Energy giant Exxon Mobil, one of the largest employers in Fairfax County for nearly 30 years, announced Wednesday that it will move thousands of Virginia jobs to its Houston headquarters over the next three years.
The move will cost the county more than 2,000 jobs, officials said, and will vacate the company's 117-acre campus on Gallows Road in Merrifield.
Fairfax officials said they were disappointed by the move but saw it coming. Exxon Mobil has been discussing a relocation for the past several years, they said.
"We've known for a couple of years," said Jerry Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. "They've been studying questions of whether or not they would bring all employees to one campus down in Houston. We at least knew it was a possibility."
The move was no surprise to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell either.
"While disappointing, we've been aware since early in the administration that Exxon planned to consolidate operations in Houston," McDonnell spokeswoman Taylor Thornley said. "Our focus now is ensuring that every possible step is taken to help all those impacted, directly or indirectly, by today's announcement."
Exxon Mobil set up shop in Fairfax in 1984, and instantly had a "huge impact" on the county, Gordon said.
Exxon Mobil said in a statement that the decision to relocate Fairfax employees to Texas was simply "a company decision to consolidate business activities." The Virginia workers would be moved to Houston between 2014 and 2015.
Exxon's massive 385-acre corporate campus in Houston will eventually house nearly 10,000 employees, including workers it's pulling from Akron, Ohio, offices as well as Fairfax, company officials said.
Gordon said he's concerned about jobs leaving Fairfax, but he's more upset that Exxon Mobil itself will be leaving.
"I think the actual number of jobs is not as important as is losing a company like Exxon Mobil," Gordon said. "They've been the best corporate citizens. They've contributed not only money but employees' time to all sorts of good deeds, commissions and boards."
The last major company to pull employees from Fairfax County, Gordon said, was AOL, which left its Vienna offices for Loudoun County in 1996.