- Virginia Tech shifted the location for its $1 billion Innovation Campus to be a half-mile closer to Amazon's proposed new headquarters in northern Virginia, the university announced Monday.
- Officials told The Washington Post that they moved the location to provide the forthcoming 1-million-square-foot campus with more room to expand.
- The move brings the campus a step closer to its fall 2020 opening, when graduate students will be taught in a vacant shopping center near where the academic buildings will eventually stand.
The Innovation Campus was a key piece of northern Virginia's winning bid to become the new home for Amazon's second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Building a strong tech pipeline will be critical for the e-commerce giant, which expects to add about 400 jobs to the area in 2019 and 25,000 more in the next decade.
Amazon's 14-month competition for its second headquarters came at just the right time, Virginia Tech officials told Education Dive last year.
That's because Virginia Tech had already set its sights on building an "innovation district" in northern Virginia. The race to lure the online retailer, officials said, accelerated plans already underway to expand the university's footprint.
The university said the finished campus will enroll around 750 master's candidates and "hundreds" of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows that can help fill the workforce needs of the new Amazon location, which will be only two Metro stops away. The campus will feature classrooms, incubator space and ground-floor retail.
George Mason will triple its enrollment in computing and related fields to about 15,000 students, create a new computing school, and launch a think tank for more than 1,200 researchers, technology experts and business leaders.
The state of Virginia is backing Virginia Tech and George Mason's expansion plans by splitting as much as $375 million in performance-based funding to the two institutions over the next two decades, Inside Higher Ed reported.
Additionally, Northern Virginia Community College partnered with Amazon Web Services to launch a cloud computing program last fall.
Other institutions — including Carnegie Mellon, Brown and Iowa State universities — have funneled millions into innovation center projects. Their aim is to serve as the launching pad for new businesses and forge partnerships with local companies.