Fairfax City has long been an engine of economic progress and a hub of commerce in Northern Virginia, and that tradition continues today. Following the turbulence and conflict of the Civil War, the area became a growing commercial force on the back of a booming dairy industry that signaled growth and opportunity. Today, Fairfax is carried instead by a thriving small-to-medium size business community, strong retail base, and growing hospitality market.
Although much has changed over the last two and a half centuries, one thing still holds true; Fairfax City shines as a beacon of growth and opportunity throughout the region, and our future is bright.
The Fairfax Business Community
Fairfax City’s economy is built on a broad range of commercial and business activity with extraordinary levels of small business ownership and creation. This industrial balance helps to insulate the City from economic downturns in specific industries and, coupled with the City’s crossroads location at the intersection of three major highways just 17 miles west of the nation’s capital, makes Fairfax City ideally situated for businesses devoted to services and trade. Additionally, Fairfax City has a strong residential base that includes surrounding residential areas, effectively doubling the official City population as a primary trade area. The Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments estimates the City’s population could grow by as much as 22% over the next two decades, with the vast majority of that growth coming from new households.
Fairfax City is a great place for small and mid-sized businesses, with a variety of commercial space available for offices, retail businesses, and restaurants. The City is dedicated to helping new businesses and startups navigate the crucial first few years of operation, and provides a business-friendly tax environment for long-term comparative advantage. Fairfax City has one of the lowest overall tax rates in Northern Virginia, yet is the second largest per capita contributor to the Virginia sales tax of all jurisdictions in the Commonwealth. Because of these and other factors, Fairfax City is in the top one percent of sole proprietorships per capita in the entire United States.
Proximity to George Mason University, with its potential billion-dollar impact on the local economy and an enrollment projected to grow to 30,000 students at its Fairfax campus alone by 2020, is an important factor for local businesses. In addition to the student body, the university boasts a $300 million payroll and employs 3,400 full-time equivalent faculty and staff. George Mason University’s growth and University-City partnerships benefit local businesses through additional retail sales and drive business to the community through enhanced cultural opportunities.
Innovation, both by Fairfax businesses and Fairfax City, is a key element in the area’s business environment. The Fairfax business community has one of the strongest online presences in the Mid-Atlantic, and the City offers excellent comprehensive online resources for employers, employees, and residents. After taking these factors into account, it is not surprising that Fairfax City was selected for inclusion on Google’s annual list of “Digital Capitals of America” in 2014, named as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s e-City of the Year.
The Mason Enterprise Center and its Small Business Development Center are key to Fairfax City’s innovative footprint, providing the guidance and tangible support to local entrepreneurs to turn their new ideas into developed, profitable enterprises.
Learn more about how Fairfax City is building an innovative business community for the future under Incentives.
Recruiting and Employment
Business owners looking to expand their operations can find a bevy of recruitable and employable human capital in Fairfax City. Impressively, nearly a quarter of citizens over the age of 25 have completed a graduate or professional degree, and over half have completed at least a bachelor’s degree.
George Mason University employs a unique, Industry Focused Approach based on employer feedback in order to ensure all graduates are well-equipped to immediately contribute and bring value to their new firms. Employers interested in recruiting George Mason University students and graduates to their firm should register for Mason’s online database for jobs and internships.
Local Business Resources, Events, and Networking
The Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce empowers members with the vision, leadership, and resources to achieve success, while contributing to the economic growth and quality of life in our business community. The Chamber provides a strong foundational network for your business and the education to help you achieve smart growth and reach your goals. The Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce also hosts seminars, workshops, and mixers throughout the month to build a dynamic and interconnected Fairfax Business Community. A complete list of upcoming events and meetings is available on their site–get connected today!
Business Support Programs
Fairfax City is constantly planning and executing strategic programs designed to support the growth of our business community. Find past, current, and proposed program descriptions under Business Support Programs.