As most REVITALIZATION probably know, our publication is based in Arlington, Virginia, home to organizations ranging from The Nature Conservancy to the Pentagon. Arlington County, and its neighbors—Alexandria and Fairfax—are three of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. They also enjoy a very high quality of life, with Arlington frequently ranking at or near #1 in the country for greenspace, public transit and walkability.
But, as REVITALIZATION publisher Storm Cunningham has long espoused in his talks and books, communities should stop working towards revitalization and resilience, just because life is good. Constant regeneration is the source of health and resilience in all living systems, and so it is with cities and regions. They start devitalizing the day they stop revitalizing. And one of the best ways to make good communities better is by enhancing regional cooperation.
Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), has pushed for years with leaders of localities such as the City of Alexandria and Arlington County to create a Northern Virginia-wide organization that promotes regional collaboration to build the area economy. Their efforts paid off on September 16, 2019 with the announcement of NOVA EDA, the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.
NOVA EDA consists of the FCEDA and representatives from nine other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia: Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, Arlington County, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, and the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.
The 10 community entities signed a memorandum of understanding that commits them to working together on regional brand creation and promotion activities and to engage more fully with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) as a regional economic development organization. VEDP offers regional organizations additional access to site-selection activities, conference attendance and familiarization tours for companies.
“This is an historic moment for Northern Virginia,” Hoskins said. “We have plowed this road alone and been successful. Imagine what we can achieve when we work together.”
Hoskins noted that Fairfax County and Northern Virginia today compete for employers and workers with technology centers such as Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City, London and Shanghai. “We have to be a bigger target. We have to take advantage of the entire housing market, the entire transportation system, the whole package. We have to handle the talent pipeline as a region, organize ourselves to work with universities and the state on the talent issues, and create more destinations for innovative people and companies,” he explained.
He added that this approach by the city of Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties helped land Amazon’s “HQ2” in Northern Virginia.
On the NOVA EDA website is a link to the memorandum of understanding, a fact sheet about the organization and bullet points about the region’s assets for business and economic growth.
Business growth and innovation helps Fairfax County fund one of the nation’s most prestigious school systems and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses a state-of-the-art infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled and well-educated workforce.
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. In addition to its headquarters in Tysons, Fairfax County’s largest business district, the FCEDA maintains business investment offices in six important global business centers: Bangalore/Mumbai, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv.
Photo (via Adobe Stock) shows Rosslyn, one of Arlington County’s many transit-oriented downtowns, with the Key Bridge to Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood in the foreground.