State of the County Address

State of the County Address

May 25, 2017
Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large)

IT WOULD BE FAIR TO SAY MY SECOND STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS COULD BE RELATIVELY SHORT. I COULD, IN ALL HONESTY, JUST MAKE THE DECLARATIVE STATEMENT “THE STATE OF LOUDOUN COUNTY IS STRONG” AND LEAVE THE PODIUM. HOWEVER, INSTEAD, I’M GOING TO OFFER A CASE FOR THAT STATEMENT.

LOUDOUN, AS WE CLOSE THE BOOKS ON FISCAL YEAR 2017, I’M PLEASED TO REPORT WE HAVE RETAINED OUR AAA CREDIT RATING FROM ALL THREE RATING AGENCIES. LOUDOUN CONTINUES ITS TREND OF RECORD-SETTING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. WE HAVE ATTRACTED MORE THAN 3 BILLION DOLLARS OF NEW COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT FROM MORE THAN 80 COMPANIES AND HAVE CREATED OR RETAINED MORE THAN 2,500 JOBS. IT IS NO WONDER LOUDOUN ENJOYS AN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF 3.2% AND WAS RANKED THIRD IN THE NATION FOR JOB GROWTH FOR 2015. WE CONTINUED THAT ROBUST JOB GROWTH THROUGH 2016. WHILE WE ARE STILL THE WORLD’S LARGEST AND FASTEST GROWING DATA CENTER MARKET, WE ARE ALSO FOCUSING OUR ATTENTION ON ECONOMIC DIVERSITY. THIS PAST YEAR HAS SEEN NEW AND EXPANDED BUSINESSES ACROSS A WIDE RANGE OF CLUSTERS, INCLUDING AVIATION, AEROSPACE, HEALTH I.T., PHARMA, CYBER SECURITY, LOGISTICS AND RETAIL. WE CONTINUE TO BE PRO-ACTIVE IN OUR APPROACH TO BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. RECENTLY OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TEAM WAS RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF THE TOP ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENTS IN THE COUNTRY. LEADING THAT TEAM IS MR. BUDDY RIZER WHO COULD NOT JOIN US TONIGHT BECAUSE HE IS RECEIVING A TECH TITAN AWARD FROM WASHINGTONIAN MAGAZINE. IN ADDITION, MR. RIZER WAS NAMED ONE OF THE TOP 50 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTORS IN THE COUNTRY AND THE ONLY TOP-50 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR IN THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA AREA. ALTHOUGH THE NEWS REGARDING LOUDOUN’S ECONOMY IS STRONG, I AND OTHERS ARE AWARE THAT THE LACK OF WORKFORCE HOUSING IN LOUDOUN COUNTY AND IN FACT, THE REGION, COULD HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON WHAT IS OTHERWISE A POSITIVE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

AT ITS BASE, HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IS REQUIRED FOR STRONG ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND IT WOULD BE PRUDENT FOR COUNTY GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS, DEVELOPMENT AND NONPROFIT COMMUNITIES TO ADDRESS THIS PRESSING ISSUE BEFORE IT BECOMES A CRISIS. LAST WEEK MY OFFICE ATTENDED THE FIRST OF MANY HOUSING LEADERS’ SUMMITS. ELECTED OFFICIALS AND INDUSTRY LEADERS FROM AROUND THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION ARE COMING TOGETHER WITH A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING THAT HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY IF WE HOPE TO ATTRACT BUSINESSES AND COMPANIES TO LOCATE IN THE REGION. LATER THIS YEAR YOUR COUNTY BOARD AND STAFF WILL HOLD A LOUDOUN HOUSING SUMMIT WITH THE GOAL OF TRYING TO FIND SUSTAINED SOLUTIONS FOR HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IN LOUDOUN COUNTY.

JUST AS MR. RIZER ATTRACTS BUSINESSES TO LOUDOUN COUNTY, TONY HOWARD, PRESIDENT OF THE LOUDOUN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE,

FOCUSES ON HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES REACH THEIR GROWTH POTENTIAL AND BECOME A KEY COMPONENT IN LOUDOUN’S ECONOMY. IN LOUDOUN, APPROXIMATELY 86% OF ALL BUSINESSES HAVE FEWER THAN 20 EMPLOYEES, AND 72% HAVE LESS THAN TEN. A FULL 26% OF LOUDOUN’S WORKFORCE IS EMPLOYED BY A SMALL BUSINESS. MR. HOWARD AND HIS TEAM AT THE LOUDOUN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PARTNER WITH OTHER BUSINESSES, NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS AND LOUDOUN COUNTY GOVERNMENT TO SERVE AS A CENTRAL POINT OF CONTACT FOR ENTREPRENEURS. LOUDOUN, YOUR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IS QUICKLY BECOMING NORTHERN VIRGINIA’S PREMIER BUSINESS NETWORKING AND ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION. LET ME OFFER A COMPELLING EXAMPLE OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF OUR CHAMBER.

