FCEDA President/CEO Gerald Gordon announces retirement; will take university posts in South Carolina
Fairfax County, Virginia – Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., whose work as leader of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to build and diversify the county’s business community and economy led its transformation into one of the world’s top business locations, announced today that he will retire at the end of this calendar year.
Starting in January, Gordon will be serving as a fellow in the College of Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley Center for Livable Communities, where he will be working with faculty, staff and students to support the economic and cultural vibrancy of the City of Charleston, S.C. He also will teach in the college’s Master of Public Administration program. Additionally, Gordon will be consulting with institutions in northern Virginia and will serve on a local board.
Gordon has been with the FCEDA since 1983 and has led it since 1987, during which time office space in Fairfax County grew from 32 million square feet to more than 117 million, making it the second-largest suburban office market in the nation – and one with 10 Fortune 500 headquarters and top companies in a broad set of industry sectors including information technology, aerospace and defense, cybersecurity, data analytics, financial services and personalized medicine.
At the same time, jobs in the county grew from 243,000 to more than 600,000. As a result, the real estate tax rate has decreased from $1.47 to $1.15.
During Gordon’s tenure, the FCEDA has had numerous successes and has pioneered many strategies copied by other economic development organizations, including:
- creation of a division for small and minority business development to attract and retain businesses started by individuals of all backgrounds. Today Fairfax County has a large and growing minority business community, and more than 100 companies a year make the Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing entrepreneurial businesses.
- creation of a division to attract and retain foreign-owned businesses. This included opening offices in in global markets to reach businesses about expanding into the U.S. market. Today, the FCEDA has offices in London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Bangalore, and southern California.
- the attraction of the headquarters of corporate giants representing a diversified industry base such as Northrop Grumman, Capital One, Volkswagen North America, Hilton, Bechtel and Intelsat.
The FCEDA is led by a seven-member Commission (board) appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova and FCEDA Chairwoman Catherine Lange congratulated Gordon for his work on behalf of the county.
“Throughout the past 30 years Jerry Gordon has been on the leading edge for moving Fairfax County into the world-class business location it is today,” Bulova said. “No one is a fiercer advocate for Fairfax County and I will personally miss working with him.”
“On behalf of the FCEDA board, I want to express our deep gratitude for Dr. Gordon’s years of service,” Lange said. “His visionary leadership propelled the great success that Fairfax County has achieved over decades, expanding our economic base and bringing with it high quality work and life to thousands in the County. We will need very big shoes to follow in Dr. Gordon’s footsteps.”
Gordon said a number of factors contributed to his successful tenure.
“Without any doubt, my greatest accomplishment has been the assembly of an extraordinary team of professionals who – individually and collectively – represent the finest economic development team in America, perhaps in the world. We have been extremely fortunate to have been strongly supported by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the FCEDA Commission, and the business community at large.”
Gordon has received widespread recognition for his work in Fairfax County. In 2010, Virginia Business magazine named him its “Virginia Business Person of the Year.” That year he also received the James Rees Award from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. Since 2013, Virginia Business has tapped Dr. Gordon for its annual “50 Most Influential Virginians” list.
In 2015, the International Economic Development Council awarded Dr. Gordon its Jeffrey A. Finkle Organizational Leadership Award that is presented to someone has “continuously led the same public or non-profit economic development organization with integrity, tenacity, and a philanthropic spirit for at least 15 years.” He has also been recognized with lifetime achievement awards by the Israel Bonds organization, the Catholic University of America, and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber.
Gordon holds a bachelor’s degree from The Citadel, a master’s degree from The George Washington University, and a doctorate in international economics from The Catholic University of America. He is the author of 13 books on strategic planning and economic development. His most recent book is “Understanding Community Economic Growth and Decline: Strategies for Sustainable Development” (Routledge Press, 2018). Other books include “The Economic Survival of America’s Isolated Small Towns” (CRC Press, 2015), “The Economic Viability of Micropolitan America” (CRC Press, 2013), “Reinventing Local and Regional Economies” (CRC Press, 2011) and “The Formula for Economic Growth on Main Street America” (CRC Press, 2009).
In the last decade Gordon has chaired the boards of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, the Board of Governors of the Tower Club, the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools and the George Mason University Honors College. He also has served on the board of the International Economic Development Council, of which is he is a Fellow Member and Honorary Life Member.
Time magazine called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Business growth and innovation helps Fairfax County fund one of the nation’s most prestigious school systems and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses state-of-the-art infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled and well-educated workforce.
The FCEDA Commission will lead a search for Gordon’s successor.