Things are looking pretty good for Arlington, economy-wise — at least according to a presentation this morning by Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer.
Unemployment and office vacancies are low. Real estate prices and hotel occupancy rates are on the rise. And a number of new construction projects are underway. Holzheimer said he expects the local unemployment rate to continue declining in 2011 while the impact from BRAC is mitigated by a robust demand for office space.
Holzheimer noted that between 2008 and 2010, Arlington saw a net employment increase while Alexandria and Fairfax saw a net employment decline.
Today’s presentation included a list of the top public and private employers in Arlington. The total number employees in Arlington in 2011 is noted below in parenthesis.
Given the current talk in Congress of significant federal budget cuts, Arlington’s large number of government employees may be of some concern.
- Deloitte (3,490)
- Lockheed Martin (2,668)
- Virginia Hospital Center (2,042)
- Marriott International (1,600)
- Booz Allen Hamilton (1,370)
- SRA International (1,359)
- CACI (1,251)
- US Airways (1,300)
- SAIC (1,281)
- Corporate Executive Board (986)
Officials from Arlington’s economic development office asked the county board to fund the county’s tourism promotion efforts now that the hotel tax surcharge that funded such efforts is being allowed to expire.
“I think we have a great program,” Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer said at a board work session this afternoon. “The program has value.”
“This board has been put in a very difficult position,” said board member Jay Fisette, adding that he hope to “come up with some way to share” the cost of tourism promotion with local hotels to save money from the already-stretched county budget.
Although Arlington has developed “much, much stronger ties to the local hotel industry,” Holzheimer told the board that he did not believe hotel operators could be persuaded to make a voluntary contribution to a tourism fund from their bottom line.
“Even if we got a few to do it, I don’t think the majority would do it,” he said.
With that in mind, Holzheimer asked the board to allocate $450,000 from the county’s budget to fund the Convention and Visitor service between between Jan. 1, 2012, when the current surcharge expires, and June 1, 2012, when the surcharge could be reinstated.
Holzheimer said he believes the Virginia General Assembly, which rejected the renewal of Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge last month, might be persuaded to to pass it next year.
“I do believe we’ll mount an effort next year and be successful,” Holzheimer said.
Board member Barbara Favola, however, was skeptical of the General Assembly passing an Arlington-friendly tax measure.
“I don’t think that’s a realistic position,” she said.
The board will adopt a final FY 2012 budget in April.
The event, “Food Carts: Regulations and Best Practices 2011,” will be held between 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. on March 9 at the Central Library auditorium (1015 North Quincy Street). Registration is free.
Among the featured speakers will be District Taco owner Osiris Hoil, who “will share his insight on how he used his food cart business to secure a retail lease in Arlington County.” Representatives from the Arlington’s health department, police department and tax office will also be on hand.
“Are you interested in learning the legal aspects of opening this type of business in Arlington County from local regulators?” Arlington Economic Development asked in its email flier for the event. “During these tough economic times, small businesses throughout the United States are launching food carts at record rates as alternatives to leasing commercial retail space.”
The event is sponsored by BizLaunch and the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The nominations are in for the ABBIES, Arlington’s annual business awards. Now it’s time to cast your vote in categories like Arlington’s Best “Bargain” Restaurant, Arlington’s Best Happy Hour and Arlington’s Best Community-Based Nonprofit. (Disclaimer: the ABBIES are an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
This year, there’s actually a category that more important than the others, at least as far as we’re concerned. It’s the Best Place to Learn Something New category, featuring a take-no-prisoners competition between Arlington Public Library, Adagio Ballet, Fitness Break, Saffron Dance and yours truly, ARLnow.com.
That’s right, this site is nominated. Thank you to everybody who helped make that happen! Now it’s time to bring it home.
Go to the official voting page and, if you’re so inclined, tick the box next to our name.
The winners will be announced on Nov. 16.
If Thursday’s groundbreaking for the 1812 North Moore Street office tower was anything, it was a vote of confidence in the DC area, and Rosslyn specifically, as a commercial center.
“The fundementals of our market are probably the best in the entire country, if not the world,” said Tim Helmig, the executive who just placed a $30 million bet on Rosslyn. “Investors worldwide have focused on the [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor.”
Helmig, who heads the DC office New York-based Monday Properties, said he is embarking on the project without a signed tenant and without full financing because he believes that demand for office space in Rosslyn will be there once the building is completed. His company is so sure of Rosslyn’s viability that a full 45 percent of the company’s portfolio, in square feet, is based here.
