The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
As part of her State of the County speech to the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, County Board Chair Libby Garvey outlined concerns raised by former Delegate Rob Krupicka.
Krupicka experienced frustration with various county processes as he worked to open a Sugar Shack Donuts location on Columbia Pike. For example, Krupicka noted it took six trips to get approval for the sign alone.
In addition to the cumbersome sign process Krupicka called for improvements in other areas, including more coordination between county offices. Krupicka expressed a real concern that County offices do not appear to understand each other’s role. Krupicka rightly said, “That is crazy, as the small business person shouldn’t have to be an expert on government process, the process should be designed to be easy.”
Krupicka called for the ability to submit both applications and payments online, saying “Payments have to be made by mail or in person rather than online and for some things you can’t move forward without payment, so that means waiting in line in the planning office for hours to get your name called so you can hand a check to somebody.”
On this issue of working with the county online, it really is disappointing that Arlington County cannot get it right. Our government often touts its “world class community” status. And the County has made a commitment to the ConnectArlington project to bring high speed fiber to the government and businesses. Receiving online applications and payments from people who want to run a business here should be a simple thing that we could have been getting right a long time ago.
It is no surprise really that Krupicka said it was easier to open his business in Alexandria. This observation should be taken into account as the Board continues to look at the vacancy rate in Arlington – something Garvey also discussed in the speech.
Garvey noted investments in economic development activities. But we better start getting get the basics right first and take practical steps to ensure Arlington really is open for business. You simply cannot make it harder and more expensive to start and run a business in Arlington than your neighbor in Alexandria and expect to win in the competition for new businesses, let alone keep the ones you already have.
Kudos to Garvey for calling attention to Krupicka’s experience. But anyone who has run for County Board in Arlington and had frank conversations with small business owners would have heard these concerns years ago. It’s unfortunate that it took a former Democrat office holder, from Alexandria, to get the Board’s attention.
Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.