IN MARCH OF 2016, MARQUEL FORBES MADE THE VERY BRAVE AND HARD DECISION TO BECOME AN INSURANCE AGENCY OWNER. IN OTHER WORDS, SHE STARTED HER OWN BUSINESS. MS. FORBES ASKED ME ABOUT LOUDOUN’S CHAMBER. MY ADVICE TO HER WAS THAT OUR CHAMBER IS A GREAT ASSET TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS AND I ENCOURAGED HER TO JOIN. ONE YEAR LATER MS. FORBES’ BUSINESS IS THRIVING. I RECENTLY ASKED HER ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE WITH LOUDOUN’S CHAMBER, AND SHE STATED SHE FEELS OUR CHAMBER IS VERY HELPFUL AND SUPPORTIVE OF NEW ENTREPRENEURS. SHE WENT ON TO SAY THERE ARE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO NETWORK AND RECEIVE ASSISTANCE SHE LITERALLY DOES NOT HAVE THE TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE CHAMBER HAS TO OFFER. SHE ALSO NOTED SHE’S ALREADY PAID ALL OF HER CHAMBER DUES FOR NEXT YEAR.

OF COURSE AS CHAIR, I OFTEN MEET BUSINESS OWNERS OUTSIDE OF THE CHAMBER. LAST YEAR AT A COMMUNITY EVENT, ONE OF LOUDOUN’S SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS APPROACHED ME AND INVITED ME TO VISIT HIS BUSINESS, “SAFE SHIP” A “MOM AND POP” FRANCHISE SHIPPING COMPANY. IN 2014, MR. ANTHONY MCKENZIE CUT THE RIBBON ON HIS NEW FRANCHISE. MR. MCKENZIE IS A LOUDOUN COUNTY RESIDENT WHO CHOSE TO LOCATE HIS BUSINESS IN THE COMMUNITY AND COUNTY WHERE HE LIVES BECAUSE IN HIS WORDS, “I WANTED TO GIVE BACK TO MY COMMUNITY.” ALWAYS WANTING TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT DRIVES YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS, I WAS HONORED TO VISIT “SAFE SHIP.” ANTHONY AND HIS GENERAL MANAGER, ROB TYNES, WERE VERY GENEROUS WITH THEIR TIME, TALKING AT LENGTH ABOUT THE GOALS FOR “SAFE SHIP,” AND HOW THEY ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO PARTNER WITH THE COMMUNITY AND ENSURE “SAFE SHIP” IS A VALUABLE PARTNER IN LOUDOUN.

WHILE VISITING “SAFE SHIP,” A MAN NAME BRIAN STORTS STOPPED BY. AS IT TURNS OUT MR. STORTS, OR BRIAN AS HE IMMEDIATELY ASKED ME TO CALL HIM, OWNS HIS OWN SMALL BUSINESS, “FLAGS OF VALOR.” BRIAN AND I CHATTED FOR A WHILE, AND I LEARNED BRIAN’S BUSINESS HANDCRAFTS WOODEN FLAGS TO BE SENT TO MILITARY FAMILIES AND, AT TIMES FAMILIES OF FALLEN VETERANS. EMPLOYING ONLY VETERANS, YOU CAN IMAGINE, EVERY FLAG IS LOVINGLY AND SPECIALLY MADE TO ORDER. AFTER FIRST EXPLAINING HIS BUSINESS, BRIAN OFFERED TO SHOW ME AN EXAMPLE OF ONE OF HIS FLAGS.

IT IMMEDIATELY BECAME CLEAR TO ME WHAT A REMARKABLE VISION BRIAN AND HIS CHIEF OF STAFF, MIKE TAYLOR, HAD WHEN THEY ESTABLISHED “FLAGS OF VALOR.” NOW HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART, BRIAN CAME INTO “SAFE SHIP” THAT DAY BECAUSE THESE TWO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS REALIZED THEIR SEPARATE BUSINESSES COULD COMPLEMENT ONE ANOTHER. “FLAGS OF VALOR” ARE MADE IN LOUDOUN AND SHIPPED FROM LOUDOUN THROUGH “SAFE SHIP” TO DESTINATIONS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. SINCE THAT DAY BRIAN WALKED INTO “SAFE SHIP,” “FLAGS OF VALOR” HAS RECEIVED NATIONAL ATTENTION, HOWEVER, BRIAN, I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER…I FOUND YOU FIRST. I AM HONORED TO ASK MR. TONY HOWARD, MS. MARQUEL FORBES, MR. ANTHONY MCKENZIE, MR. BRIAN STORTS AND MEMBERS OF THE LOUDOUN COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STAFF TO ALL STAND SO THAT WE MAY THANK THEM FOR THEIR COLLECTIVE AND ENDURING SUPPORT TO THE LOUDOUN COUNTY BUSINESS COMMUNITY.

OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE MANY CARING AND COMMITTED RESIDENTS OF LOUDOUN COUNTY OUTSIDE THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY WHO, EVERY DAY FIND AMAZING WAYS TO SERVE. LAST YEAR I WAS HONORED TO MEET A GROUP OF LOUDOUN CITIZENS WHO, DESPITE A HEARTBREAKING TRAGEDY, WERE ABLE TO JOIN TOGETHER TO HEAL AND RESPOND TO THE COMMUNITY NEED.

ON APRIL 2ND 2016, CHRISTINA FISHER, A YOUNG MOTHER, WAS MURDERED ALLEGEDLY BY HER THEN ESTRANGED BOYFRIEND. A FEW DAYS AFTER THE INCIDENT I LEARNED THE COMMUNITY SHE LIVED IN HAD DECIDED TO HOLD A MEMORIAL SERVICE TO BE HELD IN BOLEN PARK. MR. STEVE TORPY AND THE PARKS AND REC STAFF ENSURED THE PARK GRASS WAS CUT AND SPRAYED IN PREPARATION FOR THE SERVICE. HAVING NEVER MET MS. FISHER, I DIDN’T WANT TO INTRUDE THUS I HAD NO PLANS TO ATTEND HER MEMORIAL SERVICE, HOWEVER, ON THE DAY OF THE SERVICE, MY COLLEAGUE, SUPERVISOR KRISTIN UMSTATTD, INFORMED ME SHE WAS GOING TO ATTEND. IT WAS WITH SOME HESITATION I DECIDED JOIN HER. DURING THE SERVICE, I HAPPENED TO STAND BEHIND A GENTLEMAN WHO WAS SO UPSET, IN FACT, SO ANGRY HE WAS LITERALLY SHAKING. AND WHY NOT? HE HAD JUST LOST A FRIEND TO A SENSELESS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TRAGEDY. AFTER THE SERVICE, AND WITH A GOOD BIT OF TREPIDATION, I APPROACHED THIS GENTLEMAN AS HE STOOD TALKING WITH A GROUP OF HIS EQUALLY DISTRAUGHT AND ANGRY PEERS. I OFFERED TO HELP IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE, PASSED OUT BUSINESS CARDS AND, QUITE HONESTLY ASSUMED, I’D NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN. A FEW DAYS LATER I RECEIVED A CALL FROM DEREK SUMMERS WHO, JUST ABOUT DARED ME TO KEEP MY WORD AND DO SOMETHING TO HELP THIS STRICKEN COMMUNITY. I INVITED MR. SUMMERS TO COME TO MY OFFICE AND TO BRING WITH HIM ANYONE HE DEEMED APPROPRIATE. I’D HOPED OUR COMMON GOAL WOULD BE TWOFOLD. ONE, TO HOLD A CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW TO HELP THE COMMUNITY HEAL AND TWO, TO EDUCATE THE COMMUNITY AS TO THE VERY REAL IMPACTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON A FAMILY AND ON A COMMUNTY. AND COME THEY DID. ONE BY ONE THEY ARRIVED AT MY OFFICE TO DISCUSS HOW TO HELP THE COMMUNITY RESPOND TO THIS TRAGEDY AND HOW TO EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT THE SCOURGE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. AFTER MANY MONTHS, MANY MEETINGS AND A LOT OF PLANNING, THE COMMUNITY LED BY MR. SUMMERS CAME TOGETHER TO HOLD A DAY OF ACTION AND EDUCATION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. VENDORS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS, THE FAITH COMMUNITY AND COUNTY STAFF ALL PARTICIPATED IN THE FIRST ANNUAL, “IT TAKES OUR VILLAGE COMMUNITY AWARENESS DAY.” THE EVENT REPRESENTED A REMARKABLE EXAMPLE OF WHAT A SINGLE LOUDOUN COUNTY COMMUNITY CAN AND WILL DO WHEN FACED WITH A CRISIS. THAT DAY PAID HOMAGE TO THE LIFE OF MS. FISHER AND OFFERED ASSISTANCE AND RESOURCES TO ANY MAN, WOMAN OR CHILD WHO FIND THEMSELVES IN ABUSIVE SITUATIONS. ALTHOUGH I WAS HONORED TO OFFER ASSISTANCE, LET ME BE CLEAR; THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT THAT MADE THIS EVENT A SUCCESS WAS A GRASSROOTS EFFORT FROM MS. FISHER’S COMMUNITY WHO SIMPLY WANTED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. AND WHO MISSED THEIR FRIEND. I’D LIKE TO ASK THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE TO PLEASE STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED. SHANEKA OWENS, GIA BROWN, DEWAYNE KING, KATHERINE HAILEY AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I’D LIKE YOU TO MEET SOMEONE I’M PROUD TO CALL MY FRIEND, MR. DEREK SUMMERS.

