Criticized economic development official leaving Loudoun job

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Loudoun County's economic development director announced his resignation Monday amid growing criticism from business leaders and county officials over his steadfast emphasis on rural quality-of-life issues over corporate relocations.

Lawrence S. Rosenstrauch, the county's chief economic adviser for 13 years, said he will leave the agency Dec. 4. He came to Loudoun in 1996 from Charlotte, where he had served for eight years in the same role.

Rosenstrauch, 61, said that the county's incoming administrator, Tim Hemstreet, needed a "fresh start" with a new economic development leader. Hemstreet, 41, most recently an assistant city manager for Miami Beach, was hired by the county as its administrator in October after a six-month nationwide search. He will start Dec. 7.

Rosenstrauch said he planned to "find another great challenge helping communities achieve the kind of prosperity and success they want."

"It's always good to know when it's the right time to get off the stage," he said.

Loudoun officials and business leaders had grown increasingly unhappy with Rosenstrauch's performance, questioning whether he was focusing too much of his efforts on rural issues, like local food initiatives and wineries, and not enough on getting businesses to fill Loudoun's excess office space.

While praising Rosenstrauch's service, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard said the county now has the opportunity to be "more competitive in the battle to attract new business investment."

"As the national economy shows signs of recovery, Loudoun needs an aggressive approach to expand the commercial tax base that is necessary to fund the services that our residents and businesses demand," he said.

During Rosenstrauch's tenure, Loudoun experienced lightning-fast growth and 77,000 new jobs were created, but with the downturn growth has ebbed.

Interim County Administrator Linda A. Neri will oversee the economic development office until a replacement is found.

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