Strong local economies don't just happen - it takes deliberate actions by government in concert with the private sector to ensure a community thrives. Our quality of life today is the result of leaders who took stock of what they had - location, federal government jobs, lovely neighbor-hoods - and created modern Arlington through strategic investments in public transportation and public education. Those investments - commitments - were key to my decision in 1995 to settle here, have kids and start a local small business.
In fact, our land use planning and its creation of mixed-use walkable neighborhoods has created an entrepreneurial ecosystem that puts us in a fantastic position, ahead of many of our regional competitors, to reinvigorate our local economy. For many today, where you live is far more important to a high quality life than the work you do. The neighborhoods we all love are exactly the places that mobile young professionals and early retirees are attracted to as they pursue work that is often non-traditional and self-directed.
Arlington's leaders need to take strategic actions to position our community to take full ad-vantage of our assets to ensure we have a vibrant, diverse economy in the years to come. I will be the only County Board member with direct entrepreneurial business experience. In fact, I'll be the only County Board member who pays both commercial and residential taxes. It takes someone like me, working on the inside, to guide true government streamlining that convinces the private sector to invest for the future with us.
As a County Board member I will:
- Fund fully Arlington Economic Development's plan to attract nimble businesses in new industries to our vacant commercial spaces;
- Use crowd sourcing and other strategies to identify the retail needs of neighbors and help assure a reasonable customer base for new, potentially locally-owned retail in our smaller neighborhood centers;
- Establish customer service metrics and push for the regular use of technology tools to identify and solve process and personnel problems that slow small business openings or create delays for homeowners seeking expansion or renovation of their homes;
- Advocate for predictable, friendly regulation changes that leverage our competitive advantages for employers;
- Closely examine our tax policies and adjust as needed to assure that they are competitive in the region and support the innovation economy;
- Work with APS and with Encore Learning to assure that our diverse young people who are entering the job market for the first time and retirees looking for rewarding work have direct connections to employers who need the skills and talents they offer;
- Work with the Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) in Rosslyn, Crystal City and Ballston to identify and rectify barriers to creative use of public spaces for events, business incubators and pop-ups;
- Support expansion of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and Clarendon Alliance and the creation of a similar business partnership for the Lee Hwy corridor to enhance place-making, local commerce, and provide events in those neighborhoods;
- Fund key road, utility undergrounding and, where necessary, parking investments to assure that shoppers and clients have easy access to our local businesses; and,
- Study, and then implement as needed, Alexandria and Montgomery County's incentives and other tools designed to help existing local businesses remain and thrive as redevelopment occurs.