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Townhouses or Telecomm?

By Greg L | 17 June 2011 | Local Economy, Prince William County | 21 Comments

Guest commentary by Bob Pugh, candidate for the Republican nomination for Coles District Supervisor.

A surprising, but welcome new phenomenon is being seen here and there; only a little at first but hopefully something that will grow.  It is insourcing of jobs and bringing them back to America.  This article on CNN’s website today cites some of the examples.

I attended the CFA Institute’s Annual Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland last month where we heard from investing and economic experts from around the world.  Several mentioned investment in and relocation of jobs to the United States.

At least four reasons explain the slowdown of outsourcing and some jobs coming back to the United States.

The exchange rate of the dollar has been tanking.  A low value of the dollar makes importing goods more expensive, and raises the cost of outsourcing jobs to other countries with now-higher exchange rates.

Production costs are rising in emerging market nations.  As labor and other production costs rise in nations like China and India as their economies develop, along with a weakening U.S. dollar, the attractiveness of outsourcing jobs diminishes further.

U.S. trade deficits have left trillions of dollars in foreigners’ hands.  When Americans import more than they export, the excess dollars are left abroad to be invested somehow.  A great deal, or most, of that investment has been going into U.S. Treasury bonds.

U.S. Treasury bonds are an increasingly risky asset, however, as the U.S. appears unable to get its fiscal house in order and to be following Greece along the same financial path that nation chose.  If you were a foreign investor with lots of U.S. dollars to spend, which would you prefer to own over the long run – U.S. Treasury bonds or a profitable business operating in the U.S.?

This emerging trend is of great importance to Prince William County.  Our Department of Economic Development has been working hard to help attract good employers to Prince William County but can’t keep pace with the deluge of residential construction, any more than the school system can build enough new schools to avoid overcrowding or adequate roads can be built to alleviate congestion.

I’m running against Marty Nohe for the Republican nomination for Coles District Supervisor because Mr. Nohe, backed by tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions mostly from development interests and more campaign money from Fairfax County than from Prince William County, is working hard to keep Prince William County as Northern Virginia’s bedroom while these new jobs go to Fairfax County and elsewhere.

The Washington Council of Government’s own “Region Forward” plan, which Mr. Nohe Marty helped create, envisions the targeted employment centers in Prince William County as having only 2 percent of the region’s total employment by the year 2030.

We can do much better as a community than continue to build row-after-row of townhouses and villages of McMansions, which are virtually always tax-revenue negative.  Someone needs to say “no” to the residential development industry backing Mr. Nohe and “yes” to attracting good jobs and employers that reduce the burdens on our taxpayers, alleviate congestion on our roads, and improve the quality of life in our community.  New economic opportunities are emerging that would benefit Prince William County residents and taxpayers tremendously, but we need leadership on the Board of Supervisors that will change our present course of economic development.

For more information, please visit my website, www.bobforsupervisor.org.

The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.

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  1. Loudoun Insider said on 17 Jun 2011 at 11:57 am:
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    Great post! Finally, another Republican who understands that more houses equals more government and higher taxes. Unfortunately he would automatically be labelled as a RINO in Loudoun County - hopefully the PWCRC gets it.

  2. Patty said on 17 Jun 2011 at 12:03 pm:
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    Unemployment is still bad even in this area. I heard from a source that one agent at the VA unemployment office recieved 90 new cases for just one month.

    What would be your plan to attract businesses without creating some of the problems Fairfax is experiencing i.e. traffic congestion, high residential taxes, etc?

  3. Bob Pugh said on 17 Jun 2011 at 12:55 pm:
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    Patty -

    The first step is, when you are in a hole, stop digging. The Board of County Supervisors must say “no” to any more Avendales or other revenue-negative developments. With the economy improving, and the Washington Council of Government bureaucrats continuing to target Prince William County as the site of new residential development and “affordable” housing with Mr. Nohe’s support, plan to see many more such projects come forward if we don’t elect a balanced growth-oriented Board of Supervisors this fall.

    In attracting good employers, the first and foremost factor they seek is low taxes. Businesses don’t come just to pay into the County’s coffers. When I worked for the County government from 1999 to 2003, I did the fiscal analyses of proposed developments, including the property tax rate reductions on computer equipment that helped us attract some tech businesses and the data warehouses. Keep taxes low and businesses will come. In coming, they generate business, employ people, improve our tax base and pay taxes. We won’t keep taxes low for businesses and residents alike, and maintain our quality of public services, by continuing our decades-long binge of tax revenue-negative residential development.

    The commercial development helps to reduce congestion dramatically. One more person working in Prince William County is one more person not commuting to Fairfax, DC, or somewhere else and adding to the stress on our major roadways. Moreover, a corporate or high-tech campus, or anything else along those lines does not create anywhere near as many vehicle trips per day as would a high-density residential development. These jobs and employers go now primarily to DC, Fairfax and Loudoun. This doesn’t have to be the case.

