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BISNOW: Newcomers Bolster Prince William County's Development Dreams

In October, two new leaders were announced in the county: The Prince William Chamber of Commerce selected Bob Sweeney as its new president and CEO, and the Prince William Board of County Supervisors selected Chris Shorter as the new county executive.

Board of County Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler said: “Both these individuals will bring strong management skills and incredible backgrounds to support business growth in our community and will only add to Prince William County’s current success.”

When Shorter begins his new role on Jan. 3, he will inherit a top position in the county just as it works to implement its Digital Gateway data center plan and update its comprehensive plan to encourage new development. The county’s political leaders voted 5-2 to approve the Digital Gateway comprehensive plan amendment on November 1st.

Bob Sweeney said its approval is an opportunity for the county to drive revenue and invest in better public services for its residents. "The way I look at it, you can look at cow pastures for a long time and see no tax revenue," Sweeney said. "You can look at a couple of data centers and see millions of dollars annually in tax revenue."

According to Christina Winn, executive director of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, the PWDG "increased capital investment helps to offset some of the burden that’s put on the residential, but it also creates opportunities for parks and libraries and schools,". Winn said the county appears poised to support greater development, "I think it’s clear the board’s direction and where they want to go in terms of creating more capital investment,".

Rick Nishanian, head of the Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, also sees the county as “on the verge” of becoming a regional actor, and said hiring Sweeney was meant to support the county’s rising stature. Nishanian said the Chamber wants to partner with major companies on workforce development as the Digital Gateway and the region as a whole become magnets for the information technology sector. Nishanian also said PW Digital Gateway is "obviously is going to put Prince William County on the map.”

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