We asked Alex about his startup and its business model, and how he got his start. This podcast was recorded live at 1776 in Crystal City. Thank you to the Chamber and our podcast sponsor, Crystal City.
Alex Villanueva launched Sprynt in June, offering free rides in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Within five days, the new app had been downloaded more than 700 times, and today Sprynt vehicles are a familiar sight in the corridor, going up and down Wilson and Clarendon Blvds all day long.
The event will take place on Tuesday, October 24 in front of an audience at 1776 in Crystal City. Villanueva will discuss his personal story and how he turned his business idea into a reality. Registration is $25.
ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will be the program’s moderator and will lead the discussion with Villanueva. Audience members will be able to ask questions during a Q&A segment that will not be recorded.
The event also features networking opportunities and food served from Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And for those unable to attend, the interview will later be published online via ARLnow’s podcast, 26 Square Miles.
The evening’s agenda is as follows:
- 5-5:30 p.m.: Registration and open networking
- 5:30-6:15 p.m.: Live recorded podcast
- 6:15-6:30 p.m.: Q&A (not recorded)
- 6:30-7 p.m.: Networking reception
Crystal City Development Plan Filed — Developer JBG Smith has filed a site plan application for what it’s calling “North District” — a multi-block redevelopment in Crystal City that will include a new movie theater, grocery store and Metro station entrance. The residential-heavy development is bounded by Crystal Drive, Route 1, 15th Street and 18th Street S. [Washington Business Journal]
Chamber Backs Staff’s VRE Recommendation — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce says county staff is right to recommend the placement of a revamped Crystal City VRE station closer to Metro. The staff recommendation “best positions Crystal City and greater Arlington County as a regional multi-modal transit hub,” as compared to a placement option preferred by local condo residents who are concerned about train noise. [InsideNova]
DCA Noise Complaints — A total of 36,653 noise complaints were filed in 2016 regarding arrivals to and departures from Reagan National Airport, according to recently-released stats from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The complaints were filed by 836 individuals in 762 households, including one individual who filed 17,273 noise complaints. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Tourists spent more than $3 billion in Arlington County last year, supported more than 25,000 jobs and produced over $200 million in local and state tax revenues, all record highs.
According to figures released by the U.S. Travel Association, tourism in the county generated $3.12 billion in 2016, up 2 percent from the previous year. Arlington continued to lead all Virginia counties in visitor spending, as it has since 2009.
“Tourism continues to be an incredibly vibrant sector in Arlington’s economy,” Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Through jobs, spending at Arlington businesses and tax revenues that support local schools and services, tourism will always be a key to our economic growth.”
The 2016 tourism data is based on spending by visitors from inside the United States, from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.
“These excellent results are a testament to the strength of our hospitality community and its longstanding collaboration with the County in marketing Arlington to potential visitors,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kate Bates said in a statement. “We are proud of the exceptional work of our hotels, whose dedication to top quality service continues to attract more visitors to our area.”
Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, said support from the County Board and Chamber for increased investment in tourism promotion has been crucial.
“It has dramatically expanded our ability to showcase Arlington and its businesses to meeting planners, consumers, tour operators and journalists – domestically and around the globe,” Hoskins said in a statement.
Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77
A native of Oakland, California, Mayfield talked about her journey to the executive suite and offered words of wisdom about leadership, plus career advice for young professionals.
The event was held at 1776 in Crystal City and organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, as part of a new “Secrets to Success” podcast series with ARLnow. Stay tuned for details about future live recordings that you can attend in the coming weeks and months.
The series is titled “Secrets to Success” and will host a different Arlington business titan, who will share their stories about the Arlington business world.
The first show will feature Pinkie Dent Mayfield, vice president for corporate affairs and special assistant to the chairman at education and media company Graham Holdings. ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will be the program’s moderator and will lead the discussion with Mayfield, who will share her business philosophy at the offices of startup incubator 1776 (2231 Crystal Drive #1000).
Those on hand for the event will be able to ask Mayfield questions during a Q&A segment. The event also features a networking portion and food served from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
For those unable to attend, the podcast will later be published online.
