Across the street from the Crystal City Metro station, in a nondescript office building, stands the headquarters of Bloomberg BNA, one of Arlington County’s largest private employers.
Each day, more than 1,000 employees push through its revolving glass doors or take the elevator up from the underground garage.
Bloomberg BNA is an information and research company which provides “legal, tax, compliance, government affairs and government contracting professionals with critical information, practical guidance and workflow solutions.” Established in 1929 as the Bureau of National Affairs, the company was employee-owned from 1947 until 2011, when it became a subsidiary of financial news and information giant Bloomberg.
Paul Albergo, the bureau chief, has worked at Bloomberg BNA for over 30 years. Around 200 people work under Albergo at Bloomberg BNA’s Crystal City news division.
“We are one of the largest news-gathering organizations in Washington,” Albergo said. “We have the largest number of reporters that are credentialed on Capitol Hill.”
Bloomberg BNA was in D.C.’s West End from the 1920s until 2007, when it came to Arlington, lured by tax incentives, which were extended earlier this year. Previously, the company was scattered amongst several different buildings. In Crystal City, employees are an elevator ride away from each other.
In the new space, people from various departments can rub shoulders in the “pantry” — a pristine, sunlit eating area boasting an exotic fish tank and a peanut butter grinder.
“You tend to run into people that you’re thinking about but you don’t have a formal meeting with and suddenly you can have communication,” Albergo said.
One of the many perks of the company’s new building is an easy commute: the West End location was not close to a Metro station and could be difficult to reach by car.
“To go from a neighborhood that was kind of tucked away in a corner of the city to a location that was well-served by Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], just a couple blocks off the highway and other major commuter routes [made] everyone’s commute a lot easier,” Albergo said.
Albergo himself lives in the District but his commute is about 20 minutes quicker than before. Ironically, although the company is no longer in D.C., it now takes reporters less time to get to their important events on Capitol Hill, among other places.
“In many ways it becomes really easy to recruit people that come to work here because commuting is so easy,” Albergo said.
Although coffee is readily available at the office when Local News Now Founder Scott Brodbeck arrives, he typically brings his own. He knows that he’ll need the earlier jump start before leaping right in at the office and turning on the police scanner while sifting through readers’ news tips.
While the business aspects of Local News Now and much of the daily writing for local news website ARLnow.com are done at the MakeOffices Clarendon home base, covering news means being ready to go out on assignment at any given time.
“For us, the location is great. Being able to walk to so many things has been huge,” says Brodbeck.
Obviously, there’s far more to Arlington than just Clarendon, but being based at such a central location in the county makes for easy transportation to story locations. Staff usually walk, run or drive to stories, although Brodbeck explains that they have not yet delved into a very Arlington-esque mode of transportation while on the clock.
“We haven’t biked to any stories yet, but it’s something we’re considering,” he says with a laugh.
On one particularly busy news day last month, Brodbeck took the short walk from his office to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly opened Hyatt Place Hotel in Courthouse. He snaps photos and listens to speeches from corporate and county leaders as dozens sip champagne to celebrate the new development at the space previously occupied by Wilson Tavern, and Kitty O’Shea’s before it.
(Brodbeck refrained from imbibing the bubbly on the job, but isn’t opposed to an after-working-hours beer from one of MakeOffices’ kegerators.)
Along the way to the event, Brodbeck does what reporters do: He keeps an eye out for other potential stories. That means taking photos of progress at two nearby construction sites, investigating a “temporarily closed” sign at Five Guys (it has since reopened) and making a note to stop at the just-opened Blumen Cafe after the ribbon-cutting event.
Business does not come to a halt at Local News Now headquarters when Brodbeck and other reporters are out in the field. Back at the office, Director of Sales and Business Engagement Meghan McMahon gears up to meet with advertising clients. For her, location is also key for conducting work tasks.
“I work with a lot of local Arlington businesses. Being able to run in and out of the office to meet people… is very convenient,” she says.
McMahon’s life recently changed with the birth of her daughter and now another important aspect comes into play daily: balancing work life with being a mom.
Returning to a coworking space after maternity leave at first seemed overwhelming for McMahon, who suddenly had to factor breastfeeding into her daily routine. “When I first came in I saw that everything’s glass, everything’s open. I wondered where my privacy would be,” she says. “I was a little stressed about how to be in a working office environment and also be able to pump and do the things I have to do to be a new mom.”
But it turns out that MakeOffices Clarendon has an amenity McMahon wasn’t aware of at first. There are small, completely private, secure rooms called “wellness centers” that she now takes advantage of twice each work day.
“That was a sense of relief for me,” she says. “I can take a few minutes out of my day and go relax in the wellness rooms… It gives me 20 minutes of alone time so that I can get ‘mom stuff’ done.” (more…)
Man Busted for Meth Lab Worked for USA Today — One of the men arrested in connection with a suspected meth lab in a Virginia Square apartment building used to be a journalist who was regularly published in USA Today. Leonard Fischer, 44, was formerly a technology reporter for Gannett News Service. [Jim Romenesko, Kenneth in the 212]
Arlington Unemployment Rate Declines — Arlington still has the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia. Arlington’s jobless rate dipped from 3.7 percent in June to 3.5 percent in July, according to newly-released data. The average in Virginia is 6 percent, and the national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Outdoor Movie Lineup Announced — Crystal City’s lineup of outdoor movies for 2013 has been announced. The series — with the theme of “Blockbusters” — will kick of with E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial on June 3, 2013 and will wrap up with Jurassic Park on Aug. 26, 2013. The lineup was chosen via online vote by members of the public. [Crystal City]
That news comes as Washington Post employees reported on Twitter that the Post is shuttering all of its Virginia and Maryland local bureaus, with the exception of Richmond and Annapolis. The Post currently has local bureaus in Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Prince William County and elsewhere.
The Poynter Institute’s Jim Romenesko has a memo from the Washington Post Guild’s Facebook page confirming the closures. “The closure of the physical buildings does not mean that the Post will reduce its local coverage,” according to the memo.
No word yet on the Post’s plans for coverage in Arlington.
Crystal City Recycles Tons of Electronics — About 33.5 tons of electronics and four tons of paper were recycled at yesterday’s “Power Shred and Purge” in Crystal City. Hundreds of people and businesses dropped off hundreds of computer monitors, printers, CPUs and servers, along with 5,000 pounds of cables and batteries. The annual event also featured free paper shredding.
Kiddie Rapist Going Away for Very Long Time — Benjamin Ramirez-Segovia, 43, who pled guilty to the 1993 rape of a 9-year-old girl in Arlington, has been given four consecutive life sentences. He was arrested in March 2008 after the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit re-examined the DNA evidence in the case.
McAfee Antivirus Bug Shuts Down NSF Computers — A major problem with an automatic update to McAfee’s corporate antivirus software hit the Arlington headquarters of the National Science Foundation yesterday, knocking the organization’s computers offline.
New Local News Website Has a Name — A new inhabitant at 1100 Wilson Blvd has a new name. TBD is the newly-minted moniker for Allbritton Communication’s new local news website. The site, overseen by former washingtonpost.com executive editor Jim Brady, will eventually replace the current websites for Arlington-based Allbritton TV properties ABC7 and NewsChannel8.