After a year of work, countless meetings, and reams of research, the Nighttime Economy Ad Hoc Committee has presented its recommendations for bringing the Loudoun lifestyle into the future.
Despite the name, the committee’s work has spanned far beyond nightlife. The recommendations reach from entertainment, to transportation, to housing affordability, to public safety, and taken together form a framework for future county policies.
The committee’s co-chairmen, B.F. Saul Company Vice President Todd Pearson and Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Howard, see their committee’s work as essential to Loudoun’s economy.
“To compete for the talent and the community investment, Loudoun must develop vibrant, walkable communities,” Pearson told the county finance committee. “If you want to attract investment, you have to first attract their workforce.”
The committee, a subcommittee of the Economic Development Advisory Commission, envisions urban, walkable, transit-serviced communities where people can live, work, and play without needing to get in a car. Pearson and Howard highlight several recommendations in their report, including allowing projects flexibility to adapt to market conditions, prioritizing housing diversity and affordability, and focusing on public spaces and public safety in the county’s growth plans. The committee’s work contemplates how to create those urban spaces maintaining what Howard called a “uniquely Loudoun” environment.
“First and foremost, I believe this is a workforce issue,” said finance committee vice chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “If we want to attract the type of educated, technology-driven workforce that we need in this county, keep them, and retain them, then we need to create the right entertainment and nightlife environment here in the county. It’s so necessary.”
Despite twice postponing a public input session due to weather, the committee’s public unveiling of their work in March was well-attended, and an online survey gathered more than a thousand responses. The committee took the public comment at that meeting and shaped its final recommendations.
The finance committee recommended the full board adopt NEAC’s report and forward it to the Transportation and Land Use committee, which will look at what’s needed to put NEAC’s recommendations into action. Despite a request from the Economic Development Advisory Commission, the finance committee did not recommend a seat for NEAC on the comprehensive plan stakeholder steering committee. However, Pearson already serves as the EDAC representative to the stakeholder committee.