Economic Success

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8AM-4:30 PM M-F

703-324-4320
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035

Eta Nahapetian,
Economic Initiatives Coordinator

Economic Success Plan Goals

The plan includes six goals to make our vision of economic success a reality. They include making the county an innovation hub, supporting mixed use development, increasing the speed and predictability of the development reviews, and driving growth through equity.

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.

The county’s efforts need to be responsive to changing demographics and lifestyle preferences as Fairfax County transitions to a 21st Century community. Increasingly, a broad spectrum of age groups, from millennials to baby boomers, seek freedom from daily dependence on the automobile and prefer to live in vibrant, pedestrian–friendly spaces with an array of work and leisure activities close at hand. Furthermore, companies want to be in locations that are attractive to younger workers, and are increasingly becoming “consumers of place” in their search for suitable locations.

2.1 Continue to focus planning and development activities around the creation of mixed use communities. These should be primarily in identified activity centers served by multi-modal transportation options, which contain employment opportunities, a mix of housing types and price points, as well as vibrant retail and entertainment options.

2.2 Expand creation of livable, walkable communities that are aligned with transportation infrastructure. Support a mix of housing types to accommodate a range of ages, household sizes, incomes, and uses for long term appeal, integration, and sustainability.

  1. Explore creation of 20 Minute Neighborhoods where a variety of housing options and jobs are linked by high capacity transit to support clusters of opportunity and innovation.
  2. Initiate joint FCDOT/VDOT/Metro/VRE actions to link housing to jobs, including new transit networks, and expanded bike-pedestrian networks.
  3. Continue to provide bonus density and other development incentives as a way to promote the development of housing choice for a range of ages, household sizes, and incomes in mixed use centers.
  4. Coordinate with towns and cities within Fairfax County to ensure connectivity for livable, walkable communities.

2.3 Support higher density mixed use development in the designated revitalization areas, as a way to attract new businesses and residential growth.

  1. Explore a range of transit options to best serve the designated revitalization areas.
  2. Include the concept of expanded Transit Oriented Development in future planning efforts by increasing the radius distance recommended for higher densities from ¼ mile to at least ½ mile around mass transit stations, such as Metrorail, light/heavy rail, or other rapid transit stations.

2.4 Continue to support high quality office parks as business locations for those employers seeking this type of location, particularly those that need a high level of building or campus security.

2.5 Support efforts by businesses and community organizations to enliven places by the creation of unique and energized public spaces in activity centers.

  1. Support activities and events such as street festivals, pop-up concerts, and food markets throughout the county and in towns and cities.
  2. Support the inclusion of public art in future planning and development (i.e. artist designed street furniture, independent
  3. sculpture and installations, integrated building elements).
  4. Support the creation of one or more arts districts as determined by each community’s needs and resources (such as pop-up, temporary spaces for arts and artists; live/work art spaces and residential units; small business zoning incentives, etc.).
  5. Support the creation of a premier performing and other arts facilities in Tysons or possibly other activity centers, as both a community amenity and economic generator.

2.6 Continue to improve the overall quality of life to sustain Fairfax County’s reputation as a great place to live, work, play, and learn by protecting established neighborhoods and maintaining our superior public schools, parks, libraries, and public safety services.

2.7 Expand activities to market and brand unique, culturally diverse communities, (such as Merrifield’s live, shop, and play appeal, or Annandale as a foodie hub) in a manner similar to marketing efforts on behalf of other urban neighborhoods and places (such as NoMa, Clarendon, or Del Ray).

2.8 Study and implement ways to repurpose empty or obsolete commercial space for residential uses; urban schools or other public facilities; art and cultural purposes; live/work/manufacture uses; and/or start-up companies. Engage stakeholders in research and recommendations.

  1. Consider implementation tools such as land use and regulatory changes, innovative tax policies, and the use of public seed money or equity participation to spur or support redevelopment and infill, revitalization, and partnership opportunities for repurposing.

2.9 Preserve existing designated Industrial Areas as valuable locations for needed light manufacturing, warehousing, service, and distribution uses that support county residents and businesses.

2.10 Continue to develop complete street guidelines for all activity centers in the county. In partnership with VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, better utilize public rights of way for improved accessibility, safety, and connectivity by all modes:

  1. Implement pedestrian, bike and roadway improvements around Phase II Silver Line stations.
  2. Continue to fund and implement infrastructure improvements that include additional bicycle and pedestrian improvements on overpasses or tunnels and acquire easements for new trails and park greenways where appropriate.
  3. Continue implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan recommendations.
  4. Promote bike lanes in areas where they have been identified in the Bicycle Master Plan.
  5. Implement urban design standards to support street amenities such as street furniture in projects to encourage pedestrian activity.
  6. Continue implementation of connected pedestrian facilities, particularly in activity centers.
  7. Address the need for additional roadway capacity in activity centers through context sensitive improvement projects and development of an enhanced street grid.

2.11 Support the implementation of a comprehensive “Health in All Policies” plan that integrates concepts that promote healthy living with a renewed focus on placemaking. Projects included in the plan should focus on increasing physical activity, better nutrition, and expanding access to health care, parkland, and recreation centers.