AS I MENTIONED, LOUDOUN COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONDED IMMEDIATELY TO SUPPORT MR. SUMMERS AND THE COMMUNITY WITH THE “IT TAKES OUR VILLAGE” EFFORT. IN WAYS LARGE AND SMALL, OUR SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT DOES SO MUCH MORE THAN WHAT IS NORMALLY CONSIDERED A LAW ENFORCEMENT TASK. EARLIER THIS MONTH, IN JUST ONE WEEK, OUR SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES RESPONDED TO A NAKED MAN IN THE STREET, A FLOCK OF GEESE IN THE STREET, A FAMILY OF ESCAPED COWS RUNNING THROUGH THE STREETS OF LEESBURG, AND AN INTOXICATED MAN WHO TRIED TO BITE AN OFFICER. THAT WAS IN ONE WEEK. EVERY DAY, OUR SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES COME TO WORK NOT KNOWING WHAT NEW COMEDY OR CHALLENGE WILL FACE THEM. LIKE EVERY OTHER COMMUNITY, LOUDOUN IS NOT IMMUNE TO THE SERIOUS COMMUNITY IMPACT OF SUBSTANCES SUCH AS ALCOHOL, HEROIN, AND METHAMPHETAMINE. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS MUST DEAL WITH AN EVER INCREASING NUMBER OF FIREARMS IN THE HANDS OF…WELL IN VIRGINIA, ALMOST ANYONE AND THEY MUST REGULARLY INTERACT WITH PEOPLE WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS WHO BELONG IN A MEDICAL FACILITY, BUT WHO, BECAUSE OF A LACK OF RESOURCES, END UP IN JAIL. THANKFULLY IN LOUDOUN COUNTY UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF SHERIFF MIKE CHAPMAN, ALMOST 70% OF OUR SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES HAVE COMPLETED OR ARE DUE TO COMPLETE THE CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING. THIS TRAINING WILL HELP OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFECTIVELY DE-ESCALATE CRISIS MOMENTS THUS OFFERING LAW ENFORCEMENT MORE TOOLS AND OPTIONS AS THEY ENCOUNTER MENTALLY ILL OR SUBSTANCE-INFLUENCED RESIDENTS. ALTHOUGH THE LEESBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT DOES NOT FALL UNDER OUR COUNTY GOVERNANCE, I RECENTLY LEARNED THE LEESBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT IS THE CENTRAL POINT OF CONTACT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA TO RECEIVE TRAINING IN COMMUNITY POLICING. IN LOUDOUN, THE POLICE DEPARTMENTS FROM OUR TOWN GOVERNMENTS WORK HAND IN HAND WITH OUR SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT TO ENSURE OUR COUNTY HAS EFFECTIVE, SEAMLESS LAW ENFORCEMENT AND TO KEEP OUR RESIDENTS SAFE.

OF COURSE WHEN ONE TALKS OF FIRST RESPONDERS, WE MEAN NOT ONLY LAW ENFORCEMENT, BUT ALSO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF LOUDOUN COUNTY’S COMBINED FIRE AND RESCUE. IN LOUDOUN, WE ENJOY A COMBINED FIRE AND RESCUE SYSTEM; IN FACT, APPROXIMATELY 62% OF OUR COMBINED FIRE AND RESCUE SYSTEM COMPRISES ACTIVE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMS STAFF. LAST YEAR, LOUDOUN’S ACTIVE VOLUNTEER FIRE AND RESCUE STAFF GAVE THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF SERVICE TO OUR COUNTY. DURING THIS PAST BUDGET SEASON, I MADE A MOTION TO INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY IN THE VOLUNTEER FIRE AND RESCUE TUITION REIMBURSEMENT FUND. MY ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO DOUBLE THE AMOUNT ALLOCATED FOR TUITION REIMBURSEMENT FROM $22.5 THOUSAND TO $50,000 BY THE END OF THIS BOARD’S TERM. I FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT WE RECOGNIZE THE SACRIFICES OF OUR VOLUNTEER FIRE AND RESCUE TEAM AND WHEN POSSIBLE DO WHAT WE CAN TO INCENTIVIZE THEM TO CONTINUE THEIR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTY. I’M HAPPY TO REPORT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVED THE FIRST EIGHT THOUSAND ($8,000) TOWARD THAT EFFORT.

