Thursday, August 03, 2006

Washington, DC: Not as Far as You Think

Virginia is booming, right on the doorstep of the Pittsburgh region. The outer county schools of Northern Virginia should be bursting at the seams by 2010, while the areas closest to Washington, DC experience a decline. The migration to the suburbs and exurbs is overtaxing what was recently rural.

Virginia is the closest to Pittsburgh of the high-growth states, behind only California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina during the 2000-2005 period. Since proximity is such an important variable in explaining migration patterns, Eastern West Virginia, Western Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania are likely to experience the influx of the NOVA overflow. Cheap real estate in good school districts should continue to serve as magnets for the westerward migration of the DC sprawl.

Since the Mon Valley can't find any love in Allegheny County, I suggest this region start looking towards DC and away from Pittsburgh. I don't think Uniontown will turn into an exurb of DC, but some industry will relocate to outer counties of Northern Virginia, putting a highly-skilled workforce and wealthy demographic just a three hour drive from Southeastern Fayette County. At the very least, there might be some weekend tourism dollars waiting to be gobbled up.

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