"There seem to be a lot of motorcars there," said the British businessman, as a tour bus of visiting corporate executives rolled past the parking lot of yet another office park near Reston yesterday.
"I'm sure in this area you have to have a car," came the delicately understated official response, during an otherwise upbeat selling of the Washington metropolitan area by local governments and the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
The two-day wooing of about two dozen executives from this country and Europe is expected to cost "well over $100,000 in expenses and donated services," a Board of Trade official said.
Yesterday was Northern Virginia's and Gov. Charles S. Robb's day, to be followed today by tours of the District and suburban Maryland and speeches by Gov. Harry Hughes and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.
The names of the executives and their companies were not released. A board spokesman said this was to avoid leaking word to any hometowns, "which might not appreciate it" if a local company is planning to move. Officials said the tours--there have been three in the past six years--have resulted in at least 18 businesses moving to this area or expanding their operations.
The board said the types of concerns represented by the visiting executives included associations, light manufacturing, technology consulting, architecture and engineering.
After lunching at downtown Washington's International Club, the executives boarded two waiting buses for a quick, police-escorted tour down congested K Street NW, which Lawrence P. Schumake III, director of the D.C. Office of Business and Economic Development, described as "known for its restaurants and new developments."
As the bus zoomed out toward Dulles International Airport, a Loudoun County development official praised Middleburg, "the home of Arthur Godfrey," where President and Nancy Reagan stayed briefly. "And also for a short while--Elizabeth Taylor." No explanation needed.
At Tysons Corner, the executives were whisked into the headquarters of BDM, a firm that does a lot of high-tech defense work. Inside, a group of Virginia business executives told the visitors how happy they were to be in a "pro-business" and "right-to-work" state.