    Another important point to keep in mind is that according to Virginia Employment Commission data, Fairfax County has only 1.15 potential candidates per job opening while Prince William County has a staggering 9.76. See more detail on the Economic Development page of my website.

    I’m hoping Coles District voters will vote for a change on August 23!

  4. Wineplz said on 17 Jun 2011 at 2:52 pm:
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    Great post! And thank you for the follow up to Patty’s question since it was mine as well.

  5. Bob Pugh said on 17 Jun 2011 at 4:03 pm:
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    Wineplz - my pleasure.

    I’m available to meet with community groups to discuss my ideas and visions for Prince William County’s future in detail, and address everyone’s questions directly in an interactive forum. I think there’s a much better way for our local economy to serve the interests and welfare of the people living here than what we have been doing. Please contact me through the information on my website if you are interested.

  6. Alpha said on 17 Jun 2011 at 7:51 pm:
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    Too bad Bob Pugh didn’t run for chairman.

  7. Freedom said on 18 Jun 2011 at 4:20 am:
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    …but Alpha, if he can take the Coles District, that’s what we really, really need!! :)

  8. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2011 at 12:58 pm:
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    how r u going to stop the big money people who own the land, speculators, from continueing to develope it with the strong support of the Dillon rule? You will be fruitless in your efforts as all other people before you. You cannot trump the power of the state in local land developeing period. Who the heck is going to want to come into pwc to work when it is isolated from fairfax county by gridlock?? We need the godwin extention to 66 to the loudon county pkwy. Braddock road was supposed to it from centreville as was popular tree road before it. It is impossable to be able to get back and forth for meetings here in pwc because of this. Untill this is fixed no private buiseness will want to relocate here.

    building a new highway way out west as is being shoved down our throats by richmond is for the private land speculators who would make a fortune on more developement. We need to tie PWC into the dynamic economy of western Fairfax/ Rt. 7 corridor in loudon by giving us more than 4 lanes of I-66. Better acess to this region would increase current home values.

    The godwin drive extention is block by the army core of engineers due to the outmoded design of cut and fill to cross the bull run. A piered system would enable this project road to connect us to grater prosperity in the county. Period

  9. Bob Pugh said on 18 Jun 2011 at 3:27 pm:
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    Anonymous - I agree that the challenges are daunting but can’t accept that we should just throw in the towel and accept defeat.

    In 2006, we organized citizens and taxpayers to fight Brentswood. We took on Marty, Wally, Sean, developers, and an array of powerful special interests. I considered our chances of winning slim at best, but we did.

    Less than two weeks ago, I spotted approval of the final design of the Purcell Road widening on the Board’s Consent Agenda and notified the citizens living there who had been fighting it. Neither Marty nor staff had told them anything about it. After some irate emails from those citizens, Marty pulled it from the agenda. This project is a textbook example of an unnecessary, expensive developer road. If I’m elected, I’ll fight putting this project back on the agenda ever and work to get just the improvements needed to make the road safer for the people who live along it - NOT expand it into an incredibly expensive, four-lane divided road to open this semi-rural, environmentally sensitive area to massive new development.

    I have a track record of fighting and winning these things.

    I can’t promise what we will win if I am elected Coles Supervisor, but I can promise to give it my best efforts as I did with Brentswood and Purcell Road.

    Don’t you want to elect someone who will at least try to fight for the citizens and taxpayers of Prince William County?

  10. Rob Duecaster said on 19 Jun 2011 at 10:11 am:
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    You got my support, Bob,

  11. Coles District said on 20 Jun 2011 at 9:36 am:
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    Bob Pugh,

    I went to the Report Card you mentioned on your campaign website (nice website by the way… Like the issues), Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth, and found this quote at the top, “In darkness and obscurity, the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail; while only under the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured.” I really like that idea. That caused me to wonder just who belongs to this organization. I looked everywhere on the website but could only found the Name of the founder - you. Considering that “darkness and obscurity” thing, who are its current members? Is there a list somewhere I missed? Do you have meetings occasionally?

  12. Jay Donaldson said on 20 Jun 2011 at 1:19 pm:
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    If all one needed to do to attract business is lower taxes, then there wouldn’t be a single business locating in Fairfax, DC, or anywhere in MD! We have the lowest tax rates in the region already. Clearly you are oversimplifying the issue of economic development.

