In the Board chair’s annual State of the County address, Tejada touted Arlington as a “coveted area” that people want to live and work in. However, citing the planned departure of the National Science Foundation and its 2,200+ jobs to Alexandria, and the county’s 17 percent (and rising) office vacancy rate, Tejada said the county must work to “reinvent” itself.
“Arlington is facing some economic uncertainty,” he said. “One of the worst things… is to be complacent. It’s time to reinvent ourselves once again. An important strategy of our reinvention is our focus on science and technology.”
To that end, Tejada said the county will continue to fight to keep the NSF in Ballston.
“We are profoundly disappointed, but I believe the last word has not been written on this,” he said. “We still believe Arlington is the best home for the National Science Foundation, and we hope that it stays. We will work diligently to make sure that happens.”
“It just doesn’t make sense,” he continued. “Undoing a science cluster that the federal government itself has spent two decades and quite a lot of taxpayer money building? We believe this decision needs closer scrutiny. How much are Alexandria taxpayers paying for this deal?”
“Arlington has become a hotbed of startup technology companies,” he said. Emphasizing private sector commercial growth is important, he said, since the biggest office tenant in Arlington, the federal government, has become “unpredictable at best.”
Also part of Arlington’s “reinvention” is the controversial Columbia Pike streetcar system.
“The streetcar is our best transit option for Columbia Pike,” Tejada said. “The streetcar will create that main street feel that the community wants. It will reduce pollution and congestion. And yes, it is affordable in the long term. The Pike streetcar system is equal to the cost of one Metrorail station.”
The streetcar will be funded via a commercial property tax surcharge that’s earmarked for transportation projects. The financing would not qualify for a voter referendum under state law, Tejada said, and “the plan is well within the county’s self-imposed debt limit.”
Tejada said he would not have supported the streetcar had the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan not called for the preservation of affordable housing. He called on the business leaders in the room to contribute to the affordable housing effort on the Pike.
AWLA Wins ‘Best in Shelter’ Contest — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will receive $50,000 in prize money after one of its dogs won the “Best in Shelter” contest. Gaston, a four-year-old American Bulldog mix, received the most votes in the contest, which was sponsored by author Martha Grimes. “The prize money will help us do even more for all the homeless animals that come into our shelter, including vaccines, medications, surgeries, and enrichment,” said AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent. Gaston was propelled to victory, at least in part, thanks to a music video produced by AWLA supporters.
Leonsis to Address Ballston BID — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will be the keynote speaker at the first annual meeting of the new Ballston Business Improvement District this evening. Leonsis is expected to talk about “entrepreneurship and the future of Ballston” at the meeting, which is being held from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westin Arlington Gateway (801 N. Glebe Road). The meeting is open to local residents but attendees are asked to RSVP in advance. [Ballston BID]
Officer’s Donation Noted at Shirlington Library — When Lt. Col. James R. Mailler died in 2011, he left a donation to one of his favorite places — the Shirlington Branch Library. Now Lt. Col. Mailler’s donation is being recognized with a plaque near the newspapers, where he used to spend much of his time. [Library Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
President Obama spoke at OPOWER, a small energy efficiency business based in Courthouse, just before noon today.
A helicopter hovered overhead as roads around Courthouse were shut down for the president’s motorcade.
The president spoke for ten minutes about clean energy jobs. He also addressed new unemployment figures that revealed the loss of an additional 36,000 jobs in February.
“Even though it’s better than expected, it’s more than we should tolerate,” Mister Obama said of the job losses.
The president also took a tour of the OPOWER offices, greeting employees and cracking jokes. From the White House Pool Report:
Obama took a tour of the smallish office, stopping by each row of 12 two-computer rows to talk to employees, asking what they did. He joked a lot about the youth of the workforce. “Is there anybody over 30 who works here?” Obama asked, prompting laughs.
Here’s some background on OPOWER, which the president praised as “a model of what we want to be seeing all across the country.” The information is provided by the company.
OPOWER is a 75-person Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency software company that partners with utilities to help people use less energy by giving them better information.
OPOWER delivers its services to two million households and works with six of the ten largest utilities in the country and twenty-five utilities overall.
OPOWER is projected to save existing customers more than $250 million over the next three years. If the OPOWER model were deployed nationwide, it would save enough energy to power 3 million homes.
OPOWER grew from 30-60 people in 2009, and expects to add 100 new people in 2010.
The Administration’s focus and commitment on the creation of a clean energy economy – including the Recovery Act – has directly and indirectly supported OPOWER’s growth.
OPOWER’s corporate headquarters is located at 1515 N. Courthouse Road.
A transcript of the president’s speech, after the jump.