“You’re seeing that a market like Rosslyn can withstand what is arguably the worst recession in American history, and move forward on a speculative office building,” Helmig said as a group of developers and local leaders gathered for lunch on the empty 30th floor of an existing Monday Properties building on Wilson Boulevard.
Congressman Jim Moran, who joined Arlington officials and Monday Property executives on stage at the ceremonial groundbreaking, said the event will help inspire confidence in the country’s economic recovery.
“This sends a signal to the whole region that the future is going to be brighter than the past,” Moran said. “It has made it clear that [the Washington area] is going to lead the country out of this recession.”
Calling Rosslyn the area’s “second downtown,” Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer said that 1812 North Moore Street, and the still-stalled Central Place towers, are big steps in the continuing evolution of Rosslyn.
“This building and Central Place and some others are going to change the market dynamics of Rosslyn,” he said. “It’s going to be competing with some of the best of the District.”
As we’ve reported before, Arlington’s unemployment rate has stayed remarkably low during the course of the recession. But in case you needed further proof of the resilience of the county’s economy, look no further than the way money is being spent in Arlington.
A newsletter from Arlington’s economic development authority reveals that local spending on restaurants and retail goods is up significantly compared to 2009.
The meals taxes payed by Arlington restaurants jumped by 9.2 percent for the first three months of the year, according to Arlington Economic Development. In addition to the booming restaurant receipts, retail sales rose 11.2 percent in March.
Northern Virginia stands to lose $6 to $7 billion dollars through 2012 as a result of cuts in defense contracting announced yesterday, says George Mason University’s Stephen Fuller. But Arlington’s economic authority expects the impact on the county to be minimal.
“I do believe that we are positioned well for the future,” says Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer.
Holzheimer admits that predicting the exact impact on Arlington economically is “complex,” and will not be known with a reasonable level of certainty until the Department of Defense comes out with its next budget. But, he says, the diversifying Arlington economy should be able to weather cuts in contracting as it has weathered BRAC.
“Our economy is in somewhat of a transition anyhow,” with more corporate, non-government and non-profit tenants moving in, Holzeimer said. He added that many of the contracting offices in Arlington perform lobbying and administrative functions — which are not likely to be heavily cut.
In terms of federal facilities, Holzheimer says that Arlington is especially well-positioned.
“It has zero impact on the Pentagon itself, and I don’t think it will have any impact on Ft. Myer,” Holzheimer said. He said that the other two big DoD facilities in Arlington — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research — probably will not feel much of an impact. In fact, he says, DARPA’s mission may be expanded.
Holzheimer said that Arlington also stands to benefit from a federal directive to put federal facilities in areas that are economically and environmentally-sustainable. Arlington’s transit infrastructure, pedestrian-friendliness and energy management make it an idea location.
“We are probably way ahead of everybody,” in terms of taking advantage of the directive, he said. “We’re fairly confident of our position.”
Arlington is missing out on millions of dollars worth of annual tax revenue because of overly restrictive rules governing how lawyers are admitted to the Virginia Bar, according to a new report by Arlington Economic Development.
AED says that Arlington could be a very attractive location for major law firms. After all, real estate rates in Arlington are significantly lower than K Street and the other prime DC environs currently favored by large firms. Plus, a higher concentration of lawyers live in Arlington than the District, according to AED.
However, a tough written exam is required for admission into the Virginia Bar, even for lawyers already licensed in Florida, California, Maryland and, in many cases, DC. By contrast, the DC Bar only requires a simple application to admit lawyers from states like Florida, California and Maryland. AED says that gives DC firms a big recruiting advantage over Virginia firms, and precludes Arlington from serious consideration as a destination for major law firms.
Membership in the Virginia Bar is required in order to practice law in the Commonwealth.
AED is calling on Virginia’s Board of Bar Examiners to consider ways to adjust the rules, which are set by the Virginia Supreme Court but administered by the Board.
“Both Arlington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia would have a significant positive net fiscal impact from some adjustments to the rules governing admission to membership in the Virginia Bar,” AED said in its report.
The organization estimates that if Arlington could attract one out of every five DC firms with leases expiring over the next ten years, it could bring a tax windfall: nearly $4 million per year for Arlington, and $500,000 per year for the state.