LAST YEAR DURING MY STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS, I DISCUSSED THE PAY DIFFERENTIAL OF OUR CAREER FIREFIGHTERS IN LOUDOUN COUNTY COMPARED TO THEIR COUNTERPARTS IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION. I REALIZE THAT WHAT ONE IS PAID IS NOT NORMALLY DISCUSSED IN POLITE COMPANY, HOWEVER OVER THE PAST YEAR I HAVE MADE IT A POINT TO VISIT AS MANY FIRE AND RESCUE STATIONS AS POSSIBLE. I’VE HAD HONEST, FRANK DISCUSSIONS WITH OUR CAREER FIRE AND RESCUE STAFF AND GATHERED INFORMATION ABOUT THE PAY STRUCTURE DIFFERENCE IN LOUDOUN, COMPARED TO CAREER STAFF IN THE OTHER PARTS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION. THE FACT IS, LESS THAN 30% OF OUR CAREER FIRE AND RESCUE FORCE LIVE IN LOUDOUN. THE FACT IS, MANY OF OUR FIRE AND RESCUE CAREER STAFF CONTINUE TO LEAVE FOR LATERAL POSITIONS IN OTHER DEPARTMENTS IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION. AND, THE FACT IS, WE LOSE AN AVERAGE OF 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS IN RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING COSTS WHEN A CAREER FIREFIGHTER LEAVES AND TAKES WITH THEM THEIR SKILLS, ENERGY AND DEDICATION. THESE ARE ALL REASONS THAT, AS LONG AS I AM THE CHAIR OF THIS COUNTY, I WILL CONTINUE TO OPENLY DISCUSS AND ADVOCATE FOR A PAY STRUCTURE COMPETITIVE ENOUGH TO ATTRACT, TRAIN AND MOST IMPORTANTLY RETAIN CAREER STAFF.

ALTHOUGH OUR CAREER FIRE AND RESCUE STAFF REALIZE AND KNOW WE APPRECIATE THEM AND CONTINUALLY PRAY THAT, IN WORDS OF CHIEF BROWER, “EVERY DAY AND ON EVERY SHIFT EVERYONE GOES HOME,” TO BE QUITE BLUNT, OUR CAREER FIRE AND RESCUE STAFF CAN NEITHER PAY THEIR MORTGAGE NOR FEED THEIR FAMILIES RELYING SOLELY ON OUR PRAYERS AND APPRECIATION. WE HAVE TO OFFER THEM A PAY STRUCTURE THAT IS COMPETITIVE IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION.

AT HIS TIME I WOULD INVITE ALL FIRST RESPONDERS IN THE ROOM TO STAND AND ALLOW US TO THANK THEM.

