As the Fairfax County Supervisor for the Braddock District, and a county resident, I understand the importance of a business-friendly climate. I believe a vibrant economy is key to the success of any region. Pro-growth government policy helps generate jobs and economic activity that benefits everyone. One measure of an area’s economic status is the office vacancy rate – measured by the percentage of office space not utilized by business or community partners.
Unfortunately, the vacancy rate in Fairfax County is high. It is a negative trend that affected our ability in this year’s budget to address the needs of our growing population. The county’s Economic Strategic Plan states that the county should study and implement ways to repurpose this vacant space for residential, educational and artistic or cultural purposes.
As chair of the Building Repositioning Workgroup on the Board of Supervisors, a committee formed to address this very problem, I have made it my priority to ensure the county takes all appropriate action to fill this space. For example, craft breweries have become very successful, but until now, the county’s zoning code restricted craft breweries to industrial areas. By easing that code, and providing for commercial space to be used in this manner, Fairfax county joined Arlington and put itself on the market to attract craft breweries.
The county can encourage businesses such as makerspaces, which are places where artisans manufacture a local product and sell it on-site, and Urban farming businesses for example. Both are currently prohibited by the county’s zoning code. Changing policies to allow for creative uses like these, and others, is important for a vibrant, diverse business sector in Fairfax County.
Installing a more flexible business platform is critical to filling this unused space and improving the county’s economy.
John C. Cook was sworn in in March 2009 as a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. On November 8, 2011 he was re-elected to serve a new term as Braddock District Supervisor.