Bakery in Woodbridge offers European, New York desserts

Mario Rubio opened Bellash Bakery in Woodbridge.
The bakery serves New York and European style desserts.
According to Rubio, European baking ingredients can be difficult to get.
The bakery serves, cookies, cupcakes, pastries and more.
Rubio also does custom cake orders.

In the mood for some European-inspired deserts?

Bellash Bakery’s owner Mario Rubio, opened the New York and European style bakery a few months ago in Woodbridge.

“I saw there were no Italian or European bakeries around. So I thought it was something that the neighborhood would want,” said Rubio.

Rubio, who owned a bakery in New York for 30 years, wanted to bring residents a way to try European baked goods you couldn’t find elsewhere in the area.

Bellash Bakery offers an assortment of European desserts including butter cookies, Italian biscuits, French pastries, European tortes, cupcakes and Rubio’s custom cakes.

“A lot of people think that with a European bakery, they expect that all of our products come right from Europe. And around here, you aren’t really able to get those ingredients. But in New York, we are able to get those ingredients. So we are able to do a combination of the European tastes, with the American style bakery. You’re going to get the original taste from Europe, but you can imitate it with American ingredients,” said Rubio.

The bakery is located at Station Plaza on Jefferson Davis Highway in Woodbridge.

The pollo guizado is great, at Woodbridge bakery

Guadalupe Castro immigrated to the United States from El Salvador decades ago.
She has owned a bakery in Falls Church for more than 30 years.
Her new location is near the Potomac Mills Mall.
They serve El Salvadorian food, desserts and custom cakes.
Castro makes many of the custom cake orders herself.
They typically sell more than 100 cakes a weekend.

Guadalupe Castro has been baking and cooking up classic El Salvadorian food for a long time.

Castro, who is the owner of Castro’s Bakery in Falls Church, recently opened the doors at her new location in Woodbridge, near Potomac Mills Mall.

Castro has owned the Falls Church location for 30-years, and after requests from customers, she decided to expand.

“She was thinking about opening a second location, and we came down a couple of times…and then when she saw this location – next to the [El Salvadorian embassy] – she thought ‘well okay, I’ll open it,’” said Pam, the Woodbridge bakery’s manager.

Castro immigrated to the United States from El Salvador decades ago, and built her businesses up from scratch.

“Her whole experience – how she worked herself up to where she is now – she’s amazing. She just has this gift about her with cooking,” said Pam.

The Castro’s Bakery location in Woodbridge offers not only baked goods and custom cakes, but traditional El Salvadorian food as well – like enchiladas, pollo guizado, and paselito de carne.

The bakery is located at 14556 Potomac Mills Road, and is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Restaurant promises ‘sweet’ burritos in Dale City

A new burrito joint is opening up in Dale City.
They promise fresh ingredients, every day.
The All American burrito.
Their Rise and Shiner breakfast burrito.
Sweeto Burrito will open August 17.

Try some unconventional eats at Sweeto Burrito in Dale City.

From their luchador theme to their unconventional menu, Sweeto Burrito will be one of the coolest places to eat in Dale City at the Staples Mill Plaza at the intersection of Minnieville Road and Spriggs Road.

The burrito franchise got its start as a food truck in Idaho in 2011, by owner Jon Pierre Francia.

“It was really a blue collar story, where a guy went and borrowed money from his family to start a food truck, and the market came to him to start franchising,” said Virginia’s Sweeto Burrito franchise owner Mike Sarago.

Sarago first got involved with the company after seeing them on the Travel Channel program ‘Food Paradise’. Shortly after the program aired, Sarago flew out to Arizona to meet with Francia.

“I went out with the intention of buying a two or three franchise unit package, and by the end of the weekend, I had bought the rights for the state of Virginia,” said Sarago.

There are currently plans to open 25 Sweeto Burrito locations in Virginia in the next 10 years. The first location will be opening on August 17.

While the Sweeto Burrito will offer traditional TexMex style burritos, they also have plenty of unconventional fare on their menu.

“The food is very unconventional, but it has a complex flavor profile that you wouldn’t expect to click in the way that it does. You’re combining things into these TexMex burritos and it really creates these new and original things, with all these flavors that just clash together in a very positive way,” said Sweeto Burrito manager Max Haddad.

Haddad mentioned two burritos in particular – the ‘Buff Chick’ and the ‘White Chick’.

