Thursday, February 21, 2019
MoCo fumbles three more: Blackboard, HalioDX, Idemia headed to Virginia
The moves will bring hundreds of additional high-wage jobs to Fairfax County, and Idemia has promised to add 90 new high-wage jobs to the new HQ. Why did both firms choose Reston over Montgomery County? The answers are the same as usual: lower business costs, and superior infrastructure access in Virginia.
Blackboard CEO and President Bill Ballhaus cited their new location's proximity to Dulles International Airport, which as I've been noting for years, has the variety and frequency of international flights and destinations international businesspeople require. Unlike Northern Virginia, which has implemented several infrastructure projects to speed travel, Montgomery County has refused to build the new Potomac River crossing that would provide direct and quick access to Dulles Airport. In fact, the Montgomery County Council is actively trying to further sabotage our outdated and incomplete transportation system, refusing to build the M-83 Highway and Montrose Parkway East, and promising to lower speed limits on all major commuter routes to 25 MPH - and secondary and neighborhood roads to 15 MPH.
The failure to attract Idemia's HQ was a humiliating defeat for a County Council that has claimed it would make Montgomery County a cybersecurity hub. Instead, Virginia's Secretary of Commerce Brian Ball was the one crowing about the Old Dominion bolstering its dominance in that field with the addition of Idemia. "We rely on innovative companies like Idemia to maintain Virginia’s position as a U.S. leader in this industry,” Ball said in a statement.
HalioDX will join almost 70 biotech firms, laboratories and manufacturing facilities at the VA Bio+Tech Park in Richmond. It's a sad reminder that Virginia is now not only handing our County Council their [briefcases] in every other economic sector, but are rapidly reaching parity with Montgomery's biotech sector. Thanks to past County leaders who served before our elected offices were seized by the Montgomery County cartel in 2002, we had a promising biotech niche in the region. Now, it's only a matter of time before even those firms begin to relocate to Virginia, once they have the critical mass of qualified workers and government incentives.
The canary in the Montgomery County economic development coal mine has been deceased for some time. Our Council not only doesn't know anything about how to attract high-wage jobs and corporate headquarters, but couldn't act even if they did. Their developer sugar daddies, who fund the campaigns of every Council member, don't want corporate headquarters taking up valuable land they could use to profit from luxury apartments.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam hasn't had much reason to smile in recent weeks, and I reckon he appreciates Montgomery County turning his frown upside down reliably several times a month. His two immediate predecessors were legendary for openly mocking Montgomery County officials for their pro-tax, anti-business ideology. By all indications, comedy hour is just getting started at 100 Maryland Avenue.