Arlington County ranked number one among similar-sized counties in this year’s Fourth Economy Index, which recognized it for attracting talented people, supporting business growth and creating vibrancy.
The index, which was established in 2012, assesses counties in five areas: investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity. Arlington won for counties with 150,000-499,999 people, ahead of Chesapeake in Virginia (near Norfolk) and Shawnee County in Kansas (which includes the city of Topeka).
“A vibrant business community, lots of arts and entertainment and low unemployment all contribute to a higher quality of life for this No. 1 community,” the citation reads.
Arlington came in first because of its high scores in place, talent and diversity. The index said Arlington’s location across the river from D.C. makes it a perfect location for people who work there, while its seamless blend of urban areas and quiet, garden-lined streets, provide a fine balance between city life and “neighborhood charm.”
In addition, the index said Arlington’s talent base is high thanks to its many highly-educated residents while its diversity spreads across race, age and ethnicity. It also found that middle-income Arlingtonians spend less on transportation and housing than their national counterparts in most other counties.
“While job growth and investment are good indicators of a community’s progress, they are not enough,” the website reads. “Our continued experience has shown that our analysis must also look at factors that create a foundation for sustained success and resilience.”
The full top 10 for large-sized counties is as follows:
- Arlington County, Virginia
- Chesapeake, Virginia
- Shawnee County, Kansas
- Chittenden County, Vermont
- Pulaski County, Arkansas
- Albany County, New York
- Hampden County, Massachusetts
- Minnehaha County, South Dakota
- Peoria County, Illinois
- Champaign County, Illinois
To analyze counties, the index used data from the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development among other sources. A total of 19 data areas are weighted and analyzed for the level of influence they have on a county.
A new study has found that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Arlington have nearly doubled their impact on county coffers in the last five years.
The national study, “Arts and Economic Prosperity 5” by Americans for the Arts, found that nonprofit arts generate $189.2 million each year in Arlington and supports more than 5,000 full-time jobs. It also generates $13.9 million in tax revenues each year for state and local governments, the study found.
Of that, Arlington County receives approximately $7.5 million a year, up from $3.9 million in tax revenue recorded five years ago, when the last study was completed.
“Arlington has a vibrant arts ecosystem of 127 nonprofit arts and culture organizations that range from amateur theater to WETA, which is one of the largest producers of content for PBS, which is also headquartered in Arlington,” Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in a statement. “These numbers reflect the breadth and impact of that ecosystem.”
The study documented the economic contributions of the arts in 341 counties and regions across the country, including Arlington County. Only nonprofit organizations were studied, so calculations from for-profit organizations such as movie theaters or commercial concert venues were not included.
Some other notable local statistics from the study:
- Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations provide 5,156 full-time jobs in Arlington
- $118.6 million dollars of household income is produced annually
- $170 million is spent annually to keep the organizations running
- Audience members spend over $18 million each year on amenities such as lodging, child care, meals and transportation
“Not only do these non-profit organizations entertain residents with stellar performances, cultural events and heritage festivals, but they also generate $7.512 million in revenue for the county government,” said Janet Kopenhaver, chair of advocacy group Embracing Arlington Arts. “This translates into an economic powerhouse industry for our county and its residents.”
There are over 50 locally-focused art groups in Arlington County along with hundreds of independent visual artists, whose genres range from performing to media arts. In combination with heritage groups the represent countries such as Vietnam and Bolivia, over 4,000 programs are conducted annually that reach almost 600,000 people, according to the county.
President Trump’s first budget proposal and its ramped-up defense spending could help Arlington’s economy, according to experts, but local lawmakers worry that cuts elsewhere in the federal government could hurt.
Trump’s budget blueprint for fiscal 2018, entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” calls for $54 billion in additional defense spending.
The budget plan would cut federal funding to a swath of programs to help offset the increased defense spending, including a number that help lower-income residents.
That would likely mean a spending boon at the Pentagon, which has approximately 25,000 military and civilian occupants daily.
In addition, defense contractors based in the county could see more work go their way, as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an Arlington-based Department of Defense agency.
Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, added that DARPA work can be just as lucrative. DARPA “often subcontracts up to $7 for every dollar spent in house,” Shafroth said.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said the effects of decreased defense spending under President Obama, the result of the federal budget sequester, must be tackled but not in this way.
“We should be serious about addressing the fiscal issues in our country and work together to address the impact that the across-the-board spending cuts have had on the military and our national security,” Warner said in a statement. “However, the roadmap the President has laid out does not meet those goals.”