The ‘Buff Chick’ includes Buffalo wings, tater tots, cilantro ranch dressing and cheese. The ‘White Chick’ has grilled chicken, black beans, pepperjack cheese, sour cream, rice and cilantro ranch dressing, said Haddad.

According to Haddad, they also offer breakfast burritos, including the ‘Rise and Shiner’ – with steak and eggs, cheese, tater tots, cilantro ranch dressing and sriracha sauce.

Once the location is open, Sarago plans to work with community groups to host fundraisers.

“We want to do a partnership in the community, and do fundraising, and donate to the schools. That’s something I’d like to be involved in,” said Sarago.

The restaurant will have its grand opening ceremony on August 22.

Abrakadoodle expands to Prince William

It’s thumbs-up in Crayola color “Tickle Me Pink” for Eileen and Troy Moore (seated) with Abrakadoodle founders and managing executives Rosemarie Hartnett and Mary Rogers.

Abrakadoodle is bringing its award-winning creative, mobile art programs to benefit children and adults with the addition of its newest franchise unit in Prince William County.

Abrakadoodle, with its global franchise headquarters in Sterling, welcomes this latest unit in Prince William County that joins Virginia locations in Loudoun County, Northern Virginia and Norfolk/Virginia Beach.

Dave Buck, a Business Coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source, introduced the Moore’s to Abrakadoodle. New owner Eileen Moore will be providing a wide range of art programs to include visual arts classes, camps, workshops, in-school field trips, special events and arty parties at schools, community centers, and other sites that serve children. Fall art classes will be offered via Enrichment Matters at Ashland Elementary and The Nokesville School.

Abrakadoodle also offers creative art programs and social art parties and events through its Art Splash program, which is designed specifically for adults. Abrakadoodle will be establishing programs at schools and sites throughout Prince William County to include Woodbridge, Manassas, Dale City, Lake Ridge and Quantico.


MOM’s Organic Market opening in Woodbridge late August

MOMs Organic Market to open in Woodbridge, Virginia.


Koetz stated that the opening has been pushed back to September.

Original post

MOM’s Organic Market is opening a new location in Woodbridge at the end of August. 

According to MOM’s spokesman Christine Koetz, the 12,000 square foot store will be opening on Smoketown Road in the Prince William Square Shopping Center.

MOM’s is a regional chain of organic grocery stores, with 12 locations in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia area, according to their website. They got their start in 1987.

MOM’s central office is located in Rockville, Maryland, said Koetz.

According to their website, MOM’s has a preference in their selection focusing on organic foods or non-GMO (genetically modified organism) foods. They do not sell any products with artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, antibiotics or growth hormones, bleached flour, sulfates, or nitrates.


Local business honors fallen soldier with memorial bat

Baret Bats created a special baseball bat for a fallen Army soldier.
The homemade custom bat company is based out of Lake Ridge.
Baret decided to create the business after learning he could no longer play baseball.

An Air Force veteran was able to honor a fallen Army soldier using skills from his side business – Baret Bats.

Juan Baret, a former Air Force sergeant and current office engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Belvoir, started his business, Baret Bats, from his home in Lake Ridge.

Baret stated that the company started when he learned he could no longer play baseball due to chronic pain.

“It was crushing blow to know that I could no longer do something that I loved so much, especially at a relative young age of 33… But rather than focusing on the things I could no longer do, I focused my energies on my strengths. My strengths are passion and determination. So once I made the decision to get back in the game, I looked into making baseball bats at home,” said Baret.

According to Baret, one of the main goals of the company is to provide players with customized bats that make them feel like a professional.

“For most of my baseball playing life I used a wooden bat for practice and to play in games. Using a wood bat felt more comfortable and I performed much better when compared to using aluminum bats…the best wood went to the professional baseball players while the amateurs were left with little options but to swing subpar bats,” said Baret.

While he’s made bats for several baseball players across the country, an order that was close to him was one placed for Sean Cutsforth, an Army specialist that was killed serving in Afghanistan in 2010.

Cutsforth grew up in Prince William County, and was an avid baseball ball player.

The Brentsville District High School actually renamed their baseball field Army Specialist, Sean Russell Cutsforth Memorial Field in his honor, following his passing.

Baret was approached by Andrew Widiker, a family member of Cutsforth, and asked to make a special bat in honor of Cutsforth.

“[Widiker] found me thru my Instagram account after looking at several bat makers and decided that he wanted an actual person not a machine to make such special bat to honor his cousin Sean,” said Baret.

