AED Kicks Off Economic Development Week with Release of Strategic Plan

May 6, 2024


This week, May 6–10, marks Economic Development Week 2024 — an occasion that serves as an opportunity to recognize the vital role that economic growth plays in shaping our communities and driving prosperity worldwide. 

In Arlington, economic development is about creating prosperity for all. We work hard to foster a resilient and inclusive economy where businesses thrive, jobs are created and opportunities abound for all residents. We also keep our eye on the bottom line to ensure we have a healthy tax base that can support our strong quality of life. Our team at AED does this by building upon Arlington’s location-based and workforce strengths, leveraging our quality of life assets, nimbly responding to market disruptions as they arise and embracing innovation to ensure sustainable economic growth for generations to come. 

In alignment with the spirit of Economic Development Week and in honor of this occasion, Arlington Economic Development (AED) is thrilled to unveil its Economic Development Strategic Plan for 2024–2028. This plan, crafted with input from community members and stakeholders, charts a course for the next five years through five key goals and actionable strategies, all of which will guide decision-making and foster innovation in Arlington.  

Plan Highlights of Note: 

Arlington: An All-In Destination for Job Creators, Thinkers, Entrepreneurs and Creatives 

Arlington prides itself on being an inclusive community, boasting one of the most diverse populations in the nation. With top-tier educational institutions and a highly educated workforce, the County offers fertile ground for businesses to thrive and innovate. Yet, despite robust economic indicators such as a low unemployment rate and continued attraction of major corporate headquarters like CoStar Group, Arlington still faces headwinds in the commercial development market given nationwide trends of reduced demand for some types of office space. Therefore, our plan also recognizes the importance of being nimble and creative as we look at ways to reposition and reimagine workplaces of tomorrow while also continuing to diversify our economy in response to macroeconomic trends.  

Advancing Culture, Access, Equity and Inclusion Across All Corners of the County 

A community’s diversity contributes to its overall success. Stakeholders have explained that part of Arlington’s authenticity lies in its diversity — of people, businesses (both small and large) and experiences. At the heart of AED’s strategy lies a commitment to inclusion and equity. By weaving these principles into every facet of the plan, ensuring direct alignment with the County’s RACE initiative — from goal setting to implementation and assessment — AED aims to bridge educational, experiential and wealth gaps, ensuring that prosperity and an excellent quality of life is accessible to all residents.  

High-Level Goals and Why They Matter to Arlington 

The plan articulates five overarching goals, each including supporting strategies, representing key areas of focus for Arlington’s economic vitality. 

1. All In on Business Investment: We will build and promote a world-class business environment ready for investment. Creating a supportive business environment is crucial for economic progress. Through proactive engagement with Arlington’s current employers and potential stakeholders, the County can strengthen existing ties and effectively showcase the benefits of conducting business within its borders. This approach not only enhances lead generation and attracts interest from site selectors but also elevates Arlington’s profile on the international stage. 

2. All In on Thriving Commercial Areas: We will reimagine and bolster the vitality of our commercial centers and corridors. Office vacancy presents challenges post-pandemic, especially in Arlington. Yet, the County is poised to foster future workplaces in mixed-use commercial areas while also addressing affordable housing and adding to the housing supply. Balancing these challenges while preserving Arlington’s authenticity and diversity is vital, especially in historically underserved areas. 

3. All In on Tech Jobs: We will attract and retain tech businesses and develop our talent pipeline to cement our position in the tech economy. Arlington shines with its thriving tech firms and strong anchor institutions. With a wealth of highly educated professionals, the County is ready to bolster its startup scene and nurture a fresh wave of entrepreneurs. By crafting a strategy for startup and tech growth, Arlington can draw in and keep the employers, investors and skilled talent needed to cement its status as a tech economy frontrunner.  

4. All In on Our Small Business Ecosystem: We will support the small businesses that make Arlington unique and inclusive. Small businesses add to a community’s unique charm and play a vital role in wealth creation, particularly in historically marginalized areas. In Arlington, 19% of businesses are women-owned, and 22% are owned by residents of color. Fostering an ecosystem that supports small businesses, from start to growth, lowers barriers for new ventures and offers residents of color and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds greater access to opportunities. Thriving small businesses in Arlington also contribute to a strong commercial tax base and job opportunities for all. 

5. All In on Global Arts, Culture and Tourism: We will invest in arts and culture while bolstering our creative and tourism industries. Investing in arts, culture, placemaking, entertainment and tourism marketing is essential for safeguarding and enhancing Arlington’s distinctive global identity. Communities incorporating these elements into their economy can cultivate an ecosystem that nurtures creativity at all levels, enriching the entire community. This approach also reinforces Arlington’s reputation as a destination for innovators, entrepreneurs, artists and visitors alike. 

A Flexible, Collaborative and Adaptive Journey 

Recognizing the fluid nature of economic landscapes, AED’s plan is designed to evolve alongside Arlington, with regular assessments and updates to ensure alignment with emerging needs and opportunities. We invite leaders, businesses and residents to explore our Strategic Plan in its entirety and join us in shaping Arlington’s future. You can also look at our Annual Report video to learn more about AED’s journey and successes over the past year. Let’s continue to go “All In” on Arlington’s success!



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