Of concern in Arlington is reduced spending on the State Department, which operates three D.C.-area field offices in Arlington. Trump’s plan would cut $10.1 billion from State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That cut could force the closure or downsizing of those field offices, which handle security and investigations among other roles.
“Budgets show us a President’s priorities, and based on what President Trump released today, I’m concerned that he’s continuing to push policies that would hurt Virginians,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement last week. “While I support the Administration’s commitment to investments in defense, deep cuts to the State Department jeopardize our national security.”
“President Trump wants to spend more on defense and border security while making huge cuts to what they defend: our people, our health, and our environment,” he said. “These extreme cuts will hit my constituents particularly hard, including many federal workers at the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency. But their pain will be felt across the entire country.”
Any gains on the defense side may be offset by losses elsewhere, as Trump’s budget plan seeks to shrink the federal workforce. With a hiring freeze already in place, further cuts could be coming.
Analysis by the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at GMU found that Northern Virginia could lose as many as 3,600 federal jobs, under the assumption that between 5.4 and 6.6 percent of all federal jobs in the region are lost.
And the analysis found that any gains in DoD and other departments may not be enough to lessen the impact of losses elsewhere.
Despite others’ gloomy predictions, Shafroth said he is optimistic that Arlington can weather any storms, given how central it is in defense spending.
“On net, especially given the serious situation with North Korea, I believe there will be major job disruption, but, at the end of the day the county’s critical role in national defense and the very large increase in federal spending will lead to disruption, but close to a net overall wash,” he said.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Michael Coffman
Police Search for Missing Boy — Updated — Arlington County Police were looking for a missing 13-year-old boy who may have run away from home yesterday evening. The boy took his bike and possibly camping gear, according to police and to scanner traffic. Police say the boy has since been “located in good health.” [Arlington County]
Carpool to Close, Move — The end is near for Carpool, the popular Ballston bar has kept on ticking despite originally being slated to close this past summer to make way for a redevelopment. Management reportedly plans to move Carpool to the Fair Lakes area of Fairfax County this summer. [Washington Business Journal]
Rep. Beyer’s Hat Get Noticed — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) wore a red “Keep the EPA Great” hat to a Congressional hearing about the agency on Tuesday, and the internet loved it. [Gizmodo]
Kudos for Ashlawn Crossing Guard — Ashlawn Elementary School crossing guard Ana Hernandez has been recognized as one of Virginia’s “Most Outstanding Crossing Guards.” Hernandez works “patiently but firmly to ensure the safety of students,” according to a press release. [Arlington Public Schools]
Optimism for N. Va. Economy — “The Northern Virginia region could see job employment grow from anywhere between 4 to 14.4 percent from 2014 to 2025,” according to forecasts from George Mason University’s Stephen Fuller. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Tourism Spending Record in Arlington — Visitors to Arlington spent about $3.1 billion in 2015, a new record. That’s up 3 percent compared to 2014. The tourism spending generated $86 million in county tax revenue and $115 million in state tax revenue. [Arlington County]
New ART 92 Schedule Starts Today — A more frequent ART 92 bus schedule starts today, with buses running every 15 minutes during peak times. ART 92 runs from Crystal City to Long Bridge Park to the Pentagon. [Arlington Transit]
Cesar Millan in Crystal City — ‘Dog Whisperer’ star Cesar Millan was spotted walking the streets of Crystal City on Sunday. Millan was in town filming a new show, Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation, which will air on the Nat Geo Wild channel. [Patch, Twitter]
Arlington ’40 Under 40′ Honorees — The Leadership Center for Excellence has announced this year’s Arlington “40 Under 40” honorees. The 40 Under 40 luncheon will be held Dec. 2. [InsideNova]
Photos from Weekend Events — Pleasant late-summer temperatures helped drive big turnouts at Clarendon Day and Pups and Pilsners this weekend. Meanwhile, ARLnow’s Fall Beer Mega Tasting Event at Arrowine drew a (relatively) big crowd as well.
Flickr pool photo by Angela Pan
Arlington County just released its 2016 Profile, which includes vital statistics like population, employment and demographics.
According to the county, Arlington’s estimated population on Jan. 1, 2016 was 220,400, up from 216,700 on Jan. 1, 2015 and up 6.1 percent compared to 2010.
Arlington’s population is projected to reach 283,000 by 2040. That projection is unchanged from last year.
The number of jobs in Arlington County, meanwhile, declined over the past year.
