If you've ever flown into Dulles International Airport to visit Washington, D.C., you've been to Loudoun County, Virginia.
The suburban county of 375,000 residents and 521 square miles (1,349 sq.-km.) leads either America or Virginia in a striking number of metrics, making it the ideal location for a variety of businesses.
1. Top Business Investment for Counties of Its Size
When the books close on fiscal year 2018 this summer, Loudoun County will have won more than $6 billion in commercial investment.
"This is the fourth year in a row that we've shattered records from the year before," says Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer.
In fiscal year 2015, Loudoun recorded $1.3 billion in commercial investment, its finest year to date. In 2016, that record fell when the county amassed more than $2.3 billion. For 2017, the winning number hit $3.3 billion.
Asked why companies have spent more than $12 billion over the past four years to do business in Loudoun, Rizer says, "It boils down to five factors. The most important thing is that our Board of Supervisors had a vision to advance this county through economic development. They've kept their commitment to the business community. Loudoun also has a lot of transit-oriented development opportunities, plus a fast-track program for qualified prospects, a talented tech workforce, and a superb quality of life for company employees."
2. Top Median Household Income in the U.S.
At $134,464, Loudoun is the No. 1 county in America for household income – for the 10th year in a row. The reason for that remarkable record is that Loudoun residents are working. More than 76 percent of the Loudoun population over the age of 16 is employed — including more than 68 percent of women.
“This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve shattered records from the year before.”
Many are working in high-paying tech jobs. Loudoun is part of Washington, D.C.'s tech corridor, which has one of the highest concentrations of tech workers in America. More than 12 percent of Loudoun's population works in computer and math-related fields, a proportion higher than even San Jose (11.7 percent), and nearly twice that of San Francisco and Seattle.
Loudoun also has one of the most educated workforces in the nation. Close to 60 percent county residents have a bachelor's degree, almost double the national average.
3. Top Data Center Market in the World
Whether you've been to Loudoun or not, your data certainly has. Up to 70 percent of the entire globe's internet traffic flows every day through Loudoun County, home to the highest concentration of data centers anywhere. For every dollar in local services the Loudoun County government provides to data centers it receives back more than $9.50 in tax revenue, which helps pay for schools, public safety and other quality-of-life factors that increase Loudoun's attractiveness as a place to live, work, play and learn.
4. Top Purchasing Power
A study from the New York-based financial technology company SmartAsset shows that Loudoun residents get more for their money than any place else in Virginia. The study compares median income and cost-of-living data nationwide.
5. Fastest-Growing County in Virginia
Every day, Loudoun County adds an average of 30 new residents, making it the fastest-growing county in the Old Dominion. Nationally, Loudoun is the 20th-fastest-growing out of 3,142 U.S. counties. Loudoun's population is also becoming more diverse; about one out of every four residents was born outside the U.S.
6. Most Wineries and Breweries in Virginia
Loudoun has almost 50 wineries and almost 30 breweries. This has helped it become a tourist destination for the Washington, D.C.-area in particular, and the mid-Atlantic region in general. Wine tours and brew trails contribute to a tourist industry that has an economic impact of more than $1.7 billion.
7. Most Horses and Honey Farms
Loudoun has more than 15,000 horses – the most of any county in Virginia. Its equine industry has a $180 million annual economic impact to the county. Loudoun also leads the state in bees and honey farms.
8. Most Women Farm Owners
The USDA's Census of Agriculture showed that Loudoun has more than 500 women-owned farms, or 36 percent of the farms in the county. Loudoun also has more than 50 Hispanic or Latino-owned farms, again higher than anyplace else in Virginia.
9. Healthiest County in Virginia
For the third year in a row, Loudoun has been ranked the healthiest county in Virginia by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which studies such factors as access to exercise opportunities; low obesity and smoking rates; low rates of medically uninsured and childhood poverty; and a high length-of-life expectancy. Health care is also big business in Loudoun, employing 12 percent of the county's workforce.
10. Safest County in Northern Virginia
Loudoun County has the lowest crime rate out of the nine northern Virginia jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C. area. In a survey of county residents, 98 percent of respondents reported feeling safe in Loudoun.
In 2020, Loudoun will become connected to the nation's capital by commuter rail, with the opening of three new train stations. Riders will be able to board in Ashburn and take a one-seat ride to Dulles International Airport, or all the way into Washington, D.C., with its world-class museums, arts and entertainment. Loudoun has more than 600 acres of transit-oriented development available.
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of Loudoun Economic Development. For more information, contact Buddy Rizer at 1-800-LOUDOUN. On the web, go to www.biz.loudoun.gov.
Gary Daughters is a Peabody Award winning journalist who began with Site Selection in 2016. Gary has worked as a writer and producer for CNN covering US politics and international affairs. His work has included lengthy stints in Washington, DC and western Europe. Gary is a 1981 graduate of the University of Georgia, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Communications. He lives in Atlanta with his teenage daughter, and in his spare time plays guitar, teaches golf and mentors young people.