless hours analyzing every variable that would affect the desirability of its new location. So let’s dig a little deeper and look at just how Northern Virginia built itself into an attractive brand for one of the world’s leading companies and its employees.
Above: a Google Trends report on search interest for “Crystal City”. Do we think it got a brand lift?
1. Brands are Built on Strengths
Crystal City’s original developer, Robert Smith, was advised by his father to abandon the project due to the land’s lack of perceived value. But Smith looked past the dilapidated junkyards and warehouses that littered the area and saw that his property was close to the newly constructed Pentagon, National Airport, and of course the federal government.
Smith knew he had the biggest strength in real estate, location, but little else. So focused on promoting his strength.
He went out and sold the government on the convenience (and affordability) of his land, and convinced federal agencies to locate offices outside of Washington, DC for the first time. He brought in the public by building apartment buildings a stone’s throw from the highway and in close proximity to their work (the first one to open featured a large crystal chandelier, giving rise to the name Crystal City).
Once these deals were in place, Crystal City’s true strength began to shine.
2. Brands Communicate Vision
In Arlington’s statement announcing Amazon’s decision, County Board Chair Katie Cristol made a key point:
“Arlington’s real strength is the decades of planning that have produced one of the most vibrant, civically engaged communities in the world.”
The Crystal City Business Improvement District has worked tirelessly to make its neighborhood an exciting place to live and work. But that BID wouldn’t exist if Arlington hadn’t focused on building itself into a world-class community for generations through its Comprehensive Plan.
What do you see in the center of that plan? A clearly defined vision of a community that embraces mass transit, public spaces, and sustainable development, all features that Amazon mentioned as desirable selling points in its announcement.
3. Brands Engage with Their Communities
Brands ultimately are conversations about values with a particular community. In the case of Amazon, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) brought Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties together, knowing that it would take a collaboration at all levels of government in order to match the scale of Amazon’s needs.
During the negotiation process, Arlington’s County Manager and the VEDP presented proposals outlining various incentives to encourage Amazon to choose Northern Virginia. If you read through these documents, you’ll find something interesting: while Arlington certainly offered a number of incentives, many of them are contingent on Amazon bringing in the number of employees and business travelers promised. You’ll also see a significant amount of incentives related to infrastructure development and energy efficiency.
What do these incentives mean? Quite simply, that the keepers of the Northern Virginia brand were able to have a good-faith discussion with a potential member of their community while also ensuring that the vision for the county’s plan remained strong. These kinds of conversations are how a strong brand stays that way.
A project of this size and scale is generational in scope, and it will be decades before we can analyze its impact. Amazon’s decision is really the culmination of Northern Virginia’s decades of work building its national profile, and those who have worked to grow its brand should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.
About the Author
Tim Young is the president of Young Marketing Consulting, a strategic marketing consultancy and full-service marketing agency that delivers sustainable solutions to marketing challenges. Learn more at youngmarketingconsulting.com
Small and midsized exporters want to know on which new export markets they should focus. Until now the best approach available was to look at indictors such as GDP, tariff and non-tariff barriers, political risk and so forth. For exporters who like data and aren’t intimidated by online data tools offered by the federal government, there are data available on what countries historically purchase from the U.S.
Thanks to advances in big data analytics and government’s so far limited use of them, exporters now have a more sophisticated tool to hone in on best markets for specific products. Named Market Diversification, this tool supports a favorite goal of past presidential administrations to get smaller U.S. companies to increase the number of countries they sell to. Historically, the majority of small business exporters sell to only one market, typically Canada, which is geographically close and relatively easy to deliver products to the buyer. So, imagine the impact on employment and bottom lines if U.S. companies can, say, double markets served from one to two!
It is a great reason to celebrate moves by the government that help exporters.
What’s different about Market Diversification is that it scores potential markets based on a number of factors. Instead of dealing in generalities, there is now some quantitative rigor behind selecting markets to enter. And even if the tool does nothing more than validate hunches or less rigorous forms of analyses, the knowledge that a lot of data have been crunched on your behalf should be reassuring.