There were 211,000 employees working in Arlington on Jan. 1, compared to 221,700 in 2015. Much of that can be attributed to a shrinking government workforce in Arlington — 23 percent of the jobs in Arlington were government employees on Jan. 1, compared to 24.2 percent of the labor force last year. That’s a loss of more than 5,100 government jobs.
Still, the projected number of jobs in Arlington in 2040 remains steady at just over 300,000. The profile presents a picture of a county that remains a major employment center and a sought-after place to live.
“Arlington has more private office space than the downtowns of Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver,
Seattle, or Atlanta,” it says. “Arlington continues to grow with the addition of new development. In 2015,
2,161 residential units were completed.”
Photo courtesy James Mahony
The move comes amid a wave of layoffs among tech companies that are struggling to attain or maintain profitability as tech investment euphoria cools. Across the economy, there’s weakness in the employment market and in corporate profits.
“We’ve reduced a small number of roles — about 45, including about 25 in our U.S. offices,” Opower Vice President of Communications Matt Maurer said this morning in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. “It’s part of an effort to cut back on our overall spend in sales and marketing and R&D.”
“These moves give us a better expense profile and strengthen the very good position we are already in as the clear leader in our space, having recently renewed our largest clients to multi-year extensions and with over $480 million in contracted future revenue on the books,” Maurer continued. “These strong fundamentals — combined with our new and growing set of customer care products — put Opower in a great position for continued success.”
Opower had about 600 employees worldwide before the layoffs, which were announced to employees last week.
The company is planning to move from its long-time offices in Courthouse to a new yet-to-be-built headquarters down the street, at 2311 Wilson Blvd, in about two years. Opower received a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to entice the company to stay in Virginia.
Opower, which creates energy efficiency technology for utility companies, is publicly traded under the ticker symbol OPWR. As of 11:15 a.m. it was trading at $7.30 per share. The company reported a $13.6 million loss in its most recent quarterly results.
Taxi Driver Fights Arlington Cemetery Tickets — A taxi driver is scheduled to appear in federal court later this month to appeal three misdemeanor traffic convictions. U.S. Park Police have been repeatedly ticketing Yahia Fayed for idling outside of Arlington National Cemetery, where he says there’s a steady stream of people looking for a cab. Federal officials say that’s not allowed. So far, no militiamen have threatened to protest federal government tyranny on Fayed’s behalf. [Washington Post]
Scary CO Incident at Gym Near Fairlington — Arlington County firefighters and medics were among those who responded to the XSport Fitness gym on King Street, across from Fairlington, on Saturday for a carbon monoxide incident. Witnesses said people all of a sudden started collapsing on their treadmills. Seven were hospitalized. A malfunctioning pool heater was found to be the cause. [Fox 5 DC]
Arlington Ready to Enforce Snow Removal Ordinance — Should snow ever fall this winter, Arlington County is ready to enforce its five-year-old snow removal ordinance. Last season, 25 citations were issued for snow removal violations. [InsideNova]
Lidl HQ Close to Opening — The new U.S. headquarters for German grocery giant Lidl is getting ready to open near Potomac Yard. The company also just purchased land near Richmond for one of its first stores in Virginia. [Virginia Business]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Shortest Day of the Year — Today is the shortest day of the year. The sun will be up just 9 hours and 26 minutes today, so enjoy the daylight while it lasts. Tonight is the winter solstice. [Capital Weather Gang]
Two Big Crystal City Projects on Hold — Two projects to replace aging office buildings in Crystal City are on hold due to high office vacancy in the region. Vornado was planning to replace 1851 S. Bell Street with what would have been the tallest building in Crystal City and the largest private office building in Arlington. The company was also planning to replace 223 23rd Street S. with an office and a residential tower. Those have both reportedly been shelved due to market conditions. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Play Cornhole With Bar Crawlers — Nearly 2,000 people flocked to Clarendon on Saturday for the inaugural Candy Cane Crawl, a holiday-themed bar crawl. Arlington County Police used the occasion to educate bar-goers about the dangers of drunk driving, by having people try to play cornhole while wearing “drunk goggles.” [WUSA 9]
Mary Slye Obituary — Mary Patricia Slye, who managed Robert Slye Electronics on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, died last month of a heart attack at the age of 65. Slye was an Arlington resident and began working at the audio visual installation business in the mid-1980s. [Washington Post]
Vehicle Topples Light Pole on Washington Blvd — A vehicle struck a light pole near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive on Saturday, sending it toppling across the street. Luckily, no one was hurt. Eastbound traffic on Washington Blvd was blocked for about 15 minutes. [Twitter]
GMU Grad Hopes to Run for Arlington School Board — A newly-minted George Mason University grad has a specific and somewhat uncommon career goal for someone her age: Marlayna Bush says she wants to run for the Arlington School Board in 2018. She just received her BA in conflict analysis and resolution. [George Mason University]
This week, the Census Bureau released its 2014 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, which looks at poverty and income in counties and states. In Virginia, independent cities were included as “counties.”
