To hear Dr. Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), tell it, plenty of good reasons exist why businesses flock to Northern Virginia — good schools, educated population, strong information technology resources, proximity to Washington and two major airports, friendly tax base, and breadth of hospitality service.
“Do we need more jobs in Fairfax County?” Gordon asked. “Yes, we do. Businesses bring more to the county than they take in. Who’s going to pay for the services county residents expect? Businesses are.”
He said that Northern Virginia is better-positioned to attract and maintain new business than either Maryland or the District. The Northern Virginia area, Gordon said, targets businesses with an eye to future economic impact. “Fortunately, we compete with Maryland and the District who outstupid us,” Gordon said.
Gordon was the guest speaker at the April 15 ViennaTysons Regional Chamber of Commerce (VTRCC) nonprofit luncheon at Morton’s of Tysons Corner. Every year, VTRCC recognizes the strength and contributions of community nonprofits. The 5,900 nonprofits, from associations representing a constituency to charitable foundations, headquartered in the county make up a number greater than that of 21 other states in the U.S combined.
“We’re the marketing arm of the county,” said Gordon. “We are primarily into getting businesses into office space in Fairfax County.” Nonprofits, he said, are an important market for marketing and development in the county.
CITING EXAMPLES in his presentation, Gordon noted that biotechnology brings in greater revenue and economic contribution than scientific research does. Where once lab sciences reigned supreme in the bioscience industry, the county sees a future where 80 percent of scientific output will be on the technology side. Fairfax County, he said, is stronger on information science than the home state of NIH.
There is, he said, “enormous wealth” in Fairfax County which inspires a demand for commercial and retail services while, at the same time, making demands on community services, from educational resources to recreational ones. Business tax revenue reduces homeowners’ tax burdens.
During Gordon’s question and answer period, a guest asked about his wish list. He acknowledged that, for many, reducing traffic congestion was a priority, but he looked at it from a different perspective. Traffic, he said, means people are going to work, they have jobs.
“I worry more about affordable housing than I do traffic,” said Gordon. “Where are our police and emergency responders going to live?
“Some businesses can’t relocate here because their employees can’t afford to buy housing here.”
When Westfields in Chantilly is fully built-out, it will help alleviate congestion in the Tysons/Reston area, Gordon said.
VTRCC MEMBER NONPROFITS were invited to host a table at the luncheon where more than 50 guests showed up. Alternative House, Alzheimer’s Family Day Center, Fairfax Public Access, Food for Others, Northern Virginia Family Service, NOVACO, Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna (SCOV), Training Futures of NVES and Vienna Assembly of God participated.
Gina Cocomello, VTRCC chairman of the Board and Alternative House development director, reminded everyone, “think about what nonprofits give back to the community.”