112811 obama virginia
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on health care reform at George Mason University March 19, 2010 in Fairfax, Va. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Now to a county in the United States where the unemployment rate is just 4.6 percent. The county has attracted the headquarters of six major corporations over the past few months. And it's a county whose neighbor just happens to be Washington, DC.

As Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports, I'm talking about Fairfax County, Va.

John Dimsdale: The President of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Gerald Gordon, knows how to joke about the huge federal sugar daddy right across the Potomac River.

Gerald Gordon: The smartest economic development strategy we ever employed was locating next to the federal government. Brilliant!

The development authority has helped lure some promiment companies that aren't government contractors -- like Hilton Hotels and Volkswagen of America.

Stephen Fuller is with the Center for Regional Analysis. He says those companies want powerful connections on a global scale.

Stephen Fuller: There are a 186 foreign embassies here. It's a good place to connect.

But Gordon recognizes the government's largesse isn't permament.

Gordon: If overall federal procurement declines, then other industries within Fairfax County prop up the economy and sustain it.

He says the new companies like Fairfax County because of its attractive tax incentives and skilled workers.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.