Baret created a custom design for the bat, titled ‘Swinging for Sean’, which featured an image of a soldier and red, white, and blue details.

Currently Baret takes orders for the bats via email or in person, but will be launching his website in August.

Baret stated that customers can order custom bats from T-ball for $35, and adult bats in the $75 to $85 range.

Principi goes to Trader Joe’s HQ in California to petition for Woodbridge location

Woodbridge district Supervisor Frank Principi is going to the Trader Joe’s headquarters in California.

Principi is going to their headquarters to petition for a Trader Joe’s location in Woodbridge at his own expense, following consistent feedback from residents.

In a survey he sent to Woodbridge residents, 85 percent of respondents said that they typically spend $100 or more when visiting Trader Joe’s, according to a release.

The “Bring Trader Joe’s to Woodbridge” Facebook page is very active, with more than 1,900 ‘likes’.  

Currently, the two closest locations are in Springfield and Centerville, which means that the money spent by area residents at these sites is leaving Prince William.

According to Principi, he hopes to get a meeting with one of the Trader Joe’s officials, and is willing to wear the company’s trademark Hawaiian shirt to do so.

“If it will help me get the meeting – definitely,” Principi stated in a release.

Residents in Woodbridge have not been shy in expressing their desire to have a Trader Joe’s location in their area.

“Trader Joe’s has unique items that are not available at other stores…They have reasonable prices and their selection of foods tend to have much healthier choices. The food is high quality and tasty and the personnel that work there are some of the friendliest and most helpful of any store, grocery or other,” said Woodbridge resident Harry Winnik in a release.

“We love Trader Joe’s, and right now it’s a once a month treat, only because it’s not close enough for us to go more often…We would shop twice a week if it was closer,” said Lake Ridge resident Erika Estrella in a release.

Principi stated that he would like to collect a signature with 2,000 signatures before he leaves for Trader Joe’s headquarters.

Principi formerly attended school and lived in California.

Mr. Postal holds ribbon cutting at North Stafford store

Mr. Postal ribbon cutting.
Mr. Postal ribbon cutting.
Mr. Postal ribbon cutting.
Mr. Postal ribbon cutting.
Mr. Postal ribbon cutting.
Mr. Postal ribbon cutting.

Mr. Postal held a ribbon cutting at its location at 2769 Jefferson Davis Highway in North Stafford.

Now under new ownership, retail center was formerly known as the Pack N Ship Store.

Several members of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce were in attendance. Margaritas, wine, and champagne was served at the event.

OPTiMO opens 8,500 square foot facility in Manassas

072914-First-on-plOPTiMO Information Technology – a software and technology solutions provider – have opened a new 8,500 square foot facility in Manassas.

OPTiMO, which was founded in 2008, works within federal, defense and commercial markets, and decided to make the move to serve customers in the Washington, D.C. and Virginia area.

According to OPTiMO’s CEO Michael Miguelez, the company chose to open their new location on Battlefield Parkway in Manassas because of its accessibility and commuting time.

“We’re delighted to be in Prince William County. We established our first Virginia location in Vienna in 2012 to better serve our federal clients, but we rapidly outgrew that facility.  We wanted a location with easy access to Washington, DC that is supported by a solid internet infrastructure, with room to support our growth, while supporting a manageable commute for our engineering teams – Prince William County has it all,” said Miguelez.

20 engineers are currently working at the new facility.

Additionally Miguelez stated that the young professionals coming from nearby universities influenced their location decision.

“Prince William County was a clear winner in our site evaluation. We gain direct access to a talent pipeline of young professionals with both Northern Virginia Community College and the George Mason University Science & Technology Campus nearby,” said OPTiMO’s vice president of engineering Jarrod Norton. 

According to the Prince William County Economic Development department, the county’s IT sector is growing rapidly.

Sterling Women group provides business women with networking, opportunities

11539005_730080840447405_7482248177901374553_oThe Sterling Women of Prince William want to help you network and grow your business.

The group, which was founded in 2008 in Reston by Kristina Bouweiri – president of Reston Limousine – started as a way for business women to meet and has grown to include chapters all over Northern Virginia.

“When you’re a business owner, you’re running around and you’re running to all of these events and if you’re the kind of owner where your hands are in everything…your time limit is very small, on events you can attend. So for her, she wanted something where she could take a lunch once a month, have it close to her workplace, network with a bunch of women and then go back to work,” said Shateaa Holmes, head of the Sterling Women Prince William group and president of Excelsior Pay Group.