DURING MY FIRST YEAR AS CHAIR, I HAVE MADE EVERY EFFORT NOT TO SIT BEHIND MY DESK BUT TO VISIT VARIOUS COUNTY AGENCIES, SMALL BUSINESSES, NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS AND LARGE COMPANIES IN LOUDOUN COUNTY. ONE OF THE MORE FASCINATING PLACES IN LOUDOUN, AND I WOULD VENTURE IN THE ENTIRE REGION, IS THE JANELIA RESEARCH CAMPUS. NESTLED IN A CORNER OF LANSDOWNE, THE HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE’S JANELIA FARM CONTINUES ITS ABSOLUTELY GROUND-BREAKING RESEARCH IN THE AREAS OF BEHAVIOR & SYSTEMS NEUROSCIENCE, EVOLUTION & GENETICS, NEURONAL CELL BIOLOGY, STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY AND MORE. THE JANELIA CAMPUS INCLUDES 50 LABS, NINE PROJECT TEAMS AND ADDITIONAL SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT STAFF. IN ADDITION THEY HOST OVER 380 RESEARCHERS, MORE THAN 100 POST-DOCTORAL SCIENTISTS, AND ROUGHLY 20 GRADUATE STUDENTS. JANELIANS, AS THEY CALL THEMSELVES, COME FROM 26 COUNTRIES. EVERY YEAR, APPROXIMATELY 155 VISITING SCIENTISTS SPEND TIME WORKING AT JANELIA. AS THEY STATE ON THEIR WEBSITE, JANELIA EMBRACES DIVERSITY. THEY HAVE BIOLOGISTS, CHEMISTS, PHYSICISTS, COMPUTATIONAL SCIENTISTS, THEORISTS, AND ENGINEERS ALL WORKING IN CLOSE COLLABORATION. STEPPING ON THE JANELIA CAMPUS, ONE CAN SENSE THE SCIENTISTS, RESEARCH STAFF, SUPPORT STAFF AND EVEN ADMINISTRATORS REALIZE THE RESEARCH THEY ARE DOING ON FRUIT FLIES AND DRAGON FLIES CAN HAVE REAL WORLD IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF MILLIONS. WHAT THEY ARE LEARNING CAN, ONE DAY, CHANGE THE WAY WE UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN BRAIN. EVERYTHING ABOUT JANELIA — FROM ITS OPEN AND UNIQUE CAMPUS THAT HOUSES THE BRIGHTEST RESEARCH MINDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO THE ATMOSPHERE THAT NOT ONLY ALLOWS, BUT ALSO ENCOURAGES COLLABORATION AND TEAMWORK — IS TRULY GROUNDBREAKING. JANELIA IS A REMARKABLE ASSET, AND WE ARE FORTUNATE THEY CALL LOUDOUN HOME. TONIGHT, I’D ASK KEN REGNIER FROM THE HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE JANELIA FARM CAMPUS TO STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED.

I ALSO MENTIONED I HAVE VISITED OR HAVE BEEN VISITED BY MANY NONPROFITS IN LOUDOUN. THE TRUTH IS, I HAVE MADE IT A POINT NOT ONLY TO SPEND TIME LEARNING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT LOUDOUN’S NONPROFIT COMMUNITY BUT ALSO HOW OUR NONPROFIT AND OUR FAITH-BASED COMMUNITY HAS AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE AN INVALUABLE RESOURCE IN OUR COUNTY. IT IS NO SECRET THAT FOR MANY YEARS, LOUDOUN’S FUNDING OF OUR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEMS HAS NOT KEPT UP WITH OUR PHENOMENAL GROWTH RATE. ALTHOUGH THIS YEAR, THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS DID MAKE PROGRESS BY ADDING A TOTAL OF 12.53 POSITIONS TO OUR HUMAN SERVICES AGENCIES AND ALLOCATING 600 THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR CONTRACT SERVICES FOR ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS “EVERY CITIZEN HAS OPPORTUNITIES,” OTHERWISE KNOWN AS (ECHO), LOUDOUN CONTINUES TO RELY ON OUR NONPROFIT AND FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES TO FILL THE GAP AND STAND IN THE BREACH.

ALTHOUGH I UNDERSTAND THERE ARE SOME WHO BELIEVE THIS SECTOR IS NO PLACE TO SPEND TAX DOLLARS AND THAT DIRECTLY ASSISTING SOME OF OUR MORE AT-RISK CITIZENS SHOULD BE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE NONPROFIT AND FAITH-BASED COMMUNITY, I WOULD RESPECTFULLY…DISAGREE. ALL THE NONPROFITS AND FAITH DOLLARS COMBINED COULD NOT COVER THE NEEDS — NOT WANTS, BUT THE NEEDS — OF OUR MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY AND AT-RISK COMMUNITIES IN LOUDOUN. IN THE YEAR 2000, LOUDOUN WAS HOME TO 170 THOUSAND PEOPLE. TODAY, 385 THOUSAND PEOPLE CALL LOUDOUN HOME. WE GROW BY APPROXIMATELY 35 PEOPLE PER DAY OR 11,000 PLUS PER YEAR. WHEN A COUNTY GROWS AS FAST AS LOUDOUN, WE CAN AND WE SHOULD EXPECT AN INCREASED NEED FOR SOCIAL SERVICES THAT FAR OUTPACES THE ABILITY OF OUR NONPROFIT AND FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES. HAVING SAID THAT, EVERY DAY OUR NONPROFIT AND FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES ANSWER THE 3:00 AM PHONE CALL FROM THE WOMAN WHO HAS LEFT AN ABUSIVE SITUATION. THEY RESPOND TO THE FATHER WHO LOST HIS JOB AND CANNOT FEED HIS FAMILY OR THE TEEN WHO IS OVERWHELMED AND IS STARTING TO FEEL A SENSE OF HOPELESSNESS. HONESTLY, THERE IS NEVER A TIME WE CAN PAY YOU ENOUGH FOR THE TRUE VALUE OF YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COMMUNITY. WE CAN’T AFFORD YOU, BUT WE DO THANK YOU AND HONOR YOU. I’D ASK THE REPRESENTATIVES OF OUR NONPROFIT AND FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES TO PLEASE STAND.

