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A Panel of Hope: ACVA's Tourism Marketing Forum

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Feb 02,2011
Filed Under News , Community,
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Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Bill Reagan, the executive director of the Alexandria Small Business
Development Center.

ALEXANDRIA, VA -  Alexandria is all about putting the pieces together for businesses.
 
The city's business leaders promote Alexandria as a business-friendly community and work hard to make all the pieces work cohesively.

Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks <br /> <br />Barbara Ross, the deputy director in the City's planning and zoning department.
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Barbara Ross, the deputy director in the
City's planning and zoning department.

The Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association is a piece of that puzzle and last week, the ACVA invited local business experts to speak to members at the monthly tourism marketing forum.

“We all do different aspects of what’s pertinent to you," said Bill Reagan, the executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. "There are a lot of people to help you.”
 
Reagan's SBDC helps small businesses, particularly with the issue of being undercapitalized and short on expertise. Reagan said that 55 percent of the city’s gross receipts come for small businesses, so he argues that small businesses are significant.

“We are totally focused on you,” Reagan said. “We have contacts with all kinds of consultants and can connect you. Call us in a heartbeat and we will point you in the right direction.”

Stephanie Pace Brown, ACVA's president & CEO,  spoke about the collaborative efforts of the ACVA, city government, AEDP, SBDC and the Alexandria Chamber in supporting Alexandria’s business community – especially small businesses which comprise a vital economic sector for the city.

Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks <br /> <br />Eric Nelson, the chair of the Del Ray Business Association.
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Eric Nelson, the chair of the Del Ray
Business Association.

Val Hawkins, the president & CEO of Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP), said that while 15 businesses in Alexandria closed in 2010, 45 new businesses opened in the city last year. There are currently 30 interested prospects looking for business space and on May 5, 400-500 commercial real estate developers are coming for a tour of the area.

Tina Leone, the president & CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber is now over 860 members strong and advocate for members on a local, state and national level.
 
Members are diverse and include large businesses like Mirant Power Plant to small retailers. Leone said she welcomes the input of incoming chair "Mango Mike" Anderson, who is a small business owner and "gets it."

Barbara Ross, the deputy director in the City's planning and zoning department, spoke about actions the city has taken to encourage business to locate in Alexandria. She said that her office has tried to make things easier, both in the areas of rules and permitting, for developers.
 

Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks <br /> <br />Tara Zimnick-Calico, the chair of the Old Town Business & Professional Association.
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Tara Zimnick-Calico, the chair of the Old
Town Business & Professional Association.

They are also helping to move things faster. One example of this is the permit center – instead of going to four places, developers can come to one place and get all of their permits issued – sometimes completed in as quickly as 20 minutes.

Speaking about the draft plans for the waterfront, Ross said, “I think you’re going to like what you see.”

Eric Nelson, the chair of the Del Ray Business Association, spoke about the events that are held in Del Ray. He said the group advocates on behalf of their members.
 
Tara Zimnick-Calico, the chair of the Old Town Business & Professional Association, said that they also do a lot of advocacy work and have made a lot of movement forward. Lynn Bostain, chair of the West End Business Association, said that they support West End businesses and will be holding a wine festival Oct. 7-8.

Brown concluded the meeting by saying that the ACVA spent $1.2M in advertising last year. This advertising reached 7.5 million people in the local area and 10.5 million people regionally.

She then asked Malore Brooks from Hawthorne Suites to draw the winner of the ACVA web site contact. ACVA members who completed their listings on VisitAlexandriaVA.com with logo, images plus special offers or events were eligible to win. American Legion Post 24 won the prize drawing for a $100 Visa Gift Card. Names were also drawn for raffle prizes.



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