The evening’s agenda is as follows:
- 4-4:30 p.m.: Registration and open networking
- 4:30-5:15 p.m.: Live recorded podcast
- 5:15-5:30 p.m.: Q&A (not recorded)
- 5:30-6 p.m.: Networking reception
In his final State of the County address before he retires at year’s end, Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said he is proudest of providing stable leadership during the county’s transformation.
Fisette, in his fifth annual address before the Arlington Chamber of Commerce as chair since coming onto the Board in 1998, said he believes his legacy will be the way Arlington has become more urbanized and expanded its population while staying true to its values.
“For me, it would be helping to guide the 20-year transformation of the community into an urban success story that we are,” he said. “Change is hard, and doing that in a way that has resulted in a community that’s a model in so many areas of public life, while at the same time protecting the connectedness and the compassion of a small town. There are a lot of things that have to happen to make that kind of recipe work.”
In his remarks before more than 100 business leaders, elected officials and other attendees Wednesday morning, Fisette touted various successes in his tenure as the current Board’s longest serving member.
He noted the 9.5 million square feet in new office space and 2.5 million square feet in new retail space, 2,700 additional hotel rooms, more than 29,000 new homes and other indicators, all while the unemployment rate stayed largely consistent at 2.5 percent, among the lowest in Virginia.
“In short, the state of the county is really good,” Fisette said. “In my view, Arlington works.”
But, Fisette said, Arlington faces numerous challenges, including on affordable housing, Arlington Public Schools capacity and an 18 percent office vacancy rate among others. He said the county has faced problems on his watch, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the loss of thousands of jobs through Base Realignment and Closure, but has always come through.
And despite those challenges, Fisette said the relationship between the business community and the county government remains strong, “[e]ven when our relationship is one where we don’t agree,” like the recent spat between the Chamber and Board over proposed changes to the towing ordinance.
Fisette had 10 recommendations for county leaders, after the jump:
Construction Accident in Rosslyn — An accident on the parking garage level of the construction site at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street in Rosslyn prompted a large fire department and police response this morning. A worker suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the accident, which occurred around 8 a.m., and needed to be carried via rescue basket to a waiting ambulance. The response closed lanes of Key Blvd and exacerbated traffic delays caused by construction nearby on Lee Highway.
Sex Assault Suspect May Have Tried Other Buildings — The suspect in a violent sexual assault in Rosslyn may have unsuccessfully tried to get into other Arlington apartment buildings before somehow entering The Atrium building, where the assault occurred, through the front entrance, NBC 4’s Jackie Bensen reports. The suspect then knocked on doors, claiming to be a maintenance worker, before the victim opened her door and a struggle and the sexual assault ensued. [NBC Washington]
Wakefield Senior Named Top Entrepreneur — “Wakefield High School senior Tasnim Alam was named one of the top six entrepreneurs in the country at the the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Saunders Scholarship Competition in Rochester, N.Y. Tasnim is the founder and CEO of Heatless Hotness, a business that sells heat-free hair curlers that are convenient to use and create salon-like results, which she launched while participating in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s YEA! program.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
When Do Pools Open in Arlington? — Patch has an answer to the question, “When Do Arlington Swimming Pools Open in 2017?” — and that answer is: Memorial Day weekend. More specifically: Saturday, May 27. Unless it’s an indoor pool, in which case it’s open year-round. [Patch]
Almost 200 people gathered May 2 for the awards, which are presented to area businesses for their customer service, industry leadership, growth or stability over the lifetime of their business and interest in the success of the Arlington community.
This year’s winners, by category, were:
CNA – 2017 Business of the Year
Hyatt Centric Arlington – 2017 Business of the Year
Beach Geeks, Inc. – 2017 Technology Small Business of the Year
Current Boutique – 2017 Retail Small Business of the Year
Child Care Aware of America – 2017 Nonprofit of the Year
Wolcott Hill Group – 2017 Home-Based Business of the Year
Clarendon Animal Care – 2017 Service Small Business of the Year
“Our community depends upon the businesses that go above and beyond for clients, employees, and the community, and these seven businesses exemplify that kind of dedication,” said Chamber president & CEO Kate Bates in a statement. “We are proud to present this year’s winners with these well-deserved awards and thank all of them for their continued investment in Arlington.”
