Arlington 5th Richest County: Q&A With Economic Development
A brief chat with Karen Vasquez, PR manager for Arlington Economic Development on why the county does so well and if she thinks that success will continue.
Newsweek reported last week on the results of the American Community Survey, compiled using census data. It lists Arlington as the 5th richest county in America. Though Arlington frequently ends up on these sorts of lists, we wanted to know a little bit about why, in AED's opinion, Arlington is so successful. Most of these reports point to federal money, and the fact that 7 out of 10 of the counties on this list are in Maryland and Virginia seem to point to that.
CP: Does it all come down to government money?
Karen Vasquez: With the Pentagon being in Arlington, and Washington D.C. on our front doorstep, I think it would be easy to assume that Arlington's economy is completely driven by the Federal sector. To be certain, we do enjoy the benefits of our proximity to Washington, D.C. as well as being home to DoD's HQ. However, Arlington's economy is fairly diversified. We have a large number of associations and non profit organizations, technology firms, consulting firms and more.
CP: Are BRAC-related office closures going to affect these statistics?
Karen Vasquez: When the 2005 BRAC list came out, we characterized the situation as "serious but manageable". Our wish would have been to keep all the Federal agencies on the BRAC list of course – an Arlington location provides them with close proximity to the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. and each other, plus Arlington offers a Metro location – their moves will place literally thousands and thousands of cars on already clogged highways. That said, we were also confident that the BRAC moves would not be a fatal blow to our economy – our proximity, our infrastructure, our educated workforce and the "good company" still in Arlington would continue to make Arlington an attractive place to do business. So, as we prepare for the September 2011 deadline, we are backfilling vacated space and continuing to welcome new organizations into Arlington.
CP: Has Arlington always been so wealthy? When did it start appearing on these lists?
Karen Vasquez: I think the reason you see Arlington on so many of these lists is more a function of there being a lot more of these lists than necessarily any seismic change in Arlington's economy. Arlington's enjoyed a period of stability that is uncommon across the U.S.: our population is one of the most educated in the entire United States, we possess a unique combination of private sector businesses, universities and government research agencies that creates some very interesting and profitable synergistic energy for the businesses that locate here. Plus, we offer sustainable, walkable, transit oriented neighborhoods, amazing schools – it's all a very attractive combination and has driven much of Arlington's success.
The opinions expressed in this interview do not represent the views of Patch.