The Loudoun County Department of Economic Development saw its best year ever in fiscal year 2016, reporting $2.3 billion in investment—the most of any county in Virginia, and double last year’s number, which was its highest on record at that time.
The department’s annual report highlights 71 projects announced last year, ranging from data center giants like CyrusOne and Equinix; to Pilot Malt House, the Virginia craft brewing scene’s first dedicated malting operation; to businesses like indoor skydiving attraction iFly and a “sister airport” marketing partnership between Dulles Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.
“That’s really key,” said Department of Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer. “Our number one strategy is building the diverse economy. We’ve been very successful in data centers, but the reality of the situation is that we have just one person here that’s trying to attract data centers. Everyone else in this department is working to attract other clusters in others businesses.”
Loudoun’s success is being noticed internationally—Dubai has recently reached out to the county about its sister city program. Rizer said there are no new sister city partnerships pending at the moment, but the contact from Dubai is illustrative.
“It’s your goal, right?” Rizer said. “We spend a lot of time doing outbound, and then you get to a certain level, then you start to have people calling you, and we’re starting to see some of that.”
Rizer said not every year can be a $2 billion year, but more good years are ahead as Loudoun grows.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to maximize our rail stations, so that has been an important part of our strategy and will probably be our number one priority going forward.” Rizer said. “And, listen, we’re like any good business. We are constantly evaluating and reassessing our strategy and adjusting as necessary.”