Economic Opportunity

Community Outcome Area: Economic Opportunity

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




Fairfax County is well known for its quality public schools, high median income, low unemployment rate, overall public safety, high concentration of both corporate headquarters and higher education institutions and other key indicators of economic prosperity. Further, the county continues to gain recognition as a source of top talent, especially in the professional and technology sectors.

At the same time, data analysis at the local level reveals that many people and neighborhoods throughout the county do not have equal access to opportunity and are prevented from realizing sustained prosperity and economic mobility as a result. There is also a need to connect historically marginalized people with new job growth, to invest in workforce training and other supports and to help residents achieve financial self-sufficiency.

With the recognition that future economic growth requires the full participation of all Fairfax County populations and places, the proposed strategies in this section focus on building the earning power of residents, supporting startups and small businesses, strategically investing in people and places with lower access to opportunity, and continuing to strongly support the favorable climate that has established Fairfax County as a truly outstanding place to build careers and grow businesses. 

Challenge Questions

  1. How can we ensure all workers are well-positioned to attain the necessary skills to meet the requirements of the jobs of the future?
  2. 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?
  3. How can we continue to transform Fairfax County into an innovative economic center that can successfully compete nationally and globally? 
  4. How do we continue to expand non-federal sectors of the local economy?
  5. How do we position ourselves to best compete in, collaborate with and maximize economic opportunity within the regional economy?
  6. How do we continue to support a culture of entrepreneurship and small business development where all have opportunities to thrive?


  • Healthy Businesses in a Diverse Mix of Industries
  • Economic Stability and Upward Mobility for All People
  • Preparing People for the Workforce
  • Promoting Innovation in the Local Economy
  • Promoting Economic Vibrancy in All Parts of Fairfax County

Proposed Strategies

These proposed strategies were developed based on the extensive background work completed by the Countywide Strategic Planning Teams. The Board will determine which strategies will be pursued, as well as when they might be undertaken. This process will be highly flexible and will adapt to respond to community conditions as they evolve over time.

Economic Stability and Upward Mobility for All People

  • 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 (also under Promoting Economic Vibrancy in All Parts of Fairfax County).
  • 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.

Promoting Economic Vibrancy in All Parts of Fairfax County

  • 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. Use data, disaggregated by population and place, to guide land development and investment in communities with the greatest need to improve economic opportunity.

Healthy Businesses in a Diverse Mix of Industries

  • 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 (also under Promoting Innovation in the Local Economy).
  • 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 (also under Promoting Innovation in the Local Economy).

Promoting Innovation in the Local Economy

  • EO 9. Identify, and work to remove at the state level, obstacles to targeted economic opportunity enhancement and sustainability in areas such as local procurement.
  • 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.
  • 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 (also under Economic Stability and Upward Mobility for All People).

Preparing People for the Workforce

  • EO 10. Facilitate improved connection between employers and qualified talent by increasing awareness of workforce services and incentives (also under Economic Stability and Upward Mobility for All People).
  • 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.

Sample Metrics

Indicator: Healthy Businesses in a Diverse Mix of Industries

  • # 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: Economic Stability and Upward Mobility for All People

  • % 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: Preparing People for the Workforce

  • % 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: Promoting Innovation in the Local Economy

  • # 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: Promoting Economic Vibrancy in All Parts of Fairfax County

  • % 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



Fairfax Virtual Assistant