The first thing you should do is go to the Department of Commerce trade promotion website and the new section devoted to the tool. https://beta.trade.gov/marketdiversification . Here you’ll enter your Harmonized Code Number, a string of digits that represent in general terms the product you are selling. The Code is used worldwide, in part to help customs officials to know what’s in the shipping box, track what comes in and to apply the appropriate tariff to the value stated on the shipping documents. Here’s an online tool for finding your HS codes if you don’t know them or if you do but want to double-check. https://hts.usitc.gov
In addition to adding your HS Code Number, Market Diversification will ask what other countries you export to. This enables the algorithm to determine whether there are similar markets you should be considering. You can filter results by region of the world, specific country, or you can choose to see all of the results worldwide. Eleven factors are involved in the analysis and include:
You will end up with a numerical score. The higher the number, the more suitable your product is for that specific market. One interesting feature is the purported ability of the tool to spot markets that are underperforming as importers of this product compared to other similar country markets. By crunching these numbers, the tool calculates the underperforming in percentage terms. If the number is 1o percent, one way to view it is to conclude that based on the information available, this market could be importing more. While it doesn’t answer the why or how questions, it does suggest a potential market for you and suggests questions to ask during additional research.
Indeed, the government authorities encourage users of this tool to view it as but one means to get a fuller picture of where you might concentrate your resources. We’re not quite yet where we can ask Siri to tell where the best markets are for our products. But we’re getting closer.
Enjoy this blog and want more insight on global trade? Check out the WebPort Global blog at https://www.webportglobal.com/Blog-Community/International-Trade-and-Global-Business
If you want more information on how WPG can help your business grow & go global contact Stephanie Misar at email@example.com for more information.
Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Applauds Amazon’s Decision to Locate Second Headquarters in Northern Virginia
President and CEO, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce
Last week, Amazon announced that it will locate a portion of its second headquarters – “HQ2” – in Northern Virginia, bringing tens of thousands of additional jobs to the region over the next decade. 238 North American cities and regions responded to Amazon’s HQ2 RFP, and our region, along with New York, was selected. This is something we should be extremely proud of as a region.
In January 2018, Amazon selected twenty finalist regions, including Northern Virginia. Among its requirements, Amazon noted its desire to locate HQ2 in a major metropolitan area with access to a talented workforce, a robust transportation network with an international airport, and a stable, business-friendly environment.
HQ2 represents the culmination of Northern Virginia’s unprecedented transformation over the course of a generation. That Amazon selected Northern Virginia over many other strong options reemphasizes what makes our region a premier business destination – world-class, highly-educated, diverse talent, robust infrastructure, and a positive business climate at the local, state, and regional level. We are excited to welcome Amazon’s extraordinary investment of resources, innovation, and talent to our region – these contributions will certainly serve as the catalyst for Northern Virginia’s next great chapter.
As we welcome Amazon’s new investment in our community, we, the business community must continue to advocate to address our regional challenges and opportunities. The ability for our region to grow or attract the next Amazon is dependent on our continued ability to recruit and retain talent, move people efficiently, build our entrepreneurial ecosystem, and enhance our quality of life. With your support and leadership, your Chamber will continue to be the place where the business leadership of the region will convene, engage with one another, and build the platform that will support our region’s long term prosperity.
As we already know, Northern Virginia’s business community is second to none. The Northern Virginia Chamber is proud to represent and serve those businesses that contribute to our thriving region. I am excited for what’s to come for our business community and for Northern Virginia.
Second Wave Learning
Old habits die hard.
If you’ve been a manager for more than 10 years, you may think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But some things don’t have to broken to be changed or improved, and Millennials are the change that is happening in the workplace.
Today’s younger Millennials aren’t looking for a manager — they’re looking for a coach, especially younger, Second-Wave Millennials. A manager manages performance, and a coach manages development. While a manager sets your goals, tracks your performance, gives you raises, promotes you, fires you (very functional things), what a coach does is motivate you. Coaches provide feedback. They fit you into a team. They improve your skills. They give you advice. It’s a one-on-one experience.
Even while coaching, the principles of good management still need to apply: clear expectations, a means of tracking progress, and rewards for achieving goals. But how a manager manages, especially for Millennials, should be more like a coach—developing his or her employee with close supervision and a watchful, caring eye.