According to Holmes, the Sterling Women’s group filled a void in the community for business women.

“Kristina’s business is a huge business – it’s over $20 million in revenue, and she has more than 300 employees. And for a woman owned business to have that kind of success is rare. So she wanted to market to other women because you don’t really have that type of networking event. We have the fun and fluff [in the community], but we don’t have the get down to business – where you’re coming in and networking, and your purpose is to make connections and grow your business,” Holmes said.

The group got so popular, they began to expand and add locations.

“It’s turned into this huge networking event and late last year, [Bouweiri] started allowing people to open up different locations,” said Holmes.

Holmes started the Prince William chapter in November, which meets the third Wednesday of every month in Woodbridge. Women are able to see vendors, network with one another and hear from a speaker.

Holmes decided to open her own chapter of Sterling Women, following her own positive experience with the group.

“I went to my first Sterling Women event in February 2013. I started my business in July 2012, at the same time I was working a full time job…and from July to February, I had no success in my business. I was about to close my business. Someone told me about Sterling Women, and told me I needed to go…and after all of the connections I had made…there was no way I could close my business. And I want to pass that on to other people…You’ve got a room full of women, and you’re starting out, or you’re on the spectrum where you’ve got a multi-million dollar business, and you can walk up to any of these women, and connect with them…and learn from them. I wanted to bring that to Prince William County, because I didn’t see anything like that in the county,” said Holmes.

By March 2014, Holmes was able to quit her full time job to focus on her business and currently has 7 employees.

While the group is targeted towards women, Holmes stated that men are welcome to join.

Retirees start small business, make big changes at Westminster

A small business venture at the Westminster at Lake Ridge retirement community has helped to provide its residents with equipment and recreational facilities.

Eethel Johnson – a 93-year old Westminster resident – and some other residents at the facility came up with the idea to open up a thrift store named Encore on the premises in 2001.

“We thought it might be fun to start a thrift shop, so we were allotted some space in the building. And another lady and myself heard that a shop was closing in Occoquan, so we went there and bought shelving, and the clothes racks and their cash register. And with that we were in business,” said Johnson.

From the very beginning the store has been a big success.

“Even that first year, we made $10,000 – which shocked us. Because we thought it was going to take years to get that much money. But business has grown a little bit every year, and now there is a staff of about 20 volunteers,” Johnson commented.

According to Johnson, they mainly sell furniture and women’s clothing. The store has made almost $350,000 to date.

With the money raised from Encore, Johnson and her cohorts have been able to contribute to Westminster and purchase things the living community needs.

“Every cent goes back into the [Westminster] community. We have an account from which we draw, and most of the money goes to the health center, but we do buy things for independent living too,” said Johnson.

One of the newest purchases the store has been able to make for Westminster is a new outdoor gazebo area.

“We had another gazebo previously, and it was about to fall down. So we thought it would be a good thing to spend some money on, and we have a beautiful new gazebo,” said Johnson.

Additionally, they have purchased televisions, lifts for disabled residents, treadmills and other amenities that have benefited the community and its residents.

All residents in Westminster, as well as outside community residents are open to visit the shop, which is open 8 hours a week.

BPOL in Prince William – what is it and why does it matter?


Prince William County businesses are still paying toward the fund for the War of 1812.

The Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax was started in the United States for that purpose several centuries ago, and has persisted today in the county.

Who pays the BPOL tax?

The BPOL tax is required of all businesses in the county above a minimum threshold, and varies by industry. The tax is calculated based on a business’ gross (total) receipts.

Over the years, people in government and the business community have lobbied for the elimination of the tax, as well as raising the threshold.

“When I first came into office 12 years ago, the county had a policy that said that BPOL taxes would be issued to all businesses with a Prince William County business license…except for those businesses that have less than $100,000 gross receipts,” said Coles Supervisor Marty Nohe.

According to Nohe, the BPOL tax makes it harder for small business startups.

“It’s important to understand that the BPOL tax is a tax on the business’ total receipts – not its profits…I have always struggled with the concept that we tax the revenues and sales of small businesses – very small businesses – even when that company may not make a profit, or may be a startup that hasn’t had the opportunity to make a startup yet… I think that BPOL is a fundamentally unfair tax,” said Nohe.

While the threshold was originally $100,000 of gross receipts, over the years it rose to $200,000, then $250,000 and this year the county board of supervisors raised the threshold to $300,000.

