Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

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News
County Calls for Verizon 911 Probe

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Emergency call centers in Prince William County are working again after a disruption in 911 service following Friday’s storm.

The storm knocked out 911 and cell service for much of the day Saturday. But it’s the lack of 911 service that has Prince William County officials calling for an investigation into what went wrong.

Verizon, the company responsible for providing 911 service in the, on Sunday blamed the failure on one of it’s facilities in Arlington. But in a press release Tuesday the company states it’s hard to identify just one weakest link in the chain that led to the failure.

“Verizon recognizes the critical public safety nature of 911 services, and we regret that some customers may have been without access to 911 this past weekend,” said Verizon Vice President of Engineering Mike Daigle. “Our 911 network is designed so that there is no one single point of failure anywhere in the network that can interrupt 911 service. Unfortunately, the nature and severity of this particular storm damaged multiple Verizon facilities inside and outside of offices in the affected area, and that’s what led to the weekend’s 911 issues.”

The failures were described as catastrophic, with public officials urging those with emergencies who could not get through to 911 to flag down first responders, to go to the nearest public safety center, or directly to a hospital.

Officials said this is the second time in as many years the 911 system failed. During a snow storm last year, officials said the emergency phone system went down.

“While we appreciate the efforts Verizon made to get the system back up and running, all efforts should be made to ensure that the critical 911 system does not fail in the future,” said Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey A. Stewart. “We expect Verizon to conduct a full investigation into how the 911 service failed and offer solutions to better secure the system. It is imperative that residents of Prince William County and the entire Washington Metro area never have to face such emergencies without the critical 911 service that can be the difference between life and death for those in need.”

Stewart said he hopes other counties in the area will join with Prince William in calling for an investigation into the failure. Fairfax County officials have also called for an investigation into the 911 failure.

News
Chick-fil-A Reopens in Woodbridge

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — It’s a hot day outside the Chick-fil-A in Woodbridge and restaurant employee Michael Booth is directing traffic in the parking lot.

At this busy Woodbridge eatery, Boothe of Stafford, says it’s not unusual for him to direct traffic in and out of the parking lot, or to the drive-through window.

“I’ve never worked anywhere that someone had to direct traffic,” said Boothe.

Traffic cop is just one of his duties. On other days you can find him serving guests or working in the newly expanded kitchen.

Chick-fil-A on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge reopened for the first time in nearly a month Monday. It closed in early June for renovations that brought a new freezer and new refrigeration space, cookers, and a new salad preparation area to the kitchen.

“We didn’t want to close but we needed the extra room,” said restaurant operator Luis Hevia.

The popular eatery opened at 10:30 a.m. to a hungry lunchtime crowd. With no spaces left in the parking lot, diners chose to park their cars two blocks away in a larger parking lot outside a Bed Bath and Beyond store.

New office and storage space was also added to the restaurant. No changes were made to the dining room or playground area.

The expansion comes as plans to build a new Chick-fil-A in Dumfries and Lake Ridge have slowed. A new Chick-fil-A opened in Springfield earlier this year.

Chick-fil-A employee Michael Boothe directs traffic in and out of the busy restaurant on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge. (Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

 

 

News
Lake Ridge Jeweler Repairs Ring Turned Bottle Opener

Lake Ridge jeweler Fred Van Doren saves a piece of jewelry that was broken when used as a bottle opener.

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — There’s new life for a wedding band that was used as a bottle opener.

Lake Ridge jeweler Fred Van Doren said he spoke with a client who broke their wedding band while popping open a cold one. Van Doren took a look at the ring and noticed the breakage was caused by poor porosity.

“Porosity usually comes from using gold that is not sufficiently clean of other impurities or from gases interjected into the casting process. In this case the client had had the band made overseas where we see a lot of porosity issues arising from jewelers taking old gold to make new products without refining them first,” Van Doren posted to his Facebook page.

Van Doren repaired the band by annealing it, and then made a warning to other men who might have the same habit of cracking a cold bottle with their rings.

“Guys, don’t use your wedding band as a beer bottle opener. Not only will this save your ring it will probably save your marriage,” stated Van Doren.

Van Doren owns Van Doren Jewelers in The Glen Shopping Center at Prince William Parkway and Old Bridge Road.

 

News
Potomac River Crabhouse Expanding to Lake Anna

Tim Bauckman, proprietor of Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse in Dumfries, and Tim’s 2 at Fairview Beach in King George, will open a third location near Mineral, at Lake Anna. The new restaurant, Tim’s at Lake Anna, will offer high-quality family style dining options and a unique waterfront atmosphere unlike other area establishments.

