Leonsis: Ballston Could Be a Haven for the ‘Creative Class’

by ARLnow.com January 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm 1,974 27 Comments

Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, says Ballston could soon be known as a haven for entrepreneurs and the “creative class.”

Leonsis made the remarks at a launch event Thursday night for the new Ballston Business Improvement District, which has announced a new campaign to brand Ballston as “home to some of the world’s brightest minds and most innovative industries.” The campaign will capitalize on the fact that the community is home to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Tech Research Center, and various science and technology-related companies.

Leonsis, whose Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, said he’s encouraged to see the BID unifying Ballston’s public agencies, private companies and academia around the theme of innovation.

“The community is really coming together to try to stimulate everything about the creative class,” he said.

As part of the BID’s campaign, Leonsis, a former AOL executive, is helping to conduct and underwrite a business competition for entrepreneurs called the Ballston LaunchPad Challenge. He said the winning business idea may receive funding from the $450 million investment fund he set up with AOL co-founder Steve Case.

“We’re here to help and mentor and to help find the next great companies that will start their businesses here and will create employment for residents in Northern Virginia,” Leonsis said.

“Right now there’s this mythology that the only great companies that can get started happen out in Silicon Valley, and that’s not what we adhere to or we believe,” he continued. “We think that there’s a creative class, that there’s unbelievable gifts, talent and infrastructure in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. and Maryland — and we want to help stimulate that. We think that there are great young entrepreneurs walking among us.”

Leonsis said the contest, which is just one component of the BID’s overall branding and business improvement effort, will  pay dividends in terms of stimulating economic activity in the area.

“This is a small part of this overall branding and outreach program, but I think it can be a very important part, because jobs are still the number one issue facing our country,” he said. “There’s no more noble, higher calling for an individual to create a company, see your vision come to life, and to employ people. Families get supported, kids get to go to good schools in the community, you start to shop in the mall, you start to eat in the restaurants, and the money stays within the community.”

“This is very strategic not just for Ballston, but for our country,” Leonsis added. “If we are to make an investment… we want a commitment that you’ll stay in this community that’s treating you and supporting you so well.”

Leonsis said that small business in particular can help “get young people get back to work” and out of their parents’ homes.

“We should never lose sight of the importance of small business,” he said. “Big companies right now retain earnings and shed jobs. Small businesses are creating all of the new opportunities and all of the innovation that’s keeping us competitive against global competition.”

Leonsis started and ended by addressing a topic that was on the minds of many — one concerning the return of dozens of wealthy individuals to the Ballston area.

“Thank you, and let’s go Caps,” he said, concluding his remarks.

Disclosure: The Ballston Business Improvement District is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

  • Martin

    Creative is when my wife stops cheating on me with her coworker! I hope Ted is right though.

    • Wife#whatever

      Creative is when I tricked my husband into thinking I’m sleeping with a coworker to tick him off as revenge for sleeping with his secretary.

  • Hairy Pooter

    Great news!!! Another fluff piece to instigate 100 troll comments. Site is turned to crap. If no news happens during the day please stay dormant allnow. And by the looks of it this town has become very boring lately. Fluff pieces galore.
    – Hairy Pooter

    • Quoth the Raven

      Yet you find the time to not only read the story but comment on it!

      Last time I checked, arlnow is a community website. How is this not community news?

    • CrystalMikey

      How about you stop coming to the site if this bothers you so much? OMG, free resource of local news/happening is FREE!

  • So… Ballston = Brooklyn? I’m all for that. Not everyone likes what’s happening with Clarendon and the kinds of people they attract.

  • JamesE

    Leonsis is alright, now just change the name back to the Bullets.

  • Swag

    The ‘creative class’ can’t afford Ballston.

  • MLK

    So we’re resorting to class warfare — the creatives and non-creatives. My logical thinking, right-brained brothas and sistas UNITE! We shall overcome. I have a dream that one day NoVA will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all brahs are created equal.”

    • drax

      That wasn’t very creative.

    • Artist

      Or accurate. Left brain types are logical, right brain types are creative. Also, most artists are also entrepreneurs – we have to be.

  • Chris

    A “former AOL executive” promoting a technology hub. Oh boy.

  • Wayne Kubicki

    Note the latest developments on the NSF’s possible move out of Ballston:


  • StoneRidge

    He should have allowed his hockey team to be creative rather than locking them out for three months. He was a leading hard liner among the owners. The good will he had in the community can now be contained in a thimble.

  • Joe

    Leonsis is a blowhard and a poor sports owner IMHO. So we should listen to him why?

  • CNote

    This is way cool! I know a bunch of folks who have ideas for startups – what an awesome opportunity to get mentored by Leonsis, and possibly get funded! Great Idea, Ballston BID!

    ArlNow, do you know where you can get an application to submit for consideration?

    • Roxie

      I’m with CNote, regardless of how you feel about Leonsis, this is a good idea that will benefit the community.

      And where would one get the information to submit for consideration?

  • Alex

    Let’s just hope ol’ Leo is right. We’ll need something to fill the commercial real estate up!

  • roquer

    I think Mr. Leonsis is correct about entrepreneurs in Ballston. I think I disagree that Ballston is a haven for creativity. All the creatives that I’ve ever known were near poverty stricken, and if ever there was a place that lots of money is needed just to be there, it’s Ballston!!

  • Wannabe Owner

    Ted is a poor mans Mark Cuban. Also, he eats donuts in his sleep.


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