“I think that there’s a recognition now that if we want to encourage small business growth in the county, we’re not going to accomplish that by doing the kind of recruitment efforts we do…small businesses tend to respond to market forces. Stores open where the customers are…but one way we can encourage that business growth is to stop the disincentives against startups that exist, with the BPOL tax,” said Nohe.

Revenue generated from the BPOL tax makes up about 3% – or $25 million – of the county’s annual budget.

What does raising the threshold/eliminating the tax do?

In addition to raising the threshold to $300,000 this year – which means only  county businesses that make more than that amount each year (before expenses) will pay the tax – the board also agreed to raise the threshold even higher in the coming years.

Nohe stated that as part of the board’s 5-year budget plan, the BPOL threshold will rise an additional $50,000 a year until 2022 – when the threshold will become $500,000.

According to Brendon Shaw, a spokesperson for the Prince William Chamber of Commerce – one of the organizations in opposition to the tax – increasing the threshold will give more than 1,000 area businesses a tax savings of $850,000.

Shaw also stated that while raising a threshold is a step in the right direction, the Chamber would ultimately like the BPOL tax eliminated.

This was done in Stafford County in 2010, although they still do charge business and merchant related taxes.

“[The] Chamber is in support of continuing to increase the threshold and hopefully will ultimately see it phased out as Stafford County has done.  The trick is to do so without raising an additional tax on business to fill the hole,” said Shaw.

As an alternative, Shaw also stated that changing the structure from taxing gross receipts to net receipts (profit) would be something that the county Chamber of Commerce would support.

Nohe stated that the amount the county would “miss” from the BPOL tax revenue would not be significant, but that the board of supervisors would have to closely evaluate before making a decision on eliminating the BPOL tax.

“The amount of revenue that the county will forgo through that decision – it’s not nothing – but it’s a relatively small amount, in the context of our own budget. But it will mean that over 50% of the businesses operating in the county will no longer pay this tax and we won’t be burdening our very small businesses,” Nohe commented.

New Sheetz location coming to Woodbridge

A new Sheetz gas station is coming to Woodbridge on 2540 Caton Hill Road.

The Prince William county board approved the application for the Sheetz location at their May 12 meeting.

According to County Planning Office employee Rebecca Horner, the 12,210 square foot site will include fueling stations and food access.

“They’re proposing 12 fueling stations with double-sided pump islands. And it will have a quick service food [station] located in it, like [Sheetz] typically do,” said Horner.

The Sheetz will be in a prime location, adjacent to the new Telegraph Road Commuter Lot that was completed in 2014. It will also be close to the Horner Road Commuter Lot – the largest commuter lot in Virginia.

Additionally, it will be just a short distance from a Wawa – one of it’s direct competitors – which is located on the corner of Caton Hill Road and Minnieville Road.

This comes at a time of expansion for the company in the area, as Sheetz locations are being opened in Manassas on Sudley Manor Drive and Ashton Avenue and in Stafford on Garrisonville Road and Furnace Road.

The site had been zoned for this type of development since 1995, said Horner.
“It had reserved the potential for a motor vehicle fuel station with an associated quick service food [addition] in the original rezoning…the proffer specifically stated that [it] would be an allowed use,” Horner commented.

As part of the plan approved by the board, the new Sheetz will have to pay $75 per acre on the 2.04 acre lot, towards water quality monitoring, stream restoration and drainage improvements conducted by the county. They will also pay $0.61 per square foot for fire and rescue services.

There is no set date for the Sheetz location to be built as of yet.

Stafford #1 for job growth in Virginia

Stafford County is now number one for job growth in Virginia.

Last week, at the 24th Annual Business Appreciation Reception held by Stafford’s economic development department, they made the announcement about the county’s job growth numbers.

“Today is a great day for business in Stafford. None of these achievements were random. We deliberately set out to attract businesses that our citizens wanted and that would bring jobs home to the county. We created and followed plans for economic development and those efforts have paid off with more than 2,400 businesses calling Stafford home and more than 40,000 jobs located in the county,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gary Snellings in a release.

Over the past six years, Stafford has had around a 2.6%increase in job growth annually.

Additionally, Stafford was ranked third in the state for overall business growth. There are currently more than 2,400 businesses in the county, according to a release.