The top three richest counties in the country, according to the data, are all in the D.C. area: Falls Church, Loudoun County and Fairfax County.
Arlington ranked behind two western counties: Los Alamos, New Mexico, home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the economic powerhouse Denver suburb of Douglas County, Colorado.
In 2013, Arlington ranked No. 7 on the Census Bureau’s median income list, at $99,255 compared to $107,143 this year.
The top twenty localities on the list, by median income, are:
- Falls Church, VA ($125,635)
- Loudoun County, VA ($122,641)
- Fairfax County, VA ($110,507)
- Los Alamos County, NM ($108,477)
- Douglas County, CO ($107,250)
- Arlington County, VA ($107,143)
- Howard County, MD ($106,871)
- Hunterdon County, NJ ($103,876)
- San Mateo County, CA ($100,806)
- Morris County, NJ ($100,511)
- Somerset County, NJ ($100,194)
- Nassau County, NY ($98,312)
- Williamson County, TN ($97,936)
- Delaware County, OH ($97,802)
- Montgomery County, MD ($97,279)
- Santa Clara County, CA ($97,219)
- Marin County, CA ($94,549)
- Putnam County, NY ($94,334)
- Fairfax city, VA ($94,067)
- Stafford County, VA ($92,647)
Arlington Inmate Dies — A 48-year-old convict died early Saturday morning in the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. The man, who had a “history of medical issues,” was found unresponsive in his cell and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. [Arlington County]
More Sequestration Could Hit Virginia Hard — Virginia, and in particular Northern Virginia, is bracing for more sequestration cuts to the Defense Department, which are set to take effect in five weeks. Virginia’s two U.S. Senators are pushing for new budget legislation to replace the sequester. [Washington Post]
Cemetery Superintendent Removed — One year after taking the position, Arlington National Cemetery superintendent Jack E. Lechner has been given the boot. The Army says Lechner’s job performance was unsatisfactory. [Washington Post]
DAK Chicken Opens in Shirlington — DAK Chicken, a Korean-style chicken restaurant, welcomed customers on Friday for its soft opening. In addition to chicken wings the new Shirlington eatery offers other Korean and Asian-fusion dishes like kimchi, bulgogi and ramen. [Northern Virginia Magazine, Facebook]
Arlington Company Makes Fortune List — Courthouse-based Opower has made Fortune Magazine’s inaugural “Change The World” list. Opower is ranked No. 45 on the list of 51 companies “that have made a sizable impact on major global social or environmental problems as part of their competitive strategy.” How long Opower remains in Arlington remains a question: the company is currently considering a move to the District. [Fortune]
Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette. It originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly Arlington business e-newsletter. You can subscribe to ARLbiz here.
On New Year’s Day, I announced that my focus this year as Arlington County Board Chairman will be on sustainability – the ability to prosper through change. A key element of that focus for me will be laying the groundwork for Arlington to become a hub for the innovation economy.
Everything we do should be judged by how it advances our goal of building a community that will sustain Arlingtonians for generations to come. We have such a strong foundation on which to build.
When I moved to Arlington in 1983 — 31 years ago — it was a somewhat sleepy place with an uncertain future. Arlington had made the commitment to transit as our prime engine of redevelopment but we were not sure how far it could take us. Today, 40 percent of all transit trips in the state — in the entire state — begin or end in Arlington. After years of persistence, patience and sound investment, the unprecedented prosperity that has resulted is clear.
Today, other localities are learning from us and making smarter planning decisions themselves. We face a rapidly changing economy and increased competition as the Silver Line brings rail transit to Tyson’s and beyond and DC creates new office markets. To tackle these challenges, the County Manager, accompanied by Board Members, went on a listening tour in the business community. What we heard on that tour helped me formulate my action plan. Owners of businesses both small and large love this community and value the business opportunities here, but we heard thoughtful suggestions from them on how we can make Arlington an even better place to do business.