“Tim’s at Lake Anna will be a year-round operation, and more of a destination restaurant than our other two locations on the Potomac River. We will be able to maintain our waterfront ambiance at this new location, and greatly expand on our offerings for our friends around Lake Anna,” said Bauckman.

“Our core menu items will be available, as will our selection of crabs that so many people come for. We will also have daily food specials to attract a wider range of customers,” said Bauckman.

Tim’s at Lake Anna is situated at The Boardwalk on Lake Anna, and allows diners to arrive by boat or car. The waterside restaurant features indoor and outdoor dining and has a large seating area on their deck overlooking the lake. Several large events are planned for their inaugural year.

One feature present at the new location will be a more expansive selection of wine choices. “We hope to eventually have an extensive wine menu and to partner with Virginia wineries to feature their wines,” said Bauckman.

Although an official opening date has not been announced, Tim and his partners have stated that they are nearing completion of their work to open the restaurant as quickly as possible. “We are located in a brand-new building and much of the interior walls, electrical, and flooring were not yet finalized when we made the decision to come to Lake Anna. We’ve had people working around the clock on this for months now and we’re very close to making an announcement,” said Bauckman.

-Press release

 

News
Workhouse Gets $55K Donation for Hot Glass

 LORTON WORKHOUSE ARTS CENTER 

LORTON, Va. — The Workhouse Arts Center received a $55,000 donation on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, to improve and grow the its new glass hot shop. The only glass blowing studio in Northern Virginia opened at the Workhouse in October 2011 under the leadership of Rick Sherbert, Director of Glass.

The studio and program have been wildly successful. On Wednesday, Ron Devine, of the Devine Family Foundation, presented Lorton Arts Foundation President & CEO John Mason with a $35,000 check from the Devine Family Foundation and a $20,000 matching donation from Richard Hausler, Chairman of the Lorton Arts Foundation Board.

The glass house will include a new glass blowing work station, improved student and classroom facilities, and other basic infrastructure improvements.

-Press release 

 

News
Verizon Keeps Caps on Basic Phone Service

If you still have a land line phone in your home or office, Virginia has reached a new agreement to cap the rising cost of service.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission announced today the extension of an agreement with Verizon to limit the increase on residential phone service to $1 per year. For businesses, the annual increase will be capped at $3 per year.

The caps are limited to basic local exchange phone service only and do not include features like caller ID, call waiting, and voice mail. The cap also does not apply to customers that have plans that bundle multiple features and services. About one third of Verizon’s customers still have basic service, according to a press release.

The original cap agreement has been in place since January 2008. The new agreement will be in effect until January 1, 2015.

 

News
Woodbridge Chick-fil-A Closing for June

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The busiest fast Chick-fil-A restaurant in the nation is closing its doors – at least for a little while.

Luis Hevia, owner-operator of the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge stood in his dining room Saturday telling customers the eatery would close at eight o’clock that evening and would remain closed for the rest of the month. He’s renovating his kitchen to better accommodate the volume of sales there.

The restaurant should be back in full operation by the beginning of July.

While Hevia doesn’t want his annual sales to be a thing of public record, he did say the restaurant is on par to do 250 percent more sales than the store was designed for.

“Closing is not something I want to do, but we need more room to keep serving our customers,” said Hevia.

The restaurant is consistently one of the busiest fast food destinations in the area, with a drive through queue of vehicles that circles the building. Employees must often stand outside to take orders and pass out signature sauces that pair with the chicken sandwiches served here.

Following the opening of a new Chick-fil-A in Springfield, there has been talk about opening new locations in the Potomac Communities – one in Lake Ridge and one near Dumfries – but those restaurants are at least two years behind schedule, said Hevia.

The Woodbridge restaurant was recognized earlier this year for being number one performing store in the chain.

 

News
Woodbridge’s AMC Theatres Sold

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — What’s described as China’s largest investor in cultural entertainment will now own Woodbridge’s largest movie theater.

AMC Theaters, which has 18 screens at Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge, will be acquired by Dalian Wanda Group Co., Ltd. The acquisition is part of a move that will give the Chinese firm control of all 346 multiplexes operated by AMC.

The $2.6 billion transaction will also give the Kansas City-based theater chain an additional $500 million to fund AMC’s operating initiatives, according to a press release.

The move comes less than a week after officials at Potomac Mills mall announced it will expand its retail offering, and will build an outdoor retail and restaurant complex that will span between the movie theatres and Costco. The expansion will include new restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, will connect to the mall, and should be complete this fall.

AMC also operates theaters in Alexandria and Washington.