The Chamber also inducted John Milliken and Richard Doud, Jr. into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame, which honors men and women who have demonstrated a long record of successful management, expertise, and business skills. Milliken is a former County Board member, while Doud served as Chamber president for 23 years.
“John and Rich are the true definition of what it means to be an Arlington legacy,” Bates said. “Their many important accomplishments and efforts to support and advocate on behalf of local business have helped make Arlington the place it is today. It is an honor to induct both of these outstanding community leaders into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.”
Photos via Arlington Chamber of Commerce
Didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s Arlington Chamber of Commerce candidate forum? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Four candidates — independent Audrey Clement and Democrats Kim Klingler, Peter Fallon and Erik Gutshall — participated in the forum, fielding questions about issues of particular importance to the local business community. (Democrat Vivek Patil was unable to attend.)
Four of the five candidates for County Board argued that county government must be easier for small businesses to navigate in order to better encourage economic growth.
With less than two weeks to go until the start of the local Democratic Party’s caucus to determine its nominee, tax relief and helping new businesses were high on the agenda at a forum hosted last night by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at Synetic Theater in Crystal City.
Peter Fallon said county staff must be less “zealous” in enforcing rules and become more focused on customer service, while Erik Gutshall argued for a wider culture change in county government.
“When you’re that zealous, you don’t have the flexibility of thinking about what you’re trying to do,” Fallon said.
“The culture of ‘get to yes’ doesn’t exist because it doesn’t have a champion,” said Gutshall. “And I want to be that champion.”
Independent Audrey Clement, on the campaign trail ahead of November’s general election in the race to replace retiring Board chair Jay Fisette, said the best way to help small business is to cut taxes.
She criticized the recent 1.5-cent hike in property taxes, and accused the County Board of “basically hoarding money” by keeping tens of millions of dollars in cash reserves.
Clement added that the Board was “bamboozled” on raising taxes by County Manager Mark Schwartz, who was directed to provide a series of budget cuts to halve his proposed tax rate increase from two cents to one.
The cuts to a variety of neighborhood and other programs brought out droves of local residents to oppose them, and the County Board backed off.
Kim Klingler, a Democratic candidate, said putting those 24 projects on the table for cuts was a mistake given their direct impacts on the community.
“That makes it really hard when you have 24 lightning-rods on the table, and then have to talk about cutting taxes,” she said.
Candidates also said that the County Board should do a better job of ensuring residents’ concerns about development are heard, and that decisions on new projects are not, as Gutshall put it, “baked in.”
“If residents are going to participate in the ‘Arlington Way,’ we need to make sure they are heard, and they have clear expectations set for them,” said Klingler.
In Vivek Patil’s absence, his campaign manager Nathan Saxman read a prepared statement arguing for a “green and clean tech economy” focused on innovation and new industries.
“This is an economic model that places Arlington at the epicenter of job creation in the commonwealth,” said Saxman.
The four Democratic candidates will debate next Wednesday at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting, ahead of May’s caucus.
Local businesses will not have to authorize each individual tow from their property after Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed a bill ending the would-be practice.
HB 1960 overrides Arlington County’s towing regulations that required a so-called “real-time authorization” of each tow during business hours. The county’s regulations were set to come into effect on July 1.
The bill, introduced by Del. Tim Hugo (R-40), prevents any jurisdiction in Northern Virginia from requiring the authorization, also known as a second signature. The first signature is the contract that authorizes a company to tow from a particular property.
Having previously railed against the requirement, Arlington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kate Bates praised McAuliffe’s decision.
Bates said in a statement:
The signing of this important legislation into law is a huge win for the Arlington business community. Arlington businesses rely on being able to provide clear, available parking for customers, employees and visitors in order to stay viable, and HB 1960 empowers and protects these businesses so they can continue to do just that. By removing the ability of local lawmakers to force businesses to adhere to a second authorization towing requirement, this legislation returns the decision-making power about the removal of illegally parked vehicles back where it belong: in the hands of private property owners and business owners.