We know that Arlington has amazing assets that will continue to be a fundamental part of our economic strength. Our location is not going to change. National Airport and the Pentagon are not going anywhere. Our outstanding transportation system, smart growth policies and great schools will be protected and enhanced. Did you know that today’s Arlington has the nation’s highest concentration of 25 to 34-year-olds — and is the home of the region’s “creative class?”
In the coming months, as part of my six-point plan, we will be presenting ideas for accelerating the growth of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor’s science, technology, art, research and education eco-system; strengthening communications and partnerships between County government, businesses, entrepreneurs and residents; updating our Retail Action Plan; and strategically marketing Arlington to businesses and developers nationally.
These initiatives will help ensure that Arlington is a leader in the innovation economy — the 21st-century economy of flexible, creative enterprises and high-tech products and services.
You can read my entire January 1 speech on the County website.
It is an ambitious agenda — but this is an ambitious community. We lean forward and are good at turning challenges into opportunities. Arlington’s future is bright. Together, we will continue to build a community that is a model of sustainability, diversity and civic engagement – a place that other communities look to for inspiration.
Chairman, Arlington County Board
The pages of Craigslist are filled with budding young professionals who, unable to afford their own Metro-accessible apartments in high-rent Arlington, instead search for roommates and shared housing. In the past few years, a growing number of young businesses have been taking a similar approach to office space in Arlington: cheaper rent, good location and good company.
Five coworking offices have moved into Arlington in the past two years: UberOffices in Rosslyn, Carr Workplaces in Rosslyn and Clarendon, Link Locale in Clarendon and, most recently, The Ground Floor in Rosslyn in the same building as UberOffices.
The spaces offer relatively cheap rent in one of the country’s most expensive commercial real estate markets, and the flexibility to grow. Technology startups in Arlington and around the county have flocked to the business incubator-style setting, with in-house services, conference rooms and amenities usually reserved for large companies.
The spaces provide support in the form of kitchen space, conference rooms, and a variety of amenities. UberOffices, for instance, has video games and a foosball table. The Ground Floor, which opened this month, has a dedicated space for events.
“This concept has been around for a long time,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Rich Doud said. “It just hadn’t caught on, but I think the future will kind of force situations like this.”
Josh Newsome and Kaitlyn Walthall are a two-person team for Collins Engineering. They moved into UberOffices in January from a workspace in Tysons Corner. The Ballston residents said the search for a place with their requirements “two desks and high-speed Internet” was surprisingly difficult.
“There are only two of us,” Walthall said. “This is the only way to work together that’s not in a coffee shop.”
‘Luxury’ Apartment Rent Falling in Arlington — Rents for Class A apartments in Arlington and Alexandria fell 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, “a clear sign that the supply of new apartments is catching up to demand.” The average Class A rent in Arlington and Alexandria is $1,973 a month. [UrbanTurf]
Kroger Buys Harris Teeter — Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger has purchased Harris Teeter. So far, the company is not planning any significant changes for Harris Teeter stores, which will retain their branding and management. [Washington Post]
Still No Tenants for Rosslyn Skyscraper — The new 35-story office building at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn — now the D.C. area’s tallest building other than the Washington Monument — is set to open in October. However, the building, which was built “on spec” by owner Monday Properties, could open without a single tenant. [WJLA]
All-American Honors for DJO Softball Stars — Bishop O’Connell softball stars (and recent graduates) Tori Finucane and Jillian Ferraro have been chosen as All-Americans by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Fairfax May Be ‘Big Winner’ From Streetcar — The Columbia Pike streetcar may be an economic boon to Fairfax County. Fairfax is planning to use its portion of the future streetcar system to lure office tenants to the Skyline and Baileys Crossroads areas. Already, promise of the streetcar might be helping to sway the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move to Skyline from Ballston. [Sun Gazette]
Office Absorption Down as Sequester Takes Hold — The D.C. region, particularly Northern Virginia, is shedding office tenants. The region typically “absorbs” about 900,000 square feet of office space per quarter, but posted a negative 100,000 square foot absorption figure between April and June. Tenant downsizing and federal job losses and budget cuts are being blamed for the poor absorption figures. [Globe St]
Brink Unopposed in Upcoming Election — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) is running unopposed for reelection in November, after the Libertarian candidate he was set to face dropped out of the race. Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rob Krupicka, all Democrats, area facing a Libertarian, an Independent Green and and independent candidate, respectively. So far, no Republican challengers have been announced. [Sun Gazette]
Library Seeking LEGO Artists — Arlington Public Library is seeking LEGO builders ages 18 and under to help design and build LEGO structures for display at a library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann