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Impact of Board's Streetcar Decision on Economic Development

The Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey posted an online story this morning, writing about the "Economic-development impact of streetcar decision still unclear" He writes:

"The Arlington County Board’s decision last November to scrap the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects appears not to have caused any developer to scale back or scrap new projects along what had been the proposed routes, said County Manager Barbara Donnellan.

"In the same breath, Donnellan acknowledged that she couldn’t be sure some of the projects in the development pipeline might not be delayed or deferred now that the streetcar plan was history.

"Streetcar supporters had used the prospect of millions, perhaps billions, in new development along the Columbia Pike corridor as one reason to back the transit project. Streetcar opponents simultaneously questioned the dollar amounts, and suggested development might come regardless of the type of transit.

"Quizzed by streetcar opponent John Vihstadt at the March 17 County Board meeting, Donnellan said there was no proof the change of plans has had a negative impact.

“I don’t have any indication that has changed anyone’s direction,” she said."

McCaffrey has more details so it's well-worth reading his entire article, including several alternatives for affordable housing in the county.

Last Friday, March 13, 2015. we posted an extensive Growls about the challenges of economic development in Arlington County. At the ARLnow.com online news site, we learn in a story posted this afternoon that "few tech companies (are) taking advantage of (an) Arlington tax break." Consequently. we were surprised to read:

"Only a handful of companies are taking advantage of an Arlington tax break intended to help bolster the county’s tech sector.

"One possible explanation for the lack of participation in a program that could save companies thousands of dollars a year: many local tech companies say they haven’t heard about it.

"Last year, the Arlington County Board approved a measure “to broaden the Technology Zone incentive program for new technology companies.” The action was trumpeted in a press release by then-County Board chair Jay Fisette.

“These updates reflect the reality of a quickly-changing tech world,” Fisette said at the time. “I said that we would lay the groundwork this year for Arlington to become a hub of the innovation economy. This update to our Tech Zones is a big step in the right direction.”

"As of March 19, however, only eight businesses had applied and subsequently qualified for “Technology Zone” status for their 2014 taxes, according to Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Ann Bisson. She could not say which companies had qualified nor how much local tax revenue those companies represent."

It seems that rather than trying to build a larger leviathan of economic development, the new director should be using an existing tool in the AED toolbox.

Growls readers are encourage to communicate with the Arlington County Board about this or budget-related topics. Just  click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

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