An interesting piece in USA Today on the top 25 tech industry job growth jurisdictions in America ended up making the opposite point of its pro-smart-growth title. Currently-urbanizing Montgomery County failed to make the list, and so did the District, which is ostensibly the model MoCo is now following in regards to development and transportation policies. Not even Arlington or Fairfax are on it. Who in the DC region did make the list?
Exurban Loudoun and Prince William Counties. Neither of which is known for nightlife, transit-oriented urban centers, or other amenities that ostensibly draw "the young and the hip" to urban areas. While the article touts an "urban renaissance," the most recent data shows that urban growth has stalled or is going backwards, and the suburbs are now growing faster than cities. Did you know that, when you are using the internet, 70% of your data is streaming through Loudoun County? If anything, the establishment of Loudoun and Prince William as tech growth centers makes the case for an Outer Beltway even stronger, to manage the workers commuting there. It also again shows the foresight in the planning of the Silver Line through booming-but-squarely-suburban Tysons out to Loudoun.
The success of DC's exurbs - listed alongside New York City, San Francisco and other major urban employment centers on this Top 25 - proves the point again that all of the alcohol, nightlife and high-density development in the world won't assure economic development nor job growth. No one would consider Loudoun or Prince William a hot nightlife spot. Yet both are among the 25 most attractive places to skilled tech workers. That's because they have the companies - and most importantly, the jobs. Conversely, think about Las Vegas. Vegas has arguably the best nightlife in America. But young workers are not flocking to Vegas, because it doesn't have the corporate headquarters and jobs.
Jobs are the biggest draw for college graduates, making economic development - and the attraction of major firms with high-wage jobs - far more critical than high-density development or nightlife. That also includes considering what else Loudoun and Prince William are doing right, that Montgomery County isn't.