IN 2015, MY FIRST MEETING AS CHAIR ELECT WAS WITH MR. PAUL WIEDEFELD. MR. WIEDEFELD WAS JUST ONE MONTH IN HIS NEW POSITION OF GENERAL MANAGER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, MORE COMMONLY KNOWN AS METRO. BECAUSE THIS WAS MY FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING AS CHAIR-ELECT, IT STANDS OUT IN MY MEMORY. MR. WIEDEFELD PERHAPS SENSING THE NERVOUSNESS OF THE NEW CHAIR AT LARGE OF THE COUNTY THAT WAS TO BECOME THE NEWEST MEMBER OF WAMATA LOOKED AT ME AND WITH A SMILE ASKED “ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?” UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATING HIS QUESTION, I RESPONDED, “I HOPE SO, HOW ABOUT YOU?” MR. WIEDEFELD EVEN THEN, VERY EARLY IN HIS TENURE WAS STARTING TO FORM THE LONG-TERM PLAN TO BRING METRO “BACK TO GOOD.” FROM THAT DAY TO THIS, PAUL WIEDEFELD HAS MADE THE VERY TOUGH DECISIONS TO RIGHT THE SHIP OF METRO NEVER DENYING THE MANY ISSUES THAT HAVE AILED METRO FOR OVER TWO DECADES. ISSUES THAT INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: SAFETY STANDARDS, RELIABILITY, AND CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS. MR. WIEDEFELD REALIZES THAT JUST AS IT HAS TAKEN MANY YEARS FOR THE METRO SYSTEM TO EXPERIENCE THESE ISSUES, THEY WILL NOT BE RESOLVED IN A YEAR OR TWO. BUT WHAT I KNOW WITH CERTAINTY IS THAT A HEALTHY METRO IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY TO THE ECONOMIC VIABILITY OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION. LET US NEVER FORGET THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO RELY ON METRO AS THEIR ONLY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION. PEOPLE WHO USE METRO BUS AND RAIL TO GET TO WORK, SCHOOL, TO GROCERY SHOP OR EVEN TO A HOUSE OF WORSHIP. IN ADDITION, BECAUSE METRO MOVES THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE, METRO IS NOT JUST IMPORTANT TO THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION BUT TO THE ENTIRE COMMONWEALTH AND INDEED TO THE COUNTRY. IT IS IN ALL OUR INTEREST AND BENEFITS US ALL, TO BRING METRO “BACK TO GOOD.” CURRENTLY THERE ARE NO LESS THAN THREE SEPARATE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE COMMITTED TO FINDING LONG-TERM, SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS TO MAKE METRO WHOLE. WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF MR. WIEDEFELD, AND FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION RAY LAHOOD, WHO HAS BEEN TASKED TO LEAD AN INDEPENDENT PANEL TO STUDY METRO GOVERNANCE AND FINANCES, THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT TO THE COMMITMENT LEVEL TO RESTORE METRO TO THE SAFE, EFFECTIVE TRANSIT SYSTEM IT ONCE WAS AND CAN BE AGAIN.

WE WILL OF COURSE WELCOME THE METRO TO LOUDOUN IN 2019, AND THERE’S WORK TO BE DONE TO PREPARE FOR ITS ARRIVAL. ONE OF THE MORE IMPORTANT AND IMPACTFUL GOALS OF THIS BOARD IS TO OVERSEE A FULL AND COMPLETE REVIEW OF LOUDOUN’S GENERAL PLAN, OFTEN REFERRED TO AS THE COUNTY-WIDE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. THIS TWO-YEAR EFFORT IS REFERRED TO AS ENVISION LOUDOUN. LOUDOUN’S CURRENT GENERAL PLAN HAS BEEN IN PLACE FOR OVER SIXTEEN YEARS. ALTHOUGH LOUDOUN HAS AMENDED OUR PLAN THROUGHOUT THE PAST SIXTEEN YEARS, WE HAVEN’T COMPLETED A FULL COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW. ENVISION LOUDOUN COMPLIES WITH THE VIRGINIA CODE THAT REQUIRES A FULL REVIEW OF THE GENERAL PLAN.

