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D.C., Suburban Economies
Called Inextricably Linked

Full Text of Study
By Peter Behr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, Dec. 13, 1996; Page D03

A modest revival of the District's economy would spill over into the suburbs, producing more than $2 billion in additional income in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland over the next six years, according to an analysis by George Mason University professor Stephen S. Fuller.

Fuller's report, which is based on a complex computer model of the Washington area economy, shows that the fortunes of the District and its suburbs are inextricably linked, he said. For each $1 of additional economic activity in the District, the suburbs pick up more than $1.50 in new growth, the model found.

"The reason the suburbs should pay attention to the health of the central city is because they have an important stake in it. Their economic health is tied to the District," Fuller said in a report yesterday to the DC Agenda, a civic group that is seeking solutions to the District's fiscal and operational crises.

The linkages between the District and suburbs are obvious, although many suburban residents don't recognize or acknowledge them, he said. Two-thirds of the people who work in the District live in the suburbs, he noted. Thus, while the District has borne the brunt of federal work force reductions over the past three years, the fallout extends throughout the metropolitan area.

When the growth of tourists visits to the nation's capital slows down, as it has in recent years, the suburbs suffer too, Fuller said. Two-thirds of the retail spending by tourists occurs in the suburbs, surveys indicate.

The George Mason computer model of the regional economy, which is based on detailed historical growth patterns in the District and surrounding counties, projects little if any economic expansion in the District from 1996 to 2002, Fuller said.

But if the District's strongest service sectors -- including retailing, business and financial services and communications -- were to grow just a bit faster in that period, the dividends for the suburbs would be significant because of the region's interconnections, according to the computer projections, Fuller said.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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