“We are delighted with Stafford’s business success in the last few years but there is more work to be done. We will continue our push to attract and retain quality commercial business to Stafford County,” said Chairman of the Stafford County Economic Development Authority Joel Griffin, in a release.

New businesses coming to Potomac Mills

Front Sign

In the coming months, expect to see some new retailers and restaurants moving in to Potomac Mills.

According to Rocell Viniard, the area director of marketing and business Development for Potomac Mills, the new businesses are meant to bring some excitement to the mall.

“At Simon, we’re really trying to continue to push and expand our offerings at Potomac Mills by bringing in high profile brands and restaurant names, and really continue to refresh Potomac Mills. We are trying to enhance the overall experience for our guests – offering the best selection of brands and restaurants,” said Viniard.

There will be three new retailers, and two new restaurants.

A North Face outlet – the only one in the area, according to Viniard – will open in November 2015. Francesca’s will be opening in August 2015, and Rue21 will be opening in October 2015.

Within the exterior area of the mall, a Matchbox Pizza Bistro will be coming in, and a Boston Market will make its appearance the food court. There is no set timeline for the opening of these eateries as of yet.

Esguerra heads Novant Health Foundation Prince William

Abigail Esguerra is the new executive director of the Novant Health Foundation at the Prince William Medical Center.

She replaces Ken Collins, who retired in December 2014.

Esguerra comes to Prince William Medical Center from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax County. While there, she was director of advancement and oversaw fundraising and communications efforts.

This new position will allow her to give back to the community, as the foundation supports many local health initiatives in the community and Manassas City Public Schools.

“I come from a long line of health professionals and educators,” said Esguerra, who originally attended college to become a family counselor.

“I found that I’m not made of the same tough stuff actual medical professionals,” she added. “A career in philanthropy is my way of doing good in this world.”

The Novant Health Foundation Prince William Medical Center handles all of the center’s philanthropic and investment activities.

Five-star hotel, resort and spa may be coming to Potomac Shores

Potoamc shores, dumfries, virginia

Residents in the Potomac Shores development may soon see a multi-million dollar spa and resort.

According to Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, there has been talk of being a resort and spa within the development, to help boost economic development in the area.

“That is our future – this is what our community is about. We want it to be first class,” said Caddigan.

Caddigan stated that the goal was to have a five-star hotel on the water, and a spa.

In order to move the project forward, there will need to be 50 more houses built in the development, and a hotel will need to sign a contract to build on the site, said Caddigan.

“We’ve been pushing this. The community really needs it,” said Caddigan.

Serious Games Institute expanding, Mason Enterprise Center closing

mason prince william

It’s time to find new office space.

The Mason Enterprise Center, a business incubator at the Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University, will close June 30. In its place will be an expanded Virginia Serious Games Institute, which is currently located in the campus’ business incubator.

In addition to the gaming institute, the center housed eight clients, known as residents, and all have relocated to new office spaces. The center’s virtual clients – those who claim the center’s street address as their own and use the center’s conference room space for up to eight hours per month – have been offered space at other Mason Enterprise Centers in Leesburg, Warrenton, Springfield, and Fairfax.

“We’re working with our partner, George Mason University, to define what the next step is for the Mason Enterprise Center in Manassas or Prince William County,” said center director Renne Younes.

It’s not yet clear where, or if, the center will relocate in the region. Manassas Economic Development Director Patrick Small says such a business incubator would benefit Downtown Manassas, but would not say if he or anyone from the city is in talks with the university to relocate the center to the city.

The closing campus business incubator is located inside Innovation Park, a developing center for bio science and technology firms. In the future, another incubator catering to these types of firms could pop up.

“You can see the future opportunities when you see these kinds of incubators mature.  Firms like life sciences and serious online games incubate and then move out into their own space.  So you can really see how the industries start to prosper,” said Prince William County Economic Development spokeswoman Ginny Person.

Once companies graduate from the incubator, the hope is they acquire office or lab space in Innovation Park and spur economic development.   However, there are no plans currently in the works to create a third incubator at Innovation Park, added Person.

A Mason Enterprise Center once located in Woodbridge closed in 2013. Some of the most successful centers, such as the university’s business incubator in downtown Leesburg, are located in walkable neighborhoods, added Younes.

The Serious Game Institute, known as SGI, recently released new training simulators for those work in the healthcare and firefighting fields. 

George Mason University last month changed the name of its campus outside Manassas from “Prince William Campus” to “Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University.”