 

News
Stafford Losing Retail Dollars

By URIAH KISER

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Government jobs have come, but retailers have long overlooked Stafford County. Now, a new report shows why.

Surrounded by expansive shopping districts like Fredericksburg’s Central Park and an expanding Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge, the report authored by the business consulting firm, The Riddle Company, estimates consumers spend $656 million each year outside of Stafford – where the demand for goods and services is estimated to be at $1.5 billion per year.

It’s a tough pill to swallow when the next wave of new developments in the region will be places to live, work, and play.

“All of our economic development and marketing efforts are carefully orchestrated to position Stafford County as a place where people can work at jobs that pay family-sustaining wages, as well as a community where people can enjoy their leisure time and dine and shop at locations of their choice,” said Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson in a press release.

Until now, retail is something county economic officials have failed to target. They’ve chosen instead to build on their location next to Quantico Marine Corps Base and have attracted leading technology and defense firms like Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ North America, ManTech International, and Intuit, all of which have passed over neighboring Prince William County to do trade in a jurisdiction that does not have a Business or Professional Licensing Tax.

By 2015, the average annual median household income in Stafford County is expected to be $108,000. It’ll be $103,000 in the county’s densely populated, suburban northern section, and $118,000 in the larger estate homes located in the mid-county courthouse area, the report states.

Based on those numbers, Stafford is ripe for stores like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joes, Williams & Sonoma, Aveda, and chain restaurants like Austin Grill, Cheesecake Factory, Bonefish Grill, or Gordon Biersch brew pub.

But Stafford is lacking dense areas of development and a traditional downtown, forcing drivers to use only a handful of congested roads like Interstate 95, U.S. 1, and Va. 610, or smaller, outdated two-lane roads to get where they’re going in rush hour traffic. That’s a turnoff for potential retailers. 

There are also long-standing, inaccurate perceptions about the county – even among longtime residents — that Stafford is a blue-collar economy and is lacking when compared to Fairfax and Loudoun counties, and Fredericksburg, the report states.

Those here enjoy a “country culture life on an urban fringe,” where 72 percent of the population is white. The amount of women with dollars to spend on children is high, and the number babies and school-age children even higher. But lacking is a creative and lively arts class of people normally found in more urban areas, the report states.

Economic factors also come in to play when looking at retail growth. Last year, Borders Books and Music declared bankruptcy and closed its doors at the Stafford Marketplace, and the redevelopment of the mixed-use Aquia Town Center – anchored by Northrop Grumman – has advanced at a staggering pace.

The report does outline growth opportunities, as a new website scheduled to be completed this year will be used to attract new retailers, showing market data and will “perpetuate positive media” and information.

Stafford’s cost of living, its high homeownership rate, affordable real estate, and newly completed projects like Stafford Hospital Center and Quantico Corporate Center should make the county appealing to retailers, according to the report.

 

News
New Training, Education Needed to Fill Open Jobs

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

MANASSAS, Va. — A top educator says there will be 500,000 – 600,000 job vacancies in Northern Virginia over the next few decades.

Northern Virginia Community College Dr. Robert Templin made the forecast Wednesday during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s education summit, and says it will be due to economic growth, mismatches in worker skill sets, and available jobs. Education is going to be a major player in expanding the county’s workforce, he added.

Templin, and other regional leaders, say the area needs to push for more innovative education programs, and job training.

Amy Harris, head of Northern Virginia Systemic Solutions, began the summit by signing a resolution to work with the chamber to expand educational programs, create internships, and provide job shadowing activities for the future workforce. This partnership also looks to expand STEM learning – an integrated approach to learning science and math — in public schools, to better equip students for careers, and help to prepare them for college.

“Our economy, in Northern Virginia, is becoming a thinking-based economy. Virtually all of those jobs are high wage, high education jobs. We can grow our workers – if we’re really smart, we’ll get to it now,” said Templin.

Northern Virginia Community College currently hosts a workforce and STEM based learning program, titled the Pathway to the Baccalaureate, which helps 7,000 children — particularly those in high risk categories — to move into the career field they want to pursue, guaranteeing the students admission in George Mason University.

George Mason University Assistant Provost of Graduate Education Dr. Michelle Marks said colleges must innovate to stay competitive and cater to the learning methods of the a generation of students by 2020. In this age group, where 50 percent of fifth graders own a cell phone, 90 percent play computer games and 26 percent use more than one form of media at once, college courses were going to need to become customizable, with curriculum and learning methods chosen and created by students, in a mainly virtual setting, said Marks.