    As for development, you can’t say we need community parks, better roads, etc., demand lower taxes, and oh by the way, we don’t want private developers to come in either. You have to chose…raise taxes to pay for the amenities we want in this County or let the private sector build them. Nobody is building altruistically! The developers will build schools, roads, parks, etc. if there is a profit in it for them. If you don’t want them building it, then what is your plan? And don’t say cut more government…the BOCS has been cutting gov’t. for the past four years. I’m all for smaller gov’t., but I don’t think NO government is a solution. What specifically would you cut? How (specifically again) would you make certain schools, roads and parks are funded?

    What would you do differently with econoimc development - considering PWC is already recognized as the top place for job growth by CNN Money? There is a LOT of work to do to add jobs and investment to the community, but if you really believe all we need to do is reduce taxes even more, you are fooling yourself and trying to fool voters. Check out the tax rates of local jurisdictions and then you’ll realize, that’s not our problem. The problem is that many companies want to be inside the beltway and/or near a Metro stop. You can lower taxes all you want, but those companies still won’t come here if their primary need is to be inside the Beltway or near a Metro! We are getting new jobs coming to PWC. They may not be the high-profile jobs that are looking to be beltway-centric, but I see new jobs, and actually think economic development is one of the areas where PWC Government is on the mark!

  13. Bob Pugh said on 20 Jun 2011 at 2:14 pm:
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    Coles District - nothing “darkness and obscurity” here. I state clearly on the bio page of my website that I’m a co-founder of Prince Willam Citizens for Balanced Growth. It was an outgrowth of our efforts fighting Brentswood in 2006. I’m very proud of what we accomplished then and what PWCBG has done since. Prior to declaring my candidacy I resigned from PWCBG and now have nothing to do with the content of the website or the supervisor report card. Moreover, the other co-founder is not even a Republican, but an Independent. I am not a spokesperson for and do not represent PWCBG at this point; it does not represent me; and I suggest that any questions about it be asked through the contact information provided on the website.

    In addition, I have resigned from the Board of the Prince William Symphony Orchestra. I had served on their Board since 2004, and as President from 2006 to 2010. I do not think it is ethical for someone who serves or seeks to serve in an office with appropriation authority for funds that might go to an organization to serve in any leadership capacity with that organization. As Supervisor, I would be accountable to the entire Prince William County performing arts community and all of it’s members rather than any one group.

    Jay - I’ve already addressed those points. Please see the Economic Development page of my website.

    Thank you both for your questions.

  14. Bob Pugh said on 20 Jun 2011 at 2:37 pm:
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    Jay - I’ll add one more than thing. I agree that our Department of Economic Development is doing a great job. Martin Briley and his team deserve a lot of credit for the work they have been doing. It’s not Martin and his department that is the problem. No one can keep up with deluge of residential development that has been coming for decades and weakening the commercial/residential mix in our tax base. In addition, the problem is more about preventing taxes from rising further than tax cuts (even though I think there is still room for more savings in the budget, and more tax cuts). The residential development is mostly tax revenue negative. The more unbalanced our tax base becomes (increasing the ratio of residential to commercial), the higher taxes must go just to keep pace with the quality of services we enjoy.

  15. Jay Donaldson said on 20 Jun 2011 at 2:55 pm:
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    Mr. Pugh…no you did not address my points on your Web site. Your response therefore leads me to the assumption that you have no real plan for economic development.

    You provide good points regarding wage rates and the fact that the PWC population largely has to commute to secure higher wage jobs. What you fail to do is explain your solution, which are the points I raise above.

    I am tired of politicians running for office complaining about all the problems of the world without offering solutions. It is clear that you are following the same tired pattern of campaigning. I do not live in Coles, and I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I do grow tired of those who fail to recognize the positive aspects of this community!

    You are correct. We need to continue to attract more high-wage jobs. There is a huge hill to climb before those jobs outpace the vast number of retail jobs that exist if we want to raise the wage rate of the County compared to the Commonwealth. Consider the number of “high wage” jobs that would have to be added to the County to offset the retail jobs. It’s astronomical. The real key to economic development is to help employers come to realize the skilled and educated workforce that exists here in PWC. We also need to help them realize that they can attract far more employees because of the reverse commute pattern. I have friends who work in Prince William and commute from Arlington, Alexandria, Chantilly, and Springfield. It takes them no time at all b/c traffic is going the other way. I get a 2-hour drive into DC…so believe me, I get the fact that we need more jobs in PWC.

    The key, I believe, is illustrating how employers can attract far more people by locating here than in the beltway. It’s not about taxes…It’s about creating awareness.

  16. Bob Pugh said on 20 Jun 2011 at 3:58 pm:
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    Jay - I don’t see where we disagree on many of these points. You make some excellent points. As I wrote above, the two key actions we need are to stop digging deeper into the hole we’re in of excessive residential development so good commercial can catch up and improve our tax base, and to keep taxes low. Of course there are many other things we need to also such as maintaining quality public schools and providing good transportation. But that brings me back to my original point about how difficult those things are to do when we can’t keep up with all of the new residential development.

