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Program to Help Locals Launch Businesses

by Katie Pyzyk — February 1, 2013 at 11:30 am 630 7 Comments

Arlington Economic Development logoArlington Economic Development (AED) has announced plans for a new program to help out local entrepreneurs with questions regarding the launch of a new business.

AED is launching an “Entrepreneur in Residence” (EIR) program, which will allow Arlington business owners to get advice, specifically tailored to their startups, from fellow entrepreneurs. Each EIR will serve for six months to one year and will provide regular office hours for counseling other startups in exchange for office space at AED.

That this is a county-sponsored program is unique, AED says. EIR programs are more commonly found in universities and large corporations.

“Having entrepreneurs on hand who’ve faced the same issues and succeeded to guide business leaders of tomorrow is just the type of program that has helped Arlington gain its reputation as the place for startups to succeed,” said Jennifer Ives, Director of Business Investment for Arlington Economic Development.

Will Fuentes and Cary Scott, co-founders of Arlington based tech startup Lemur Retail, will serve as the first EIRs.

“We’ll be able to help with non-traditional questions, like pitching to venture capitalists or how to effectively use social media,” Scott said. “We’ve been there.”

In addition to providing office hours to meet with entrepreneurs, Fuentes and Scott will host quarterly workshops and panel discussions on topics relevant to the entrepreneur community. Possible topics include raising money, pitching to investors, pitching to the media, business strategy and branding, among others.

“We’ve learned. We’ve made the mistakes, and we’re looking now to share that with other exciting startup companies,” said Fuentes.

In addition to AED’s efforts, the new Ballston Business Improvement District is also making a push to attract startup firms and entrepreneurs. Last month the BID announced an entrepreneurship contest that will provide mentorship and other resources to budding business owners. Later, at a launch event announcing the contest, billionaire and BID supporter Led Leonsis said that encouraging entrepreneurship can create jobs and stimulate economic activity in the area.

AED believes the Entrepreneur in Residence program will complement its existing services, such as the BizLaunch small business assistance network. It reports helping as many as 4,000 startups and small businesses each year.

  • Don

    What about EXISTING business? Like those ArlNow reports are going out of business? Two store owners in the B-R Corridor told me they are quitting because business is stagnant and rents keep rising.

    • SomeGuy

      The majority of Arlington Economic Development’s programs, many of which are free, are usually open to all. Most are not exclusive to new businesses. And even this particular offering doesn’t appear to be exclusive to startups, despite being more tailored to them.

  • Jake

    If you business is stagnant in the B-R corridor, you probably should go out of business, because you are underperforming. The free market will replace that stagnant business with a growing one, which will hire more employees, pay more taxes, and enrich the owners.

  • atozwriter

    I wonder if this is only for brick-and-mortar businesses. Will they help with an Etsy shop?

  • Ashton Heights

    My experience is probably typical. When I started up my own consulting business some years ago, I was amazed that I had to pay Arlington County tax based on my gross income. In addition, I had to pay property tax on all my business equipment, ignoring depreciation. When I asked what I got in return for all these taxes, the answer was “Arlington County has great schools.” I said, “No. What I mean is, does Arlington County offer any help with marketing, operation issues, etc. etc.?” The answer was “Arlington County has great schools.”
    Looks like things haven’t changed.

  • jacsa

    Ashton Heights thanks for your honest comments. This is the type of information I want to know before starting a business in Arlington.

    • alexandriabusinessowner

      jasca, almost every government entity, especially in Virginia, has taxes on gross income, and collects property tax on equipment. As far as support, I would say that unless you are willing to pay money, it is rare that a governmental enitity will give you support or help. Alexandria has some great ways to market, but they all cost money even when they receive government support. Yes. Alexandria has great schools. enough said.

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