Economic Opportunity

Outcome Statement

Fairfax County is a place where all people, businesses and places are thriving economically.




About the Sections

Each priority area includes the following:

  • Outcome Statement: The aspirational future state for Fairfax County.
  • Introduction/Summary: Context about the priority area.
  • Challenge Questions: Describe the problem/opportunity people are experiencing informed by evidence, data, subject expertise, outside perspectives and realities.
  • Indicators: Ways to measure progress, both for the community at large and for county government. They are clear, quantifiable and they help manage progress.
  • Metrics: Specific data points to track whether Fairfax County is making progress.
  • Strategies: Actions that need to be taken to address identified challenges that “move the needle” on indicators and metrics.


Fairfax County is well known for its world-class public schools, high median income, low unemployment, community safety, concentration of corporate headquarters and other key indicators of community health and economic prosperity. The county’s competitive advantage is routinely confirmed by regional, state and national data measures. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely exacerbated the pre-existing economic challenges of the many people, businesses and places that lack the resources to address basic needs, realize economic growth, and achieve sustained prosperity within our community.

On an individual level, many highly paid workers in technology and other white-collar jobs were able to quickly pivot to telework, and already had access to more resources to offset any financial setbacks. For others, especially those who work in the service industry (hotels, restaurants, and most retail businesses) job loss has been compounded by the lack of a financial “cushion,” resulting in a loss of economic self-sufficiency or further descent into poverty. In addition, many front-line workers experienced significant health risks while also trying to locate safe and affordable childcare for their families.

More than ever, it is clear that full economic recovery from COVID-19 and continued prosperity into the future requires the stability of all people, businesses, and places throughout Fairfax County. These strategies, in alignment with the county’s proposed Economic Recovery Framework, seek to accelerate our economic recovery, improve upward mobility for all residents, support the resilience and rebuilding of small businesses, and continue to support actions that make Fairfax County the premier place to live, work, and play.

Challenge Questions

1. How can we continue to transform Fairfax County into an innovative economic center that can successfully compete nationally and globally?

2. How can we ensure all workers are well-positioned to attain the skills that will be needed to meet the requirements of the jobs of the future?

3. How do we continue to expand non-federal sectors of the local economy?

4. How do we position ourselves to best compete in, collaborate with and maximize economic opportunity within the regional economy?

5. How do we continue to support a culture of entrepreneurship and small business development where all have opportunities to thrive?

6. How will we cultivate the full economic potential of all community members and places across all areas of the county, leveraging diversity as a competitive advantage for our economy?


1. Business Health and Industry Diversification

2. Personal/Family Economic Stability and Mobility

3. Workforce Readiness

4. Economic Innovation

5. Economic Vibrancy of Communities


Indicator: Business Health and Industry Diversification


• # of jobs created by businesses in Fairfax County

• # of jobs created by Fairfax County as a result of county contracts

• # of businesses located in Fairfax County, broken down by size, industry and ownership demographics

• # of businesses relocating to Fairfax County and the corresponding # of new jobs created

• % of businesses participating in Fairfax County business support programs or services that report high satisfaction with those programs or services


Indicator: Personal/Family Economic Stability and Mobility


• % of households with income at or below federal poverty level

• % of individuals/families whose hourly wages meet or exceed the MIT living wage definition for their family size

• % of residents who are employed

• % of Census Designated Places in Fairfax County that have a median income equal to or greater than the countywide median income

• # and % of participants in Fairfax County-supported personal financial capability programs who achieve a positive financial capability-related outcome

• % of participants in Fairfax County-supported economic opportunity services who report that those services meet expectations


Indicator: Workforce Readiness


• % of residents with a post-secondary degree/certification

• # of jobs in Fairfax County that remain unfilled for more than six months

• # of individuals participating in Fairfax County-supported internships

• # and % of participants in Fairfax County-supported employment programs who achieve a positive employment-related outcome


Indicator: Economic Innovation


• # of patents issued to Fairfax County-based inventors

• # of businesses located in Fairfax County owning intellectual property

• # of new startups located in Fairfax County, broken down by industry

• # of dollars of new capital investment in Fairfax County-based businesses

• Return on county investment in innovation-related activities (e.g., Economic Opportunity Reserve projects, etc.)

