The Best Economic Development Job in America

By Buddy Rizer, Director, Loudoun Economic Development

“I have the greatest economic development job in the country.”

It was with those 10 words that I began my speech at a recent conference in front of a group of business people.

As Director of Economic Development for Loudoun County, Virginia, I represent a community that is a true success story in today’s economy.  While much of the U.S. was hit hard by the recession and the slow comeback that followed, Loudoun has continued to grow at historic rates on many levels.

As the Loudoun Times-Mirror noted on August 13, “Loudoun County is driving the region’s economy.”

The report quoted data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that shows that per capita income in Loudoun grew at nearly twice the rate of jurisdictions in Virginia and the U.S., and more than five times the rate of Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria.  That is significant because it is those two jurisdictions that have historically been the benchmarks for the region’s growth.

The BEA statistics show Loudoun’s per capita personal income increased from $52,000 in 2008 to $60,000 in 2012. Our department has reported that the annual household income is at about $120,000 for the county, the highest in the U.S.  Loudoun also continues to grow at the fastest rate in Virginia. Our population has doubled in the last 15 years and continues to trend upward.

Much credit for this success goes to the past and current Boards of Supervisors.  Loudoun has greatly benefited from smart, long-term planning and strong fiscal guidance. Once again this year, the nation’s top bond agencies have reaffirmed the county’s AAA bond rating on general obligation bonds.  This is significant for a growing community like Loudoun, giving us the best possible interest rates for the many capital projects needed to meet the growing needs of the residents.

The primary mission of the Department of Economic Development is to help grow the commercial tax base for the county, bringing in new business and helping our existing businesses grow in an effort to reduce the tax burden on our residents.  I’m happy to report that business continues to boom in Loudoun.

FY14 was a year of growth and diversification for our business community.  Data Center Alley continues to grow and provide a very solid base for our commercial development.  We now have more than 5.5 million square feet of data center space, with plenty more on the way.  Beyond that, we had huge commercial retention announcements such as the Telos Corporation, tallied 35 new “wins” worth almost $250 million in new investment from businesses deciding to move to or expand in Loudoun; grew our rural economy in many exciting ways, and bolstered our small business and entrepreneurship program.

When you consider those successes, and the opportunities ahead at Dulles International Airport and the coming Silver Line expansion into Loudoun, the future looks awfully bright for Loudoun County.  As I said before, “I have the greatest economic development job in the country.”

 

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