  1. Increase focus of the Transportation Advisory Commission and the Trails Committee on projects related to pedestrian and bicycle transportation and transit.

Foster and facilitate a dynamic land development and entitlement process.  The process should provide a meaningful participatory role for county residents to ensure that the community’s vision for growth, redevelopment and community reinvestment is realized.   The process should recognize that time-to-market is crucial and the county should work internally and with its partners to ensure a timely and predictable review process that is agile enough to respond to market demand.

 3.1 Streamline the process for amending the Comprehensive Plan.  This would allow for greater agility and flexibility to respond to specific business opportunities and could reduce the overall time to market.

  1. Improve the process by which Plan amendments are considered concurrently with a development application.

3.2 Evaluate and amend as necessary the Zoning Ordinance, Public Facilities Manual, and other regulatory documents and processes to ensure that we keep pace with current markets and development demands and conditions, as well as state of the art regulatory techniques.  Recognize importance of standards to create desired vibrant, pedestrian friendly activity centers, while maintaining the integrity of stable suburban areas.  As appropriate, test the efficacy and benefits of such proposed changes in the county’s designated revitalization districts/areas.

  1. Examine the content and application of the Public Facilities Manual to ensure that the manual is used as a guideline, and is not considered minimum design standards or requirements. 
  2. Accommodate increased urbanization and provide guidance for the evolving nature of development and urban structures.
  3. Update outdated terminology and definitions.
  4. Prioritize regulatory changes to have the biggest impacts on business development.
  5. Focus on minimizing the use of waivers to implement development consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
  6. Review Zoning Ordinance to allow for flexible provisions that support innovative small businesses, start-ups, and other companies in strategic locations.
  7. Consider innovative ideas such as live-work units and pop-up activities in vacant spaces as a means of providing temporary opportunities to enliven spaces and demonstrate market demand and viability.
  8. Provide flexibility to encourage public art displays and incorporate retail arts opportunities.
  9. Consider exempting building space dedicated for public uses from density calculations.
  10. Streamline Zoning Ordinance requirements and increase flexibility for housing that is affordable for all our residents and workforce.
  11. Provide regulatory flexibility, including for parking, to help fill vacant retail and other spaces expeditiously and to incentivize users to locate in these spaces.
  12. Continue to work with growing industries to ensure that our ordinances and processes keep pace with expanding and evolving opportunities.
  13. Study proffers and development conditions to determine if they are a disincentive to development.

3.3 Develop a business model for regulatory services designed around meeting agreed upon service levels.

  1. Foster a culture of open communication and engagement among the development industry, county review staff and decision-makers, and the community, with a focus on helping applicants get to the finish line.  Consider an ombudsman for the development process.
  2. Encourage a cooperative, collaborative framework of zoning, site, fire marshal, and building plan review.
  3. Evaluate options for allowing concurrent submission and review of the traditionally sequential development processes.
  4. Explore restructuring of operations to increase efficiency, such as unifying functions across land development agencies.
  5. Evaluate an Enterprise Fund for land development agencies to facilitate the timely review and approval of plans and permits in zoning, site, building and fire marshal review and inspections to meet service level expectations from industry.
  6. Implement a comprehensive work plan to improve performance, with a focus on timeliness, consistency, responsiveness to customers, and quality control.
  7. Ensure revitalization projects remain a priority throughout the entitlement and regulatory review processes.
  8. Identify, compare, and evaluate metrics for land use decisions with other area jurisdictions and with jurisdictions around the country to identify and implement best practices for streamlining services.

 3.4 Leverage technology to create internal efficiencies in the regulatory process and to improve customer service.

 

 

Fairfax County recognizes that its investment in public infrastructure not only serves to protect and enrich the lives of its citizens, but also serves to attract new private investment and to achieve its long-term land use and development goals. Increasingly, economic success is dependent upon connections to an efficient intermodal transportation network, a sustainable and natural environment, a modern educational system(s) and vibrant public spaces. Such systems provide the ingredients and are assets for a diversified and prosperous economy. Moving forward, Fairfax County will continue to explore new and innovative technologies that make our infrastructure and public assets more efficient, more environmentally effective, and subsequently, more sustainable. 

4.1 Implement Board’s environmental vision, priorities, and goals, as identified in the Board of Supervisors’ Environmental Vision.

  1. Ensure a focus on the environment and sustainability principles in county development policies, while seeking to balance the impact on the time and cost of the development process.

4.2 Dedicate funding and establish longer term maintenance strategies for existing and proposed county-owned infrastructure and facilities.

4.3 Maximize return on investment potential for all county assets, including land and facilities, by leveraging partnership opportunities with both private and public partners to construct and operate infrastructure and facilities throughout the county.

  1. Examine the county’s adopted Capital Improvement Program for these types of partnership opportunities.

4.4 Encourage the use of Business Improvement Districts or other similar concepts for funding streetscapes, landscaping, park plazas, and other related infrastructure.

  1. Identify opportunities with the development industry to meet the community needs.  Projects could include dedication of land, construction of public facilities, maintenance or upgrading of facilities such as tot lots, and sidewalk construction and repair.

