Montgomery County's real economic development problem: it's not part of the military economy
The Post has an editorial that Montgomery County needs to get its act together in order to compete with Fairfax County, which by comparison has more residents, more jobs, schools that are almost as good, and lower taxes. See "Montgomery loses its edge."
The basic point of the book is that the Sunbelt's (and Boston's) success was driven mostly by military spending. This is the summary of the book:
Since World War II, America's economic landscape has undergone a profound transformation. The effects of this change can be seen in the decline of the traditional industrial heartland and the emergence of new high tech industrial complexes in California, Texas, Boston, and Florida. The Rise of the Gunbelt demonstrates that this economic restructuring is a direct result of the rise of the military industrial complex (MIC) and a wholly new industry based on defense spending and Pentagon contacts. Chronicling the dramatic growth of this vast complex, the authors analyze the roles played by the shift from land and sea warfare to aerial combat in World War II, the Cold War, the birth of aerospace and the consequent radical transformation of the airplane industry, and labor and major defense corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed, and McDonnell Douglas. Exploring the reasons for the shifts in defense spending--including the role of lobbyists and the Department of Defense in awarding contracts--and the effects on regional and national economic development, this comprehensive study reveals the complexities of the MIC.
It's beyond my skill set to do a full analysis of the economies of Fairfax County and Montgomery County, producing what is called an input-output table analysis, but if one were performed (I got a bad grade in my economics class in college, in my course on international trade, but as the professor pointed out, you can do this kind of analysis on any level of an economy), I would bet that the results would show how much Fairfax County is dependent on military spending.
It's actually scary to consider how much of the US economy is dependent on military spending, how the US spends more money on the military than all other nations combined, and that if the Defense budget is slashed, this will have big implications for the economic success and failure of many communities.