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Dulles, Clearly On Tech's Radar

Loudoun also kicked in $100,000 and the state $175,000 to help build an aircraft maintenance hangar that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority would lease to Atlantic Coast Airlines -- now Flyi Inc., parent of Dulles-based low-cost carrier Independence Air.

"We are not a rich county," said Lawrence S. Rosenstrauch, director of Loudoun's economic development department. "But, looking back, I think: Wow, one door opened a bunch. Had we not kept them, we may not have had this low-cost airline company" in Loudoun. Independence has been struggling financially since its inception in June, but it accounts for 300 of Dulles's 700 daily domestic departures.

Charles and Steve Kuhn moved JK Moving & Storage Inc. to Loudoun County in search of more space. (Len Spoden For The Washington Post)

Building a Hub for Business Dulles corridor proves a convenient home for government contractors.
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Office Buildings, Hotels Spur New Growth (The Washington Post, Dec 13, 2004)
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All told, about 21 million passengers boarded flights at Dulles over the past year, compared with 16 million at Reagan National Airport, which until 1999 was the region's dominant airport. The Dulles passenger count has almost doubled since 1994, and it has increased six times since 1984 and eight times since 1974 -- an era when then-WMAL radio personalities Harden and Weaver dubbed the airport "Doolies Landing Strip."

In this instant-messaging world, where fast delivery of goods and services is not only expected but taken for granted, Dulles has become a powerful tool for attracting companies, large and small, to Northern Virginia.

"Companies are moving into the area and saying, 'Where do I want to set up shop?' " said James E. Bennett, chief executive of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, an interstate agency that operates Dulles and Reagan National under a federal lease. "And they look around and say, 'Hmmmmm. Dulles Airport. From there, my customers and my employees will be able to travel anywhere in the world.' "

Corridor residents, including defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. and tableware designer and marketer Fortessa Inc., can choose from 700 daily departures to 75 cities in the United States and more than 350 weekly flights to 35 cities abroad.

"The convenience factor was very important to us in choosing this location," said John Murray, communications director of Vastera Inc., a global trade firm based on the Dulles Airport property. With offices in 14 countries and clients visiting from as far away as New Zealand "being at Dulles saves us time and money," Murray said. "We log about 3,000 flights a year in and out of Dulles and we can walk and pull our luggage into the terminal. We don't even have to pay for parking."

An International Magnet

The ramp-up in overseas service from Washington Dulles has been rapid. "In 1982, there were about 10 international flights a week from Dulles," said Schefer, the Washington Airports Task Force president. This summer's peak-season schedule out of Dulles included 59 nonstops a week to London, 28 to Frankfurt, 21 to Paris, 14 to Amsterdam, 14 to San Juan and 13 to San Salvador, according to airports authority data.

"And there's a daily nonstop to Milan," said Stephen C. Moss, president of AgustaWestland Inc., a helicopter manufacturer based in Milan, London and, beginning next month, the Dulles corridor.

Moss said his company was fast running out of room at its 18,000-square-foot U.S. headquarters in Crystal City, not far from Reagan National.

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