Tysons: An Economic Threat to Washington D.C.?
"Fairfax County is now the downtown. D.C. just became our suburb," declared Gerald L. Gordon, president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, at a recent gathering of the county's business leaders. The reasoning behind his bold assertion is that, compared to D.C., "Fairfax County has far more Fortune 500 companies (nine vs. four), enjoys a much lower unemployment rate (4 percent vs. 8.7 percent), is bookended by two airports and, with Metro arriving, is slated to add dozens of buildings taller than anything in the District," writes Jonathan O'Connell.
Some in the District are taking the threat posed by Tysons' ambitious vision for the future seriously. According to O'Connell, "[t]he Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, a group funded by commercial property owners, ranked the arrival of Metro to Tysons as one of its top concerns in its 2011 annual report."
But Pedro Ribeiro, spokesman for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, dismissed a rivalry between Tysons and the capital. "We don't consider Fairfax County to be our competition," he said, "New York City is our competitor. San Francisco is our competitor. They're not even in the same league."