2012 Arlington Business Leaders Study

The 2012 Business Leaders Study set out to assess the importance of the county’s transportation network as a component of the overall business environment, find out how well that system is serving the business community, and identify areas for improvement.

Through a survey and focus groups, we asked executives, human-resource professionals, and developers to tell us about:

  • The general business climate in the county.
  • The importance of the transportation system to that climate and their business.
  • The transportation benefits that they offer to their employees and the county services that they use.
  • Their knowledge of transportation services available in Arlington County, whether or not they take advantage of them.

Our 2012 survey was similar to that carried out in 2007, and we compare findings from the two surveys where possible.


Business Leaders Think that Arlington County is a Great Place to Live and Work

2012 Arlington Business Leaders Study Business Climate Rating
  • Of those surveyed, 86 percent rate the county’s quality of life as “very good” or “excellent.”
  • When asked about the future of Arlington’s quality of life, 95 percent of respondents thought that it would get better or stay just as good over the next five years.
  • 73 percent gave “very good” or “excellent” ratings to the county’s business climate, which is down from the 88 percent that said the same in 2007. However, 58 percent of local leaders still rate that climate as superior to the rest of the Greater Washington region and 70 percent said the same when asked to compare Arlington with the rest of the United States. Given these results, we believe that the drop is due more to macroeconomic changes rather than Arlington-County-specific reasons.
  • Looking to the future, a majority of respondents thought that the business climate would improve or stay the same over the next five years.

Arlington’s Transportation System Positively Impacts the Bottom Line for Individual Businesses, which Aids Business Attraction and Retention2012 Arlington Business Leaders Study Transportation Benefit to Bottom Line

  • Without prompting, 22 percent of respondents gave accessibility and transportation as a reason for rating the business climate they way they did. Only responses related to the county’s great amenities came up more frequently (27 percent).
  • As in 2007, “quality of transportation system” remained the most important factor in when looking for business locations; 86% of respondents rated it as “important” or “very important” in the 2012 survey.
  • Arlington County continues to perform well in delivering a quality transportation system, with 76 percent of respondents rating it as “good” or “very good.” This figure is down slightly from the 79 percent figure seen in 2007.
  • Over two-thirds of respondents said that the transportation system positively impacts their “ability to recruit employees,” their “customers’ ability to reach [the] business,” and to “access [a]…broad workforce.”
  • Though hotel managers were a small share of respondents, they indicated that the transportation system has a positive impact on driving occupancy as well as room rates.
  • No more than 16 percent of respondents said that the county’s transportation system negatively impacted any aspect of doing business.
2012 Business Leaders Study Quotes

Business Leaders Give Arlington High Marks for its Provision of Transportation Options

  • 62 percent of respondents gave “[a]vailability of multiple different transportation options” “very good” or “excellent” ratings.
  • A majority gave the same marks to taxi availability and 49 percent said the same about the ease of getting around without a car.

More Firms Are Offering Transportation Programs and Benefits than in 2007

  • Whether its flexible work schedules, teleworking arrangements, SmarTrip cards, or pre-tax transportation accounts, a greater share of business leaders reported that transportation benefits were available to employees than in 2007. Only car/vanpool reserved parking was reported as available less frequently in 2012 (decreasing from 22 percent to 20 percent).
  • Eight of 14 transportation programs or benefits are in place for at least half of the organizations where respondents work.

Arlington Business Leaders Want to See Continued Investment in Transportation2012 Business Leaders Study Support for Transportation Investment

  • 79% of those surveyed consider it important or very important for Arlington County to invest in improving the transportation system.
  • 98% of developers said that maintaining the transportation system was important.

Arlington County Can Do More to Communicate its Transportation Policy Goals, Raise the Profile of Arlington County Commuter Services, and Help Companies Expand Services

  • As in 2007, many business leaders were not aware of Arlington County Commuter Services or did not take advantage of Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) to help with implementing transportation programs and benefits.
  • Among those organizations that offered them, ridematching assistance and guaranteed ride home programs were the two services that firms said they would have offered without the kind of outside assistance offered by Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP). ATP may want to focus on assisting companies with these programs.
  • Our survey asked not only which services firms were offering, but also which services that leaders might be interested in offering. The greatest opportunities for growth were found in pre-tax transportation accounts, guaranteed-ride-home programs, compressed-work-week schedules, ridematching, preferential carpool parking, and financial benefits for carpoolers.
  • Only 11 percent of business leaders were aware that Arlington County intends to keep rush hour traffic at no more than 5 percent above 2005 levels to 2030. However, 61 percent of those surveyed thought that it was important to achieve this goal once they learned of it.


  • Seven focus groups conducted in late 2011 that separately targeted retail and small businesses, hotels, “c-level” executives, and real-estate developers. In total, 34 individuals participated.
  • A 15-minute Self–Administered Online Survey administered between August and November 2012. In total, 212 individuals completed the survey. Unlike the 2007 survey, there was no paper survey option.
  • The Survey Population was drawn from a list of 1,766 business leaders. Contact information came from de-duplicated lists provided by Arlington Transportation Partners, Arlington Economic Development, retail partners, and a separate list of contacts with 17 real-estate development firms.
    Potential participants were contacted by e-mail, post, and telephone in coordination with the Ballston, Crystal City, and Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).
  • Approximately 700 individuals could be contacted, yielding a response rate of roughly 30%.
  • Respondents represented a mix of organization types and locations.


Summary Presentation (PDF)
Summary Presentation Re-packaged for Arlington County Economic Development (PDF)
Full Presentation(PDF, Slideshare)
Focus Group Presentation (PDF)
Survey Questionnaires (PDF)
Data Tables (PDF)

Contact the Mobility Lab for more information.

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