Last year was good and 2022 is “starting off strong, but some sectors do continue to struggle,” said regional economist Joe Mengedoth. Throw in the gas price spike, the war in Ukraine and the possibility of another covid wave and there is some uncertainty. That’s how economic forecasting is. “The recent uptick is pretty encouraging,” Mengedoth added.
Mengedoth was part of a panel with others from the financial and employment sector in this area and Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk. Each had a focus and together they provided a picture of the near future for people and business leaders in Mount Vernon. Inflation is up but there are many employment vacancies too, so the overall picture was positive.
“Leisure and hospitality” is a big industry along Richmond Highway and into Mount Vernon, and Dr. Keith Waters, senior research associate at the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, said that “things have come back.” He listed a few zip codes as part of the picture, and the zip code of Fort Hunt, 22308, is in the center of a strong housing market. Zip codes 22307 and 22309 have more condominiums and townhouses so are not doing as well. “The corridor is bouncing back similar to the rest of Fairfax County,” he said.
Supervisor Lusk felt that employment training is a big factor in bringing up salaries along Richmond Highway and he’s spearheading that with a project he calls the “Wish Center.” In May 2020, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority purchased the 5.3-acre Mount Vernon Tennis Club site in the Hybla Valley area for the center. This included a 50,000 square-foot indoor tennis facility that served as a private health and racquet club for more than 45 years. Fairfax County invested funding to transform this center into the Innovations Workforce Center that is needed for the
Lusk noted the average salary in this part of Alexandria is lower compared to the rest of Fairfax County and looks at the Innovations Workforce Center to gain skills that will improve the lives of many in that area of Lee District. “We have an obligation and responsibility to help these individuals,” he said. Lusk is aiming to bring the average salary to $50,000 in the Hybla Valley area.