McAuliffe said in an interview on WTOP this morning that he signed the bill after having conversations with representatives of local chambers of commerce and small businesses.
“I always will come down on the side of the small business community, so I signed the bill,” McAuliffe said.
County Board chair Jay Fisette told ARLnow.com he was “disappointed” at McAuliffe’s decision, after he initially tried to amend the bill. Fisette said the second signature is necessary to prevent predatory towing.
“For us, it’s important because predatory towing has gotten worse over recent years, and an increasing number of people are affected by it,” Fisette said. “There is a better balance that can be struck to reduce the number of tows that occur in the first two minutes that somebody parks in a space.”
Fisette said he hopes the Chamber and county can now work together to find a way to address both parties’ concerns.
One minor change requested by McAuliffe, concerning fines for towing operators in Northern Virginia that will apply each time they make an improper tow or violate certain towing regulations, was made to the final bill by the legislature. The bill also calls for towing operators to notify the local animal control office when a car is towed with a pet inside.
Local Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48) spoke forcefully against the bill on the floor of the House of Delegates during the General Assembly’s reconvened session earlier this month to discuss McAuliffe’s amendments and vetoes.
He said the fact that other localities like Virginia Beach and Stafford County have a second signature provision shows inconsistency. He said the General Assembly should have “left well alone” for jurisdictions to decide.
“My big concern with this bill is I don’t quite understand why having granted this authority to localities over a decade ago, Northern Virginia is being now carved out and this authority to pass ordinances like the one Arlington did is being stripped away in some localities but not others,” he told ARLnow.com. “There are other localities that do use this authority and apparently it works well without any hue and cry and uproar.”
Numerous county businesses have been selected for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s annual Best Business Awards, set for next week.
The awards recognize businesses that go above and beyond to serve their clients and make the county a great place to live and work. Businesses earn the awards through good customer service, if they are industry leaders or offer a unique approach, or if they are active in the community.
This year, the awards will be given out on May 2 at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Rosslyn. A VIP past winners reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the main ceremony at 7 p.m.
The finalists by category are:
Large Business Award (General)
Update on New Hotel Near Rosslyn — A new Homewood Suites hotel being built near Rosslyn recently celebrated its “topping out.” The 11-story hotel, which replaced the former Colony House Furniture store, is expected to be completed by early 2018. [Commercial Property Executive]
Gov. Recommends Changes to Towing Bill — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has sent a trespass towing bill back to the General Assembly with significant recommended changes. The bill in its current form would raise towing fees in Northern Virginia and prohibit Arlington from enacting its new “second signature” requirement on tows during business hours. [InsideNova]
Hospitality Workers Lauded — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held its 13th annual Hospitality Awards on Tuesday. From a press release: “One winner, Fayssal Samaka of the The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City once checked in a family at the hotel, when he overheard that the father was recovering from cancer. Samaka arranged for the family to stay in the Presidential Suite and even booked them a tour. A few months later, the family informed the general manager that the father had passed away, and because the last trip they took together as a family was at The Ritz-Carlton, they would come back every year on vacation.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Project Explores Arlington Communities — A just-submitted doctoral dissertation examines “the processes of community development, suburbanization, and segregation that Arlingtonians, black and white, used to create lasting communities that met their own needs and reflected their own preferences.” The project’s exhibits include the local history of government housing during World War II, Arlington’s historically black communities, and the history of the American Nazi Party in the county. [Built By the People Themselves]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
The Chamber is very much opposed to a proposed addition to the county’s towing ordinance that would require business owners to individually authorize each tow from their parking lots. The Arlington County Board is set to take up the issue this coming Tuesday, with the County Manager recommending against the so-called “second signature” requirement.
On Airbnb and other short term rentals, the Chamber has actively engaged its members on the county’s new proposed regulations, which are going before the Board on Saturday. With hotels in support of additional regulations, and apartment owners against (they would like the option of generating revenue through Airbnb while they lease up new buildings), the Chamber has declined to take a stance beyond encouraging its members to make their own voices heard.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we asked Kate about those issues, about the current business climate in Arlington — including why so many restaurants and retailers have been closing lately — and about her ascension to the role of President and CEO of the Chamber at a relatively young age.