IN THE PAST SIXTEEN YEARS, LOUDOUN HAS EXPERIENCED WHAT CAN FAIRLY BE DESCRIBED AS EXPONENTIAL GROWTH. AS I SAID, SINCE 2000, LOUDOUN’S POPULATION HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED. BY THE YEAR 2045, THAT NUMBER COULD GROW TO AS MANY AS 430 THOUSAND PEOPLE. IN 2000, THE NUMBER OF ETHNICALLY OR RACIALLY DIVERSE LOUDOUN RESIDENTS WAS 17%. TODAY THAT NUMBER IS 31% AND RISING. IN ADDITION, THE MEDIAN AGE IN LOUDOUN IS NOW JUST 35. OUR THRIVING ECONOMY AND DESIRABLE QUALITY- OF-LIFE MAKES LOUDOUN AN IDEAL PLACE TO LIVE, ATTRACTING NEW RESIDENTS, YOUNG FAMILIES AND EMPTY NESTERS LOOKING FOR THEIR NEXT LIFE ADVENTURE. HOWEVER, IN ORDER TO BE RESPONSIVE TO OUR CURRENT RESIDENTS AND NEIGHBORS AND FULLY PREPARED TO WELCOME NEW RESIDENTS, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE, LOUDOUN’S STAFF, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, AND RESIDENTS COME TOGETHER TO COMPLETE ENVISION LOUDOUN, OUR NEW COMPREHENSIVE PLAN.

ON APRIL 21, 2016, THIS CURRENT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN CHARTER, THUS TAKING THE FIRST STEPS TO WRITING A NEW GENERAL PLAN. WHEN COMPLETE, THIS NEW GENERAL PLAN WILL ADDRESS A BROAD RANGE OF TOPICS TO INCLUDE: LAND USE, HOUSING, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, EMPLOYMENT AND CULTURAL PRESERVATION. AS YOU MAY KNOW, A 26-MEMBER COMPREHENSIVE PLAN STAKEHOLDERS COMMITTEE COMPRISING A DIVERSE GROUP OF CITIZENS WITH A WIDE RANGE OF SPECIALTIES AND INTERESTS, HAS BEEN HARD AT WORK FOR ALMOST A YEAR SUGGESTING REVISIONS TO THE GENERAL PLAN.

ONE OF THE MORE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS WE WILL ENGAGE IN IS LAND USE IN OUR RURAL AND TRANSITION POLICY AREAS. ON THIS TOPIC, I BELIEVE THE PAST IS PROLOGUE, AND I SAY NOW WHAT I’VE SAID MANY TIMES IN THE PAST: ONE OF THE MANY THINGS THAT MAKES LOUDOUN SUCH A UNIQUE PLACE TO LIVE IS THAT WE CAN BOAST HAVING SUBURBAN, TRANSITION AND RURAL POLICY AREAS. THE ARRIVAL OF THE METRO WILL ALSO OFFER AN URBAN LIVING ENVIRONMENT WHERE RESIDENTS WILL ENJOY WALKABLE COMMUNITIES WHERE ONE CAN LIVE, WORK, PLAY AND LEARN ALL WITHIN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD.

OVER THE NEXT YEAR, LOUDOUN CITIZENS SHOULD CONTINUE TO ENGAGE MEMBERS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN STAKEHOLDERS GROUP TO OFFER IDEAS AND FEEDBACK.

ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. I WANT TO THANK RICKY BARKER, THE PLANNING AND ZONING STAFF AS WELL AS ALL MEMBERS OF THE STAKEHOLDERS GROUP FOR THEIR CONTINUED DEDICATION TO THIS ARDUOUS YET ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE TASK. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK RICKY BARKER, CHRIS GARCIA AND MEMBERS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN STAKEHOLDERS GROUP TO PLEASE STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED.

SO WE NOW FIND OURSELVES BACK WHERE WE STARTED. I BELIEVE I HAVE LAID OUT A CLEAR AND COMPELLING CASE THAT LOUDOUN’S ECONOMY IS ROBUST, DIVERSE AND GROWING. OUR FIRST RESPONDERS ARE CAPABLE AND COMMITTED, OUR GOVERNMENT IS SOUND AND EFFECTIVE, OUR NONPROFIT AND FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES ARE ENGAGED AND STAND READY TO ASSIST, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, LOUDOUN’S CITIZENS ARE CARING AND WILL ORGANIZE TO HELP A NEIGHBOR OR COMMUNITY.

SO LOUDOUN, I SAY THIS WITHOUT EQUIVOCATION THAT THE STATE OF OUR COUNTY IS STRONG.

WE ARE STRONG, WE ARE THRIVING AND WE ARE STANDING ON THE CUSP OF AN EXCITING FUTURE FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND INNOVATIONS. TOGETHER LET’S ENJOY THE RIDE.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU.

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