Community leaders, members of Virginia’s federal congressional delegation, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin gathered this week to lay out multiple reasons why the commonwealth would be well suited for the new FBI headquarters location.
A host of Virginia leaders recently joined together in Springfield to highlight the area’s opportunities as a potential location for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) new headquarters.
Currently housed in the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the FBI announced plans to move many of its operations out of the capital and into the suburbs. Three locations are in the running for the FBI’s new facility, and the other two are both in Maryland.
Community leaders, members of Virginia’s federal congressional delegation, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin gathered on Wednesday to lay out multiple reasons why the commonwealth would be well suited for the new headquarters location.
The Case for Springfield
“The case for Springfield is clear,” said Jeff McKay, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman.
From a vast framework of transportation options in the area and educational opportunities to the proximity of the FBI Academy in Quantico, McKay made his case for the Virginia location. He also noted the diversity in the region, proclaiming Fairfax County as the “proudest, most inclusive international community anywhere in the country.”
“We as a jurisdiction absolutely know how to accommodate federal agencies. We’re proud of that, but we are proud here in Fairfax County to have every single infrastructure asset and human asset necessary to make this enormously successful for the FBI and their employees,” McKay said. “That’s what this is all about today—what is in the interest of the FBI and their employees—and it is in their interest to be headquartered in Springfield.”
Youngkin, who worked in the business field prior to his governorship, also highlighted the opportunities the Virginia location would present. He alleged that the commonwealth meets every criteria considered in the FBI’s headquarter decision.
The five criteria include:
- FBI mission requirements
- Transportation access
- Site development flexibility
- Promoting sustainable siting and advancing equity
“Over the course of the past few years, extraordinary organizations have made the same decision,” Youngkin said. “Amazon, Boeing, Raytheon Technologies; they have all undertaken this exact same selection process, and they have made the decision to move their headquarters to Virginia.”
The governor also pointed out that Springfield is half the distance to Quantico compared to Greenbelt, Maryland, and over 40% closer compared to Landover, Maryland. Also, the government already owns the Springfield site, which Youngkin said would make shovels go in the ground faster while also saving taxpayer money.
A Well-rounded Workforce
Both US senators from Virginia highlighted the importance of a well-rounded workforce in the FBI, and also expressed how well-situated Springfield already is to meet that need.
“We know [that] in prior times, you [could] generally spot an FBI guy right away because it would generally be a white guy in a white shirt. But as we’ve seen, as the changing nature of challenges emerge, we need to make sure that we have a diverse workforce,” said Sen. Mark Warner. “We need to make sure that workforce is diverse, racially. We need to make sure that diverse workforce is made up of different faith traditions. We need to make sure that workforce brings a professionalism that can meld all of those skills together.”
Sen. Tim Kaine noted that while the current workforce is important, so is attracting future talent. He highlighted multiple areas where Fairfax shines. Kaine mentioned the area’s schools, several of which rank among the best in the nation according to the U.S. News and World Report. The senator also touted the area’s transportation network, which boasts nearby resources like the metro, buses, airports, and interstates.
Other Springfield assets the senator highlighted included the area’s business climate, national security network, commitment to affordable housing, and site readiness.
Kaine also spoke about the diversity of the area, noting that many students in the Fairfax County school system were learning English as a second language. McKay called Greater Springfield a “majority minority community,” emphasizing that more than 180 languages are represented by the elementary school students attending Fairfax County Public Schools.
“Fairfax County, as has been said, is one of the most vibrant and diverse communities, not just in Virginia, but in the country. And there’s no better place for the headquarters,” Kaine said. “Our Northern Virginia hub region provides a hub for talent and innovation that would ensure the FBI continues to have a strong and qualified workforce for many years to come.”
Susana Marino, president and CEO of the NOVA Hispanic American Chamber, also expressed the importance of a well-rounded workforce and the opportunities Springfield could provide for that equitable setting.
“Our majority minority community has a proven history of making our diverse communities prosper, and transformative economic opportunities,” Marino said. “And therefore, bringing here the new FBI headquarters will be an economic jolt in line with our local and regional efforts supporting all populations.”
Location, Location, Location
Located less than 15 miles away from the center of Springfield, operations currently housed in the J. Edgar Hoover Building wouldn’t have to move very far. Representatives Gerry Connolly, Abigail Spanberger, and Don Beyer expressed the importance of a proper location.
Connolly emphasized that the FBI relocating to Springfield would keep communications in close proximity with other operations.
“The anti-terrorism center is in Virginia. The FBI training academy is in Virginia. The FBI archives and records facility is in Virginia. And last time I checked, the CIA is in Langley, Virginia, and the Pentagon is in Arlington, Virginia,” Connolly said. “That’s not just a nice thing to have. That’s a nexus that serves the purpose of the FBI’s mission, and it provides the critical mass they need.”
Spanberger – who was formerly employed by the CIA and worked cases in conjunction with the FBI prior to pursuing politics – stressed the importance of selecting a central location. The congresswoman also represents Quantico, which houses the academy that all special agents attend prior to beginning their FBI career.
“Recognizing the proximity between headquarters and Quantico is a clear, clear reason for Virginia to be chosen for FBI headquarters,” Spanberger said. “It’s important to the people who serve in the FBI. And it certainly, regionally, just makes sense.”
Choosing Virginia would also expand opportunities for commonwealth residents, Beyer pointed out.
“Every city and county in Virginia, everywhere, our people are good. They’re noble. They’re hardworking. But everywhere, our needs are great also. So an FBI headquarters here in Northern Virginia will be an FBI for all of Virginia, not just Fairfax and Prince William, but Page County and Caroline and Culpeper and Winchester and Spotsylvania,” Beyer said. “The next generation of Virginians all across this commonwealth will look to Springfield for their expectations of meaningful work, protecting the American people.”
A United Front
Del. Luke Torian, chair of Virginia’s Minority Business Commission, discussed the bipartisan support for the FBI’s relocation to Virginia.
“As a former chair of the appropriations committee and member of the Major Employment Investment Commission, we members of the General Assembly across both aisles, Republicans and Democrats, we are committed to doing the work for the commonwealth to ensure that we have the FBI here in Springfield,” Torian said.
Major investments and improvements are also under way in the region. Phyllis Randall, chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) (who also serves as the chair at-large on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors), noted some of the infrastructure changes that recently came to fruition, including adding nearly 90 miles of express lanes in the area. There could be more to come, too, she hinted.
“[W]orkers who want to come to work for the FBI will have multimodal options to get to work. At NVTA, we talk about multimodal options all the time because we know you don’t just want to have cars on the road, you want to have people in buses, you want to have carpool lanes, you want to have Metro, you want to have bike riders, and walkers—every possible possible way to get workers into these facilities,” Randall said. “We want to have them.”
Rodney Lusk, Franconia district supervisor, encouraged the move. He expressed the economic impact the investment could have on the area, especially households located in what he described as “pockets of great need.”
“As someone who has spent over 20 years working in economic development, I understand what many of us understand here: that the single most efficient way to lift people out of poverty is by investing in their community and in them directly,” Lusk said. “It is hard to imagine a larger investment, either in our community or its residents, than the location of the FBI headquarters to [the] Franconia district here in Springfield.
Lusk added that, between himself and board chairman McKay, the FBI would find “no two more accessible, present, and willing partners” to assist them in navigating the efforts associated with the “complicated and magnanimous and magnificent” move.