- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Fairfax County sent representatives from its Economic Development Authority to Mexico this week to try to persuade Mexican corporations to locate in the county.

Foreign companies have been helping to make Fairfax one of the fastest-growing segments of the Washington area’s real estate market.

This was the first time Fairfax County has sent anyone to Mexico to talk with companies expanding in the United States.

“Our goal is to place Fairfax County on the radar screen of Mexican companies when they decide to expand into the U.S. market and create jobs here,” said Gerald L. Gordon, president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

More than 325 foreign-owned firms operate in Fairfax County. The Economic Development Authority has representatives in Bangalore, India; Frankfurt, Germany; London; Seoul; and Tel Aviv.



About 3.75 million square feet of Fairfax County’s 102 million square feet of office space is taken up by foreign firms, according to the Economic Development Authority.

County officials tell the foreign firms Fairfax County offers them advantages of a sophisticated telecommunications system, proximity to the business and politics of the nation’s capital and a highly skilled work force.

Despite the benefits they bring, there is little risk that foreign firms will overtake the business of U.S. corporations in Northern Virginia, according to some real estate executives.

“There’s no harm in them,” said John K. McIlwain, senior fellow for the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit real estate research organization. “It’s good to have them there.”

Nevertheless, “Fairfax County is really about the federal government,” he said. “The U.S. government contracting with foreign companies will continue to be there, but it will be limited.”

Much of Fairfax County’s recent outreach effort has been directed at Asian countries, particularly South Korean technology companies.

Fairfax County was the only U.S. county represented at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting three weeks ago in Busan, South Korea.

Five South Korean firms opened offices in Fairfax County in the third quarter of 2005, raising the total from South Korea to 56. They include 3S Chemical Inc., Globaldawin, Intotech Inc., Joo Hoong and JIRIS USA.

JIRS USA is located at the Fairfax County BioAccelerator in Springfield. The other four companies are housed at the Korea Business Development Center in Tysons Corner, home to eight other Korean firms.

JIRIS USA, a biometrics company that makes iris scanning-identification technology, is seeking business among federal agencies and contractors.

In other news …

• Bethesda-based LaSalle Hotel Properties is acquiring the District’s Holiday Inn Downtown for $44.6 million.

LaSalle said it would invest $21 million in the 212 luxury rooms at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The deal is scheduled to close by Jan. 31.

The company’s other holdings in the D.C. area include the Lansdowne Resort in Loudoun County.

• The Bomstein Agency, a D.C. real estate advertising firm, has been hired to handle advertising and marketing for the Maryland and D.C. divisions of Drees Homes, a Fort Mitchell, Ky., home builder. Terms were not disclosed.

• Property Lines runs on Wednesdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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