    Marty and I have discussed debating and he told me that Rob Clapper at the Chamber of Commerce is organizing a candidate forum. I told Marty that I would be delighted to participate. I’ll discuss economic development there also.

    I do take exception to your implying that I don’t recognize the positive aspects of our community. I’ve lived here since 1996, started my business here, have volunteered extensively in many roles in our community (please see the bio page on my website), and encouraged my entire immediate family to move here. My only sibling and his wife are now PWC residents, and my mom lived here from the time my father died until she passed away last September. I have three children attending PWC public schools. I’m a Charter Founding Member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. And, by the way, I’m putting myself forward as a candidate for Supervisor, a job that pays a lot less than my professional field, to make the community even better. What else do I need to do to convince you that I see all of the positive things our community offers?

  17. Coles District said on 20 Jun 2011 at 5:15 pm:
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    You co-founded this group and are using It as a reference in your campaign. Who else is a member is a simple question. When I ask my Supervisor (or prospective supervisor) a simple question, I expect a simple answer… Not to get passed off to someone else. If membership (or even officers) were listed on the website, I wouldn’t have an issue. It’s that “darkness and obscurity” thing.

    So (to narrow scope)… Who were the officers of this group when you formed it (or, who were you hanging around with)? That tells me a lot about your philosophy regarding land use and other issues important to the Coles District… And the people you will be listening to should you get elected.

    For the record, I am a registered voter in the Coles District. I think it’s great you are posting here so we can get to know you (thanks to Greg for hosting)… But I don’t know you yet.

  18. Coles District said on 20 Jun 2011 at 5:27 pm:
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    By the way… A debate hosted by the PW CC s a great idea!

  19. Bob Pugh said on 20 Jun 2011 at 7:30 pm:
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    Coles District - That’s a fair question.

    Ralph Stevenson (an independent) and I were the co-founders of PWCBG in 2006 and we focused on Brentswood. Many others helped with distributing literature and other tasks in that effort to stop Brentswood, but we were the leaders. Chad Hansen helped with IT and website issues. I’m sure most people who were around back then remember Ralph, and perhaps Chad. After the Brentswood fight was over, we reconstituted PWCBG with the same name but a new focus on balanced growth in general, and addressed issues such as proffers and the Rural Crescent. It’s main purpose after Brentswood was for Ralph and I to publicize our research and views on balanced growth. Large organization with a massive membership? No. Effective means for two (perhaps a little geeky) guys to get out their research? Yes. Were we successful in the Brentswood fight? Absolutely.

    If what you really want to know is if any candidates were involved in it’s founding or management, the answer is no. False accusations were made back then that PWCBG was a front for Corey, but a review of the trends in the supervisor report cards (still available on the website) should put that canard to rest. For example, one of the PWCBG litmus test issues in the supervisor report card since Brentswood was Avendale, which Corey supported. We criticized him for that decision. Corey played no role in creating PWCBG, and it has never been part of any of his, or any other candidate’s campaign. Allegations were also made that PWCBG was a front for Gary Friedman - again nonsense. Ralph and I actually addressed all of this in a lengthy thread on BVBL back in October of 2007. Ralph and I talked with Corey, Gary and anyone else who would listen to what we had to say. However, no candidate has ever had a leading or decision-making role in PWCBG.

    While a candidate, I will be involved with PWCBG in no way, including working on website content or the supervisor report card. Now it’s Ralph’s show, along with whomever he choses to work with. Regarding whom I will be listening to should I get elected, Ralph will certainly be counted in that group. PWCBG will not be endorsing me or any other candidate, and any candidate is welcome to draw upon the information posted there.

  20. Coles District said on 20 Jun 2011 at 8:17 pm:
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    Good answer… Thanks. I look forward to a debate so I may learn more about you.

  21. Anonymous said on 21 Jun 2011 at 7:14 pm:
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    I dont see that u have any vision other than the rear view mirror! Rt.1 in woodbridge has a vre station. The area is filled with acreas of underutilised archaic large strip malls. Why not create a grid road network and condem the whole area and let is prosper with highrise developement? Get your balls up and demand the state to widen rt.1 in fairfax! This is the spot for us to attract big buiseness with belvior up the road and vre? Instead we have an Aldies that needs parking for 20 with a parking lot for 200. What a wast of economic potential.

    I mean when you enter pwc off of rt 1, it is definately not a place to go. What a slum. Areas of Harleem are better to be than here nowadays. You represent the 5 acrea lot owner who is a nimby who could care less for the community unless it affects them directly. I.E. taxws period. As long as there kids go to majority white schools in there district they could give a rats behind about the rest of the system.


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