June 24, 2014
The City of Fairfax Council, Mayor, and School Board members are sworn in for the 2014-2016 term. I saw many friends that evening on the lawn of City Hall, and was honored to begin my second term in such a capacity. Thank you again for the opportunity… I am blessed to have this opportunity to serve our fine City.
I look forward to my second term, and see many ways we can accomplish the goals together. Engagement of businesses and citizens will be key, I note this in my remarks.
Please share with me your thoughts and ideas, as I look forward to sharing with you. Together we must all engage, for the care of ourselves, our neighborhoods, education and economic livelihood, and the future generations.
I can be contacted at:
You may also contact Shannon Duffy, Coordinator with questions or concerns at:
Imagine living in a city where we have easy access to restaurants, shops, public transportation, and work. Traffic congestion is significantly reduced.
There is ample green space for our children to play. Our quality of life is better. We’re healthier and happier. We’re a community and a destination.
Dream or reality?
I believe this can be our reality and I believe in the City of Fairfax.
Get Involved. If you want this to be our reality, too, and believe this is the vision for the city, then you need to help me help the city implement a strategy on how to move forward. Strategy is about making choices and collectively, as a community, we have to choose which direction we want to move in. We have started on the right path, but need to do more to move away from the status quo and think “out of the box” on what can be!
Strategic Action on Many Fronts. Our strategy must be multifaceted and address Economic Growth, Quality of Life, Transportation, Education, Capital Investment, and Partnership with all community stakeholders. Components will include the kind of sustainable development we want and where, revitalizing our economic base, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, strong schools, programs for neighborhood and commercial revitalization, a mix of housing choices, a city-wide aging-in-place program, active support for real regional transportation solutions and effective leadership to do what we say.
This sounds like a lot and it sounds like it will cost a lot of money. That is why it is critical to focus on those components of economic growth that will support and pay for the quality of life characteristics that we all hold so dear.
“I went back and looked at my earlier campaign notes from four years ago… it is very consistent.” I talked about implementing redevelopment projects that we thought would come as a result of the master plan.” The key here is in the past few years, discussion of redevelopment of Fairfax Boulevard and the Master Plan has generated “interests from developers in the City to invest in the Circle, Northfax, and Kamp Washington. Hopefully, within next 2 years we will see this come to fruition because it is sorely needed, not just for residential standpoint, but to attract young families in the city, build up the commercial revenue base, etc.”In order to compete, we must continue down this path.- Michael J. DeMarco March 29, 2014
What Kind of Growth. Studies show that businesses are moving to where the people are and not vice versa and so we must be pro-business and pro-people at the same time, they most go hand-in-hand.
The county is attracting large employers. In the past few years, Hilton, Volkswagen, Northrop Grumman, the SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) and Bechtel moved their headquarters nearby. So the county that surrounds us is smartly implementing economic growth strategies that are building a strong core of economic activity.
We can’t pretend nor have the wherewithal to attract large companies in the city. But we don’t have to.
We can attract the kinds of companies that share the same life qualities we want to maintain. Our focus should be on those ancillary businesses that have contracts with these larger companies but need to be located in close proximity.
Attracting the Next Generation. Several years ago Forbes Magazine published its list of “America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well.” The City of Fairfax placed third on that list. And although the city is a great place for entrepreneurs and small business, the measures keeping Fairfax out of the top spot are its entertainment and cultural offerings as well as the number of young and educated people. “Fairfax is a great place to raise a family and start a business, but few highly educated people ages 25-34 call it home.”
So despite this great accomplishment, unless we implement a strategy that focuses on our strengths and addresses our weaknesses, I think our competitive economic position will continue to weaken and therefore, our level of amenities and city services will diminish.
Considering our own city demographics, if we’re serious about the future viability of the city, then we must be serious about what it will take to attract young professionals and most importantly small to medium sized businesses to the city. These young people are not going to come to the city unless we have the quality of life amenities to attract them. Smart economic growth helps us deliver those amenities to the community, supports those ancillary businesses that are providing local jobs and ultimately enables the city’s ability to build on our arts, historical, cultural and parks attractions.
A recent study by Northeastern University states that as the baby boom generation starts and continues to retire, by 2018, the US will have more jobs than people to fill them.
[And if you consider our own city's demographics, approximately 30% of our population today is aged 50 or older and by 2018 will either be retired or close to retirement.] This is another reason why we need to attract these young professionals and small to medium sized businesses to the city.
These are our realities and we must address them. Economic Growth is not an abstract term. It takes many shapes and forms and we need active participation from everyone to support development, re-development, business recruiting and expansion, small business advances, all while actively shaping regional mass transit solutions, public works projects, code enforcement and zoning. And when done right, Economic Growth has a direct and positive impact on our quality of life.
A Great Place for Entrepreneurs. Again, four years ago Forbes Magazine published its list of “America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well.” The City of Fairfax placed third on that list, a great accomplishment and one of which we are all very proud. And if you go back to that Forbes report, they list the strongest categories that helped determine their ranking. Here is what they said about our city, “A great place for entrepreneurs. Fairfax has the second highest number of sole-proprietors of any place measured on our list, [one of the highest numbers of small businesses per capita], and as a result, its [business] start-ups per capita rank first [of every city, town or borough of under 100,000 people].”
As a former President recently said, economic growth .…. can effectively advance the public good when government, businesses and the community work together to share …. [a vision] and to implement lasting solutions. When our collective …. [vision] is more about strengthening the future than maintaining the present, and when our …. [economic] interests are aligned with our social ones, we will be closer to the kind of place we want all our children and grandchildren to live in.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration and your vote on May 6th.