Jeff Kaczmarek, Executive Director of Prince William County Dept. of Economic Development, opened the “Enhancing the Commercial Development Process” meeting by stating a clear-cut goal: “Make Prince William County the most business-friendly community in the DC metro area.” The meeting then focused on plans for achieving this goal, highlighting past successes and potential areas for growth. It was jointly hosted by Econ. Dev. and the Dept. of Development Services, with business leaders and the Prince William Chamber of Commerce invited to participate.
Among the processes in the pipeline is the County’s first-ever comprehensive competitive analysis, using an outside consultant to determine market competitiveness both here in the DC metro area and globally. Other projects in the works include:
- Life sciences strategy assessment, developing new strategic objectives
- New economic development tracking system
- PWC strategic plan
Also proposed is the addition of three project management positions at a cost of $250,000/year. The Development Services Department proposes to fund these through a 12% increase in commercial building fees. The department is fee-funded.
In 2008, the County developed an innovative project management system to more efficiently guide commercial projects through the development process. This proactive approach met with with great success. However, as the recession took its toll and plan submissions declined (along with County revenue), the department scaled back, cutting its staff of nearly 250 to about 125.
Fast forward to 2012, and the good news is that new plan submissions are on the rise– 384 were submitted in Jan., 1049 in March– a positive economic indicator. (See the chart at bottom of page.) The bad news is this that given the reduced staff size, the sudden influx resulted in a six-month back log. To combat this, department began filling and reassigning staff, creating and filling growth positions, hiring contract plan reviewers and temporarily converting to a reactive format. Read more here.
Wade Hugh, Director of Development Services will be speaking at the next meeting of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee meeting, Dec. 12, 8:00 am at Chamber HQ, 9720 Capital Court, Suite 203, Manassas. All members are welcome to attend to learn more about the changes taking place in the development process and the proposed fee increase. Additionally, each of the three local jurisdictions will give an overview of the 2013 legislative priorities for the General Assembly. To RSVP, contact Nancy Hiteshue at firstname.lastname@example.org or 571.765.1875.