• # of new jobs created by high-growth startup businesses participating in Fairfax County programs

• # of dollars invested by Fairfax County in partnerships that advance innovative initiatives

• % of county-supported initiatives aimed at assisting high-growth start-up businesses that achieve their specified performance targets


Indicator: Economic Vibrancy of Communities


• % of vacant commercial/industrial space

• % of working-age residents who both work and live in Fairfax County

• Ratio of assessed value of non-residential real estate to residential real estate

• # of dollars of Fairfax County investment in targeted activity areas and centers

• % of land development projects that exceed benchmark review time goals, broken down by project types in the land development process and benchmarked against industry norms

• % of administrative review requests/applications related to land development completed within 30 calendar days


Improve Access to Employment Supports

  • EO 1. Provide residents with a comprehensive menu of available services and resources to promote individual and family economic opportunity, and facilitate broad access through proactive community engagement.
  • EO 2. Focus efforts on removing barriers such as lack of affordable housing, childcare and transportation that limit participation in the workforce and employment-related programs.
  • EO 3. Integrate evidence-based interventions in the areas of wealth building and personal financial coaching into existing county and community programs that are designed to promote economic self-sufficiency.


Promote an Agile Policy and Regulatory Environment

  • EO 4. Implement transparent and flexible land development policies, regulations and processes that keep pace with market conditions and technological innovations.
  • EO 5. Streamline the land development process to reduce time to market.
  • EO 6. Enhance the county’s capacity to gather and use high-quality socioeconomic and other relevant market data, making it available and consumable for improved data-driven decision making, especially related to land development and investments in communities with the greatest need to improve economic opportunity.


Attract and Support Businesses

  • EO 7. Collaborate with the business community to explore innovative approaches to enhance efforts to attract, retain, support and expand businesses, particularly in target industries and across various types and sizes.
  • EO 8. Advance the skills of new business owners by assessing currently available county and community services and building a more coordinated and impactful network of expertise and support.


Leverage Partnerships, Collaboration and Competition

  • EO 9. Identify, and work to remove at the state level, obstacles to targeting economic opportunity enhancement and sustainability in areas such as local procurement.
  • EO 10. Facilitate improved connection of employers to qualified talent by increasing awareness of workforce services and incentives.
  • EO 11. Partner with businesses, universities, research institutions and incubators to foster innovation that supports high-impact entrepreneurship, attracts capital, creates jobs, builds a relevant workforce and stimulates economic growth.


Prioritize Placemaking

  • EO 12. Focus land development efforts on creating a variety of vibrant, transit-connected, walkable mixed-use destinations throughout the county that meet the needs of residents, employers and the workforce.
  • EO 13. Prioritize the use of innovative and evidence-based regulatory, financial and other incentives to transform areas where residents face numerous economic and social challenges into communities of opportunity.


Build a Strong Workforce and Support Competitive Skills Attainment for Residents

  • EO 14. Develop and execute a compelling marketing strategy to support efforts by Fairfax County businesses to recruit and retain talented employees, highlighting and promoting the competitive advantages of the county and the region.
  • EO 15. Develop and implement a roadmap that enables our most economically disadvantaged residents to build fundamental workforce competencies, including technology acumen and English proficiency, in alignment with employer requirements and through leveraging existing county and community resources.
  • EO 16. Leverage the county’s position as a large employer to build a diverse, representative workforce, continually developing the skills of existing employees; increasing internships and other work-based learning opportunities for youth; and providing access to key employment supports such as affordable housing, childcare and transportation.

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