Virginia Chamber of Commerce economic forecast mixed

Barry DuVal, Virginia, business

The future of Virginia’s economy looks much different from its recent past.

Virginia, a state traditionally reliant on government jobs, is seeing fewer of them due to spending cutbacks and sequestration. That prompted Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Barry Duval to visit Manassas on May 20, where he provided business owners an outline of what to expect as the economy improves.

What’s holding the state’s economy back? Projected slow job growth and competition from other, comparable southern states, said Duval, the former Mayor of Newport News and a self-proclaimed “recovering public official.” Duval said Virginia’s entrepreneurial spirit, access to international markets through an airport like Dulles International, and an educated workforce would make the state competitive in the coming years.

“You will not find a region in the world growing and prospering without an institution of higher education,” Duval told a crowd gathered for a Prince William Chamber of Commerce event held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

He called George Mason University – the agency that operates the Hylton – key to the success of the region. He also said the partnership of the university, Prince William County, Manassas City, and the private organizations that utilize the Hylton, a shining example of what success looks like the new economy.

Pro-business policies that have taken hold in the state continue to attract small shop owners to the area, he said.

“You don’t have to go too far north of the Potomac River to find businesses in states suffering from ‘non pro-business’ policies,” said Duval.

The Federal Government can help spur growth in Virginia by creating a new energy policy, promoting free trade, and improving the national transportation infrastructure, said Duval.

Manassas bakery offers options for those with food allergies

The Lemonade Bakery creates treats that are peanut, nut and egg-free.
They are hoping to open a storefront location in Manassas.
The bakery does a lot of custom orders for schools and daycare centers.
Their most popular item are their glazed sugar cookies.

The Lemonade Bakery, a home-based Manassas bakery – owned by Kelly Stroh – gives individuals with food allergies an opportunity to enjoy yummy treats.

“My third son has severe allergies…and I had to learn to bake for him. And after working on some of that, I realized that I enjoyed baking and it was something I could do with four small children,” said Stroh.

Stroh started off making cookies and cakes in her own kitchen, and the business has grown over the years.

According to Stroh, all of her products are peanut, nut and egg-free, but they can also accommodate other food allergies.

“We do custom orders primarily. We do orders for individuals – a dozen cupcakes or a cake – all the way up to schools, where we do over 1,000 cookies at a time. We do a lot of [orders for] local schools and daycares centers, a lot of them that have a nut free policy…we’re one of the few [commercial bakeries] that are peanut and nut free,” Stroh said.

The bakery’s most popular item are their glazed sugar cookies, which can be made in any shape and decorated.

Right now The Lemonade Bakery offers cakes, cupcakes and cookies, but they’re hoping to add donuts and cinnamon rolls to their lineup.

In the next few months, Stroh and her family plan to move forward with finding a storefront in the Manassas area.

They attempted to fund the expansion through a Kickstarter campaign, which was not successful, but they were able to identify investors to help make the store a reality.

“We didn’t meet our goal – but we got pretty close…what we’re doing now is rounding up a team of private investors for us,” said Stroh.

For Stroh, the business signifies a way to deal with a difficult situation in a positive way.

“A big part of why I wanted to do this was to show my kids that everybody has their challenges, and it’s what you do with them. So you have your lemons – which are your food allergies – and we’re going to make lemonade by making something we enjoy, but it helps others also,” stated Stroh.

Food distributor to bring facility, 100 jobs to Prince William

The food distribution industry is expanding in Prince William, as Reinhart Foodservice – the 5th largest food distributor in the United States – announced they would build a distribution hub in the county.

According to a release from the Prince William County Economic Development Department, Reinhart will be investing in a facility in the county, and bringing in 100 new jobs.

Currently the company has more than 65,000 customers, 16,000 employees and $23 billion in annual sales.

“We are delighted to welcome Reinhart, our newest addition of Reyes Holdings businesses to Prince William County. Just one year ago we revised our targeted industry sectors to attract additional ‘growth industries’ to the County.  Having an industry leader, like Reinhart join our growing food services distribution companies reaffirms this decision,” said board of supervisors Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart in a release.

Reinhart will be joining another business – the Martin Brower Company – that has a facility in Manassas.

James Reyes, chairman of Reyes Holdings, stated that the proximity to major roadways and the customer base are major reasons why Prince William could see continued business growth.

“Our new location, which is situated just off of Interstate 66 offers immediate access to rail, allows us to optimize delivery times and better serve our core customers based in the Greater Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond,” said Reyes.


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