While the District of columbia's new director of development waits for the city bureaucracy to find him a secretary and a staff, Fairfax County is giving a $560,000 shot-in-the-arm to its campaign to attract new business.
With a $275,000 annual budget, the Fairfax Economic Development Authority last year added the names American Telephone & Telegraph, Mobil Oil, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, and Boeing to the list of local businesses.
Now the county supervisors have given EDA an extra $88,600 to spend in the next five months, and have boosted the budget for the last half of the year by $266,000.
If EDA Director David Edwards and his nine-member staff produce the results they're promising, another $207,000 will be available next January. In round numbers, the county will spend $700,000 a year on industrial development programs in fiscal 1979, which starts in July.
Fairfax's stepped-up industrial development effort, says EDA Chairman Betti C. Goldwasser, is aimed at "the long-term goal of having 25 percent of its tax base made up of commercial and industrial development by the year 2000."
Today about 14.3 percent of the taxes are paid by business. Despite the county's success in attracting new firms, that percentage has been shrinking, because new residential growth is outstripping the business boom.
To reach its goal, Fairfax needs to have 27 major companies announce plans to move to the county by next January; after that the growth pace ought to be 36 major industries a year.
The county wants to move away from being just a bedroom community by boosting the share of its residents who work in the county from about one-third to one half. That will mean creating 73,000 new jobs by the end of the century.
Faced with those goals and a commitment to growth, county officials last month accepted EDA's request for more money. Next week Fairfax officials will detail their plans for shuffling the current year's budget to provide the funds necessary to intensify EDA's marketing and advertising efforts.
Marketing the county, EDA officials say in a report to the county supervisors, is just like selling anything else -- the more doors you knock on, the more pitches you make, the more contracts you sign.
Finding 100 bona fide business prospects for the county requires making between 1,500 and 2,000 contacts either in person or through advertising.
The $560,000 in additional development funds is supposed to generate those contacts. The county plans to prepare new promotional publications, hire a public relations professional to tell its story to business publications and to start an advertising campaign.
"For every dollar spent on economic development, a minimum of $20 to $25 returns to the county," EDA said in its successful pitch for more funds.
"This strategy is geared to moving the authority beyond the point of simply responding to business development proposals which come to us, but rather moving our program in the direction of aggressively seeking out business development opportunities," said EDA Chairman Goldwasser.
"In short, we have developed the kind of program Fairfax County should undertake if it wants to get serious about development," she said.
One reason Fairfax is moving so aggressively, is that competition for industry is increasing in the Washington area. Prince George's County probably has been the most agressive industrial recruiter to date. Montgomery County was an early leader in suburban development, then lost momentum and is now reorganizing its development efforst. Prince William County is also gearing up; even tiny Fairfax City has formed a volunteer industrial development committee.
The District of Columbia got into the act just before the new year by naming veteran Downtown Progress executive Knox Banner as its first director of business and economic development.
Compared with Fairfax County, the District of columbia's development goals are much more modest, and its pace is considerably less urgent.
Five weeks after he was hired Banner has yet to get a secretary, he said yesterday, and it will be at least summer time before he gets a staff.
The civil service system moves slowly, he added, and the job descriptions for the EDA's staff haven't even been written yet --although would-be staff members have already sent in resumes.
Banner said he is in the midst of "liaison meetings" with other district government officials, and in the coming weeks will be "touching base" with city council members to talk about the city's needs.
"We are beginning to look at neighborhood and other shopping needs and see what we can do." he said, about developing commercial areas in Northeast and Anacostia.
As yet, the district has no targets for development, no goals in jobs or tax dollars and no staff or plan for developing those goals, let alone achieving them.
And in contrast to Fairfax's $700,000-a-year investment in development, the district government has yet to commit a dime of its own money. A federal grant is financing Banner's office.