4.5 Continue and expand interactions with internal and external service providers, including public safety and utility providers. Plan for service delivery changes within more urban environments.

4.6 Ensure that the county is leveraging all funding opportunities to fund infrastructure.

  1. Consider feasibility of a Local Opportunity Fund to accelerate planned infrastructure improvements located near current or future businesses. Partner with FCEDA to identify businesses, particularly those not eligible for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.
  2. Review and update as necessary the county's 16 Principles in Support of Commercial Redevelopment that guides the county’s involvement in public-private ventures in revitalization areas.

 4.7 Continue to implement capacity improvements and congestion mitigation options for regional transportation corridors such as Interstate 66, Route 28, Richmond Highway, and the Fairfax County Parkway.

4.8 Continue to expand transit service where appropriate to unserved and underserved areas; increase service on higher density routes; add more mid-day, evening, and weekend services.

4.9 Incorporate greater use of transit into Comprehensive Plan updates associated with the county’s activity centers.

4.10 Continue to improve the county’s multimodal transportation system which connects activity centers and within activity centers.

4.11 Promote the accessibility and use of the county’s Amtrak stations.

The county will engage all segments of the community regardless of income, education, and attainment. Helping people reach their highest level of personal achievement is vital to our region’s successful ability to compete in the global economy. Linking people to opportunities including education, workforce development, employment, and affordable housing helps ensure lifelong learning, resilience, and economic success.

 5.1 Maintain focus and funding on Fairfax County’s world class public schools as a key pillar in the county’s economic success strategy.

  1. Expand access to quality early child care and Pre-K education for all.
  2. Ensure adequate resources for Fairfax County Public Schools Career and Technical Education programs.

5.2 Ensure coordination and efficient delivery of workforce and training programs with Northern Virginia Community College and Fairfax County Public Schools.

  1. Encourage the formation of key employer stakeholder groups to identify and assess existing workforce development and vocational training programs and confirm alignment with meeting current and projected employment needs in Fairfax County.

5.3 Expand opportunities for students with financial need to pursue post-secondary training and education.

  1. Encourage tuition assistance and internship or apprenticeships for technical/vocational/middle-skill training to meet projected high-demand occupations and to help ensure that these growing industry sectors are available to under-represented students.
  2. Support actions to link scholarships and assistance to qualified students to pursue higher education, including under-represented populations. 

5.4 Expand STEM and STEAM training and preparation.

  1. Encourage the county’s educational institutions/partners to identify where investments are currently being made in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as well as the arts (STEAM) activities in Fairfax County; and, quantify and prioritize resources needed to sustain or expand the
    most effective programs and partnerships.

5.5 Explore policy opportunities, strategies or frameworks to address the issue of social equity within the context of economic success.

5.6 Promote and explore creative housing solutions in all county-sponsored projects. A full spectrum of housing types, densities, and prices are essential to provide choices not otherwise provided by the market. Explore greater use of land use incentives and regulations to encourage a variety of urban infill housing opportunities. Continue to implement and refine when necessary the county’s Workforce Dwelling Unit Rental Program and Affordable Dwelling Unit Program

5.7 Identify a recurring, sustainable funding source which can be reinvested into projects which preserve housing affordability and produce new affordable housing units.

  1. Reinvest the proceeds from the sale of the county-owned Redevelopment and Housing Authority assets to support implementation of the 2015 Housing Blueprint

Fairfax County strives to create a culture that makes our community an attractive location for all businesses. We recognize that to be successful, this responsibility must be shared throughout the organization. We further recognize limits to government action and the need to establish partnerships with both the private and nonprofit sectors. Governmental action requires an open dialogue with all of our residents and partners based on trust and transparency. The county’s goal is to create broad community benefit by increasing economic growth and prosperity.

6.1 Create a culture that ensures that all county employees and leaders understand that sustained economic success is a countywide business necessity and that the work our employees and leaders do has a direct impact on that success.

6.2 Continue to foster coordination and collaboration among county departments and authorities, industry groups, institutions of higher education, non-profits, and stakeholders involved in activities that affect the county’s economic success. 

6.3 Work regionally with other jurisdictions on select initiatives consistent with the Strategic Plan to Facilitate the Economic Success of Fairfax County.

6.4 Ensure the skills of our county workforce are aligned with evolving land use patterns in the county, including the transition from a suburban to urban environment.

6.5 Develop a robust communication and outreach plan to inform county residents, employees, developers, and those who want to do business in or visit the county about the county’s successful programs and innovative projects.

  1. Promote more proactive policies and procedures on social media and alternative communication channels and technologies to reach a more diverse and younger demographic.  Ensure that a dedicated social media coordinator exists to support this effort.
  2. Facilitate dialogue and collaboration among the many networking and development programs for young professionals to engage and determine desirable economic, social, and cultural opportunities.

6.6 Cultivate new voices. 

  1. Increase resident engagement at all levels.
  2. Ensure that Boards, Authorities, and Commissions reflect the demographics of the larger community.

6.7 Develop a legislative strategy to pursue state-enabling authority to implement key actions in the plan as appropriate.

Ask Fairfax Virtual Assistant