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 neighborhoods - and created modern Arlington through strategic investments in public transportation and public education. Those investments 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 has the talent, infrastructure, and amenities employers are looking for. In a new era where jobs come to the skilled versus people moving to where the jobs are, Arlington is well-positioned to leverage our excellent schools, transportation infrastructure, and formidable talent pool to attract high-caliber employers. We need not race to the bottom, but should recognize in a highly competitive environment that Arlington can include reasonable incentive packages as part of a winning pitch.
As the only County Board member with direct entrepreneurial experience who pays both commercial and residential taxes, I'll bring a sharper focus to Arlington's small businesses, the heart and soul of our community, who make up 50% of our commercial tax base. Our economic development strategy should leverage the economic value to Arlington of large corporations as we help our innovators and entrepreneurs grow and diversify our economy. Small businesses benefit from large anchors and all of Arlington gains with a thriving entreprenuerial ecosystem.
As a County Board member I will:
- Support Arlington Economic Development's plan to attract nimble businesses in new industries to our vacant commercial spaces while ensuring that judicious tax incentives are tied to specific performance metrics;
- Advocate for investments and amenities that help all businesses like a healthcare co-op and plentiful quality childcare;
- 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, the Clarendon Alliance, and the Lee Highway Alliance 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.