Centrally located in the heart of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Fairfax City is a warm, diverse community of approximately 24,000 people with a strong and growing economy in the heart of the DC metropolitan area. With a relatively low unemployment rate, high median income, and some of the lowest tax rates in the region, Fairfax City is a great small city where businesses and residents can thrive.
Fairfax City is a great place to do business. The City is in the top one percent of sole proprietorships per capita in the entire United States, illustrating a vibrant small business sector. The strength of Fairfax City’s small business community, including its substantial ecommerce and online business presence, gives it a unique advantage over other cities and towns of its size. This strong online commercial sector was the primary reason that Fairfax City was selected for inclusion on Google’s list of “Digital Capitals of America” in 2014, named as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s e-City of the Year for its modern online presence.
Also earning accolades in 2009 as one the top places in the country “live well” by Forbes magazine, Fairfax City boasts a first-rate public school system as well as a strong residential base that includes surrounding areas, effectively more than doubling the official City population as a primary trade area. This small business community, together with the broad range of business activity taking place in Fairfax City, helps to insulate it from downturns in specific industries.
Opportunities for Business Development and Growth in Fairfax City
Located just 17 miles west of Washington, DC and at the intersection of three major highways, Fairfax City offers numerous opportunities for businesses to grow and develop. With government offices, universities and tourists a strong presence in the region, Fairfax City is ideally situated for businesses devoted to services and trade.
Within the City, small retail businesses flourish. Many of these shops and restaurants are highly specialized, drawing customers from the greater Fairfax County area and beyond. Fairfax City is one of the largest per capita contributors to the Virginia sales tax, demonstrating its importance as a hub of retail activity. Combined with larger regional stores, these businesses are responsible for a significant portion of the City’s annual revenues. Fairfax City has multiple distinct areas of retail activity, including Fairfax Boulevard Corridor, which contains Fairfax Circle, Northfax and Kamp Washington, along with many of the City’s largest office buildings. In addition, the intersection of Main Street and Pickett Road presents multiple retail shopping areas, including Fair City Mall, Pickett Shopping Center and Turnpike Shopping Center. Downtown, residents and tourists flock to Old Town Fairfax for its restaurants, speciality shops and office facilities. Many of the buildings in Old Town Fairfax are historic, offering a charming shopping and dining experience that is geared towards both local residents and tourists alike. These multiple areas for retail development serve as an economic engine for growth throughout the entire region.
Beyond the city limits, George Mason University (GMU), Virginia International University (VIU), and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) provide substantial business opportunities within Fairfax City. GMU has more than 33,000 students and 3,400 faculty and staff, with a $300 million payroll. VIU has nearly 2,000 students at its campus. These three institutions provide substantial opportunities for businesses focused on serving the needs of students, faculty and staff, including cultural, recreation and nightlife activities. Fairfax City has formed a partnership with GMU to expand the facilities and services to support the university and its students, faculty and staff.
Fairfax City offers numerous types of office space for new and established companies. This includes historical buildings in Old Town Fairfax, newer office developments along the commercial corridors, and converted offices. With demand for office space constantly on the rise in Fairfax, the City is implementing policies and programs designed to attract further office development.
Diverse Employment Options
In Fairfax City, residents can take advantage of a wide range of employment opportunities in the services, trades, finance and government sectors. The largest employment sector in the City is the services sector, which supplies approximately 54 percent of the jobs in the City. This includes professional or technical services, healthcare, administrative services and education. Many of these professionals are self-employed or work at small businesses, while others work for large regional corporations such as Fairfax Nursing Center and Zeta Associates.
Following the dominant services sector, the largest employment sector is the trade sector, which supplies approximately 26 percent of jobs in the City. Most of these professionals work in the retail or restaurant business, with a small portion in wholesale trade. Fairfax City’s booming retail services industry offers small speciality shops, fine and casual dining and bigger stores such as the Home Depot for its residents and visitors. Financial services, including insurance, real estate and finance positions, constitutes approximately 5 percent of the City’s employment.
Given its proximity to the nation’s capital, it is unsurprising that many residents of Fairfax City are employed by the government. Approximately 7 percent of all Fairfax City residents work for a federal, state or local government agency, including the Federal Acquisition Service, Fairfax City, Fairfax County, and Fairfax County Public Schools.
Initiatives to Continue Economic Growth
Fairfax City has taken numerous steps to ensure continued development of the City’s economic resources. This includes encouraging office and retail development, revitalizing the historic district, upgrading the City’s bond rating, and encouraging diversity in the local economy, with a strong mix of retail, trade, professional services and other business and job sectors.
With a prime location and a local government committed to economic development, Fairfax City offers a variety of advantages to employers, residents and businesses looking to relocate to Northern Virginia. More information about strategic programs to support Fairfax City’s economic growth can be found at our Business Support Programs page.