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Why D.C. Needs Amazon and Amazon Needs D.C.

When Washington, D.C., engineer Kenny Shin was raising the Series A round for his real estate crowdfunding startup Fundrise in 2014, potential investors urged him and his cofounders to move the company to San Francisco rather than keep it in Washington. “They would say, ‘You just don’t have the talent here,’” Mr. Shin said.

Fundrise stayed put. But lots of other entrepreneurs in the Washington area, along with tech workers, end up leaving. Local officials are hoping that will change if Amazon.com picks the area for its second headquarters, creating 50,000 jobs. They’re hoping Amazon will turn Washington into an area known for its tech talent. The region would seem to have a good shot—it has three of the 20 finalists Amazon recently announced—Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Md., and Northern Virginia.

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“We’re not new to Amazon and its employees, so it’s really more about how does Amazon see its future,” he said. “I put the caliber of people who graduate from Washington, D.C., region schools against any in the country. We’re just not retaining as much.”

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