During a Tuesday presentation to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the EDA’s 2012 victories and future challenges, Gordon noted that the authority’s number of prospects for FY2013 was down considerably from previous years.
In FY2012, the EDA had a record year, meeting with 391 companies or organizations that were considering a move or expansion and needed office space. Those 391 companies presented a total of 11,291 jobs.
Through February 2013, the EDA has 259 prospects with potential for 5,600 jobs—a slower pace than last year.
“This is a reflection of businesses inability to make decisions in an era of uncertainty, and it’s the uncertainty that is really hurting,” Gordon told Patch. “When we do our planning we think about numbers that are consistent with the previous year so I would necessarily expect 390 again, because as you can see that’s an all-time high, but 300, 350 would have been a reasonable expectation.”
But Gordon also presented a number of opportunities for economic growth, including information technologies and telecommunications, as well as personalized medicine, medical ethics and policy, and woman- and minority-owned businesses.
Gordon was also pleased to announce that the EDA signed 186 companies in 2012 for a total of 8,438 jobs.
He told supervisors the county needed to look out for growing competition from its neighbors, noting that the EDA is focusing more on retention.
“Over the years we’ve created not just a place we want attract people, but also a place in which we need to protect ourselves,” he said.
Supervisor Pat Herrity agreed that retention efforts were critical to the county’s continued prosperity.
“It’s all too easy to look at skipping over Fairfax County,” Herrity said. “So we need to keep the product strong.”
Gordon pointed out that sequestration’s effect on commercial real estate vacancy rates was still largely unknown.
“The year-end vacancy rate was a little high,” he said, noting that it was close to 17 percent.
“We managed to weather the recession fairly well,” he said. “But the one thing we can’t control is the federal government.”