Goal One: Further Diversify Our Economy


To position the county for sustained economic prosperity, we need to diversify our economy. This includes being  responsive to the effects of federal sequestration, and the ongoing trend of diminished government spending in the region, as well as changing workspace requirements. We must cultivate and embrace new business areas and we must grow Fairfax County’s brand as a location for innovation and dynamic thinking. 

1.1 Pursue the creation and expansion of world class research and development in the county.

  1. Support university efforts to develop and grow as research institutions.
  2. Pursue a medical school presence (or school of public health) to attract jobs and an educated workforce, to generate research spin-offs, to help identify investment opportunities, and to capitalize on medical technology; and
  3. Support research in the life sciences, translational medicine in particular, in the county.
  4. Foster relationships and synergies with “superstar” innovators at Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, and other public and private universities located throughout the region, recognizing their key role in creating economic vitality by attracting human capital and ingenuity.

1.2 Under the direction of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, support attraction, retention, and expansion efforts in key targeted industries including high-paying jobs in existing and emerging technologies.  Industries pursued currently include data analytics, cyber security, translational medicine, other emerging technology areas, and company headquarters.  Targets should also represent diversified segments of the economy, including foreign-owned businesses and women-, minority-, and disabled veteran-owned businesses.

1.3 Promote and partner in the development of an innovation center or other similar hubs in communities and/or buildings.  Partner with businesses, public and private universities, research institutions, and/or incubators to create places that will spur and stimulate breakthrough collaboration.

  1. Define and convene an Innovation Advisory Group with public and private partners to steer the development of an innovation center.
  2. Collaborate with institutions such as George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, George Washington University, and Marymount University, existing incubators, private industry, the Center for Innovative Technology, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and other community partners in the effort.
  3. Utilize districts/hubs to showcase and encourage business startups, higher learning opportunities, and public private partnership projects. 
  4. Incorporate districts/hubs early during the land use/planning process and consider them as an important component of the county’s placemaking efforts.
  5. Designate these innovation centers or similar hubs for special treatment for development applications, for example, concurrent processing, and proactively amending the Comprehensive Plan to provide greater development flexibility in the area(s).
  6. Foster the creation of an innovation ecosystem that will attract researchers and graduate students, including the incorporation of graduate student and family housing.
  7. Potential industries of focus include high tech, data analytics, cyber security, life and health sciences, light manufacturing, with small businesses having an integral role.
  8. Non-technical small business opportunities, such as for food entrepreneurs in a food hub, should also be considered.

1.4 Strengthen partnerships with the Commonwealth to take better advantage of synergies related to key initiatives and on efforts to secure federal and state funding.  Fairfax County should support initiatives to:

  1. Encourage integrated branding efforts to identify Virginia, Northern Virginia, and the county as a place for high technology enterprises.
  2. Support efforts to fund and commercialize research and spin-off ventures by universities and local businesses.
  3. Increase state funding to incubator programs. 

1.5 Support Visit Fairfax’s strategic efforts to grow Fairfax as a tourist destination.

  1. Capitalize on growth opportunities in international visitation; business travel that includes state, regional and national association meetings; and, corporate travel. 
  2. Support the development of a conference center.
  3. Capitalize on growth opportunities in sports tourism, which may include the development of a sportsplex. 

1.6 Support Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) policies that protect and enhance Dulles International Airport’s flight portfolio. Engage in MWAA’s planning process and activities.

  1. Reinforce MWAA’s efforts to reduce per-passenger cost of operations at Dulles and to minimize the dilution of the perimeter rule. 
  2. Support improved regional transportation connectivity to airport.
  3. Support efforts to complete Silver Line Phase II, providing Metrorail access to Dulles.
  4. Add a Fairfax County representative to the Committee for Dulles and Washington Airport Task Force.


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