Coaching is the new managing for Millennials.
Here’s why: Millennials grew up to believe they were special. I know… you are already rolling your eyes, but after 20-years of conditioning, they expect more individualized attention, and you can’t change that overnight. A distant authority figure doling out unexplained assignments and goals without explaining how to get to those goals is not the way to develop good employees today. On the other hand, someone who will work closely with them, mentoring and partnering, coaching them to better performance, will experience far greater levels of productivity.
One of the best ways to be a good coach is by providing them with goals that are clear, achievable and incremental. Millennials in the workplace are surprisingly goal-oriented—as much or more than their Boomer and Gen X counterparts. Of the three generations currently in the workforce, Millennials are decidedly the most focused “on the prize.”
In fact, a survey from LifeCourse Associates revealed 69 percent of Millennials say they like it when their supervisor provides them with hands-on guidance and direction to reach their goals. Just 40 percent of Boomers and Gen Xers said that.
In addition, be sure to provide frequent feedback on their progress. Since they were children, Millennials have been conditioned to get guidance and feedback constantly at school and in their extra-curriculars. As a coach, consider more frequent (daily, even) check-ins with your Millennial employees.
Coaching, not managing, may be what gets your organization to higher levels of productivity — led by some of your youngest team members. Managing may not be broken, but it’s time for an upgrade.
Warren Wright is author of Second-Wave Millennials: Tapping the Potential of America’s Youth. It is due for release in November. This blog is taken from an excerpt of the book.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet so often its one of the first things compromised in our day to day life. How many times have we stayed up to the wee hours of the night finishing those emails instead of just closing the computer and getting 8 hours of sleep? Or forgoing exercise or yoga because we just ‘don’t have the time’. Mental health refers to the health of our brain, which also happens to be one of the most important and complex organs of our body.
What if we called it Brain Health? Would we make more of an effort to rest our brain, feed it positive thoughts instead of negative thoughts and prioritize activities such as meditation, yoga – even therapy – to try and have the best brain health possible?
Local non-profit organization, the Josh Anderson Foundation, is working hard to change the culture around mental health for teenagers through its student-led club program, our minds matter. Our Minds Matter clubs utilize a peer-to-peer method in which trained youth develop and lead activities that encourage social connection, reduce mental health stigma, and build coping skills among their fellow students. The goal is to create an environment in which those who struggle seek help and find a way forward. Currently the Our Minds Matter program is in fourteen high schools in Northern Virginia and is seeking to expand in order to reach more teens with critical skills and knowledge around their mental, or brain health.
Why it is important to have programs like these in our schools that help students prioritize their mental health? Because our teens need this support now more than ever. Suicide has grown to become the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-19. What’s more is teenagers’ brains are not fully developed and therefore they are more likely to respond irrationally and impulsively to life’s challenges.
We can all agree that no young person’s life should be lost to suicide. You can help support the Josh Anderson Foundation’s mission at its upcoming fundraising event, the 5th Annual Joshua Ball, on Friday November 2nd. Virginia State Senator, Creigh Deeds will be sharing his remarkable story. Senator Deeds has been widely recognized for his work on mental health reform following his son's death by suicide in 2013 and most recently, Senator Deeds sponsored the new Virginia law that mandates mental health education in public schools.
To purchase tickets, sponsor the event or donate, please visit the following site:
Thank you for helping to prioritize Mental and Brain Health!
Help sensory-sensitive children enjoy trick-or-treat
Some children can enjoy Halloween whether they are dressed as a goblin or a princess, but Halloween may not come as easily for other children. Trick-or-treating can be an overwhelming experience for children with a sensitive sensory system as they experience new sights, sounds, and behaviors. These tips from Patient First can help all children enjoy their trick-or-treat hauls.
(Note: Editors and reporters may use the attached graphics.)
About Patient First
All Patient First Medical Centers are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year, including holidays. Patient First provides non-appointment urgent care for routine injuries and illnesses, as well as primary care for patients who do not have a regular physician. Each Patient First center has on-site digital x-ray, on-site laboratory, and on-site prescription drugs. Patient First currently operates medical centers in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Media Contact: Brooke Waller
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