What’s Driving Business in Prince William County

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A good location, a ready access to a well-educated workforce, affordable and available land, good infrastructure and competitive labor costs all add up to making Prince William County an attractive place to locate businesses, according to business leaders from across the region.

“Compared to other localities in the metropolitan area, our land prices are lower; our housing costs are lower; our rental rates are lower. Yet, we have the same access to the workforce, technology and amenities that come with being part of the Northern Virginia economic engine,” Jeffrey Kaczmarek, the executive director of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, said at a recent meeting with members of the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

During the meeting entitled “What is driving business to Prince William County?” the business leaders enumerated other factors that come into consideration when deciding to bring a business to the county.

Brian Benninghoff from Buchanan Partners, a Maryland-based real estate development firm, said the county has very few roadblocks to development compared to surrounding jurisdictions, which can help businesses consider moving to the county. He said that county staff understands its clients and helps solve problems to move “quickly through the process” of doing business.

“The county itself is one of the easiest in the entire metropolitan area in terms of getting permits,” Benninghoff said. “Prince William County is very progressive. They really provide a hands-on approach to help developers with their product and their tenants with opening their businesses. The staff helps you work out and solve issues that may come up. Instead of creating obstacles, they find solutions.”

West Dulles Properties President Mark Hassinger said that with the Interstate 95 and the Interstate 66 corridors running through the county, combined with good transportation within the county and a capable workforce, there is great promise particularly with industrial, warehouse, distribution, and light manufacturing markets. “There’s a lot of factors that work toward a healthy commercial tax base for the county. All of the factors that you look at to be successful on the commercial development side of the equation are all here in Prince William.”

Hassinger went on to say that there is a buzz on the street about Prince William County, particularly in the data center and technology industry markets. He said he believes Prince William County is emerging as a strong player in those high-tech businesses. “There are things happening every day where you hear of a new user coming in. You hear of someone buying a piece of ground that they’re going to position for a data center. The infrastructure is in place here in Prince William County. I think you’re going to see the data center market and technology market begin to take off here.”

Traci Morris-Cole said the proximity to I-95 and the cost of real estate gives the county a large economic advantage that serves to attract government contractors to the eastern end of the county. Defense contractors and federal agencies are key tenants, particularly in the eastern Prince William market according to Morris-Cole.

She also remarked on the quality of transportation infrastructure within the county. “Transportation has definitely gotten so much better in Prince William County. Once you get into the county, the traffic moves a lot faster than it does in some of the other areas [of Northern Virginia].”

Morris-Cole echoed Benninghoff in regard to doing business with county government. She said the county’s way of doing things is not “set in stone.”

“Prince William is not afraid to do things differently,” Morris-Cole said “The supervisors are very proactive, and that’s a big benefit to us in the business community.”

Kaczmarek said the “business pipeline is flowing,” and that over the last three years, $2.5 billion in investment has come through the Department of Economic Development. “I think the market in Prince William County, right now, is as hot as it’s ever been.”


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