Arlington has a new economic development director

Ryan Touhill (photo courtesy Arlington County)

A nationwide search for a new Director of Arlington Economic Development found someone close to home: in Alexandria.

Arlington County announced that Ryan Touhill, Senior Vice President of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, will assume AED’s top job on Monday, Nov. 28.

Touhill, 38, takes the reins after a turbulent few years at the top ranks of the county’s economic development arm.

He succeeds Shannon Flanagan-Watson, AED’s interim director following the departure of Telly Tucker, who served just over two years in the role. Tucker left for a new job this spring, around the same time as AED Deputy Director Cynthia Richmond retired.

Prior to Tucker’s arrival, the leadership team that helped woo Amazon and its HQ2 to Arlington decamped to neighboring counties. Former AED director Victor Hoskins and interim director Alex Iams were both poached by Fairfax County, while Christina Winn left for Prince William County.

In a press release, below, county officials tout Touhill’s “track record of leading local business expansions for new investments in the region” and his ability to foster “innovation and resiliency to advance economic growth and competitiveness.”

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz announced today the selection of Ryan Touhill as the new Director of Arlington Economic Development (AED) following a nationwide recruitment and search. Mr. Touhill has extensive experience in overseeing day-to day operations of a local economic development agency and a proven track record at implementing local small business grant and economic recovery programs, fostering regional cooperation, and playing key roles in business development attraction and retention in this local and regional market. He will play a pivotal role in building on Arlington’s strong economic competitive position as a regional, national, and international business and visitor location. Mr. Touhill will assume this new leadership role on November 28, 2022.

“Mr. Touhill has a track record of leading local business expansions for new investments in the region,” stated Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “My colleagues on the Board and I look forward to working with him to continue building on our success in attracting and growing high-quality businesses, both large and small, in Arlington.”

“I am thrilled to have Ryan at the helm of our Economic Development team, leading our community through an exciting period of commercial growth post-pandemic recovery”, stated County Manager Mark Schwartz. “He will be instrumental in fostering innovation and resiliency to advance economic growth and competitiveness in our community for small businesses and large corporations as well as foster real estate development, tourism, arts and cultural amenities.”

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Touhill served as both the Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP). In these leadership roles, he has been instrumental in managing the daily activities of AEDP’s Business Development, Small Business, and Economic Recovery departments and was responsible for managing AEDP’s internal business operations. While at AEDP, he also served on the project management team responsible for securing Amazon’s second headquarters in Northern Virginia and Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Alexandria. In addition, Mr. Touhill has held positions with the City of Alexandria government in the budget and human resources departments.

“Arlington is a dynamic and innovative community that has proven it can achieve smart, sustainable growth for businesses and residents alike,” shared Ryan Touhill. “I am excited about this opportunity to bring my passion of service to ensure that Arlington County is a top business destination.”

“Coming out of the pandemic, this is an ideal time to bring on a respected regional leader,” shared Mr. Jason El Koubi, President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. “I am confident that Mr. Touhill will continue to strengthen important collaborative partnerships with Arlington’s business community across the region and the Commonwealth. He will be a critical partner as we work together to strengthen our economic development capacity and accelerate the growth of tech startup companies and entrepreneurs.”

Touhill has been recognized for his service by the City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, and Virginia Business magazine. And, has previously served on the Board of Directors of ‘Rebuilding Together DC-Alexandria’ and as a youth mentor with ‘Space of His Own’. Touhill holds a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University and a Master of Public Administration from the George Washington University. He is an avid runner and hiker, often out enjoying Virginia’s trails in his spare time.

Touhill succeeds Shannon Flanagan-Watson who has been serving as the Interim Director for Economic Development while a national search was conducted.

About Arlington Economic Development

Arlington Economic Development (AED) is committed to helping Arlington thrive as an economically vital, competitive and sustainable community by providing leadership and services to Arlington’s business, real estate, tourism and cultural affairs sectors.

The AED team leads groundbreaking programs designed to attract and retain business in Arlington. And help businesses get the tools and resources needed to grow and succeed in our community.

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