Virginia Gov. Charles S. Robb and Northern Virginia business and government leaders are launching a new industrial development campaign proclaiming Fairfax County "the high technology capital of the East."
The drive to attract new business to Washington's Virginia suburbs begins tomorrow when the state and the Fairfax County Economic Develoment Authority are hosts for a breakfast for media and business officials here to discuss the county's claim.
In an interview, Robb said his administration is working to upgrade technology-oriented educational programs in an effort to attract computer and other high-tech companies to the entire state.
But the emphasis of the meeting tomorrow is on Northern Virginia. "Fairfax County has taken a leading role in moving Virginia into the technology age, and it has demonstrated an imaginative approach toward making technology the focus of economic development," Robb says in remarks prepared for delivery tomorrow.
To back up the assertion that the county is the East's leader in technology, the county says it has at least 424 high-technology firms employing 32,000 people. Robb cites statistics showing that the metropolitan Washington area has more scientists and engineers as a percentage of population than metropolitan Boston.
Although he opposes most direct tax breaks to lure businesses to Virginia, Robb has set up task forces to study the state's higher education system with an eye toward producing more scientists and engineers from state universities.
"We haven't been preparing people for the job market," he said, citing three-year old figures for the entire South that show that the region produced 7,000 physical education majors and only 300 mathematics teachers. "We are doing everything we can to identify and upgrade advanced degree programs," he added.
Robb's two-day swing through New York City also features an address to 400 executives and state officials in which he emphasized the same theme -- Virginia's high-technology success and his efforts to get the state's higher education system to supply the manpower to fuel it.
Calling creativity in business as "admirable as genius in art," Robb made an impassioned pitch for his state, touting Virginia's business environment and pledging to upgrade the state's higher education system.
Robb also told a luncheon meeting put on by the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce that he is committed to shrinking the size of state government and cutting state regulation of business.