Also at the event, three high school students were given $2,500 scholarships to the college of the student’s choosing. The three students; Hannah Weatherington, Hayley Lawrence and Brooks Martino, were chosen by a team of members from the Prince William Chamber for their academic excellence and community involvement.

News
Buffet Buys News & Messenger, Insidenova for $142 Million

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Manassas News and Messenger newspaper and insidenova.com will now owned by Warren Buffett.

Buffet’s investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway, purchased 63 newspapers from News and Messenger’s parent company, Media General Inc., which also owns the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The purchase includes community and weekly newspapers in Media General’s portfolio of papers in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama, according to a press release.

The media properties will now be owned by Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, BH Media Group which also affiliated with Omaha World-Herald Company. All 63 newspapers and their companion websites were sold. 

For Media General, the deal also means a $400 million term loan to pay off debt due in March, as well as a $45 million revolving line of credit for the company. Media General will also keep its TV stations, which accounted for 77 percent of its total cash flow in 2011.

The sale is expected to be complete by June 25. The company will keep its newspapers in the Tampa, Fla. Market.

In Northern Virginia, Media General owns News and Messenger, Stafford County Sun, insidenova.com, PW Business, as well as publishes Quantico Sentry and Belvoir Eagle.

 

News
Cheesecake Factory to Anchor Potomac Mills Renovation

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A new exterior renovation at Potomac Mills mall will bring Cheesecake Factory and a restaurant from famed TV chef, Bobby Flay.

The mall in Woodbridge announced the expansion Wednesday, saying that an area between the main entrance, Costco, and AMC 18 Theatres will be transformed into an outdoor walkway that will feature earthy designs and river stone. Construction on the renovation is expected to begin later this month and should be complete in November.

The announcement comes more than a year after Potomac Mills management reduced the number of parking spaces it allowed commuters and Slugs to use during the week, causing shockwaves in the commuting community for those who travel to and from Woodbridge and Washington for work. The newly renovated area will be located where commuters used to park.

Joining the Cheesecake Factory, which is known for seafood, burgers, and pasta, will be Bobby’s Burger Palace from Bobby Flay. It will offer 10 signature burgers, made with Certified Angus Beef, ground turkey or chicken breast.

Another restaurant rumored to be Bahama Breeze is also slated to come to the newly renovated mall, but an official announcement on exactly what that restaurant will be is expected later this year.

“These exciting new developments meet shopper demand, while adding another dimension to Potomac Mills’ unique brand of shopping,” said Potomac Mills General Manager Mike Sullivan in a press release. “Our impressive collection of new stores paired with these strong restaurants concepts and exterior enhancements will elevate our already celebrated shopping experience and be a strong catalyst to attract more local residents and visitors from around the world.”

The mall will also welcome a new anchor store, buybuy BABY and Christmas Tree Shops, both which currently have locations in Springfield and Glen Allen near Richmond, respectively.

Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th will also be relocated from its current location to a new location within the mall.

 

News
Top Home Sales in Eastern Prince William

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Woodbridge area has long harbored a reputation of having low home values, but this appears to be the year that changed.

According to varealestatetalk.com, the top home sales of the year so far in Prince William County have all been homes located in the eastern portion of the county. It’s a departure from years past when the highest valued homes were sold in developing neighborhoods in western Prince William County.

The biggest gaining neighborhoods in eastern Prince William in terms of home sales this year have been Beaver Creek, River Falls and Coventry Glen, according to the website.

The median home price in Woodbridge continues to hang around the $250,000.

While the area has long been known for its single family residential homes located near strip shopping centers, newer developments like Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center are rising and changing the landscape of the area.

News
Stonebridge Altering Woodbridge Landscape

WOODBRIDGE, Va. –– The closer you look at the plans for Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center the more you realize the landscape of Woodbridge is changing.

Dubbed a lifestyle center, the complex will mix 500 apartments with retail and office buildings. The designer, Roadside Development, is selling the property to retailers with stats like nearby average household incomes of $110,000, and 352,000 people within a 10-mile radius of the center.

The new center is a departure from strip malls developments that have long lined U.S. 1, as well as much of Prince William County.

MORE TO THE STORY: See the plans for Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center and where new retailers will be located.

Wegman’s grocery store opened at Stonebridge in 2008 and now attracts 50,000 per week, according to Roadside. More shops and restaurants have opened since then including local jeweler Quinns Goldsmith, but the developer is working on a second phase of the complex that is slated to include Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, Charming Charlie, Sport and Health Club, a Firebirds restaurant, and REI to name a few.

Last month, politicians toured the center to get a construction progress update. Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman turned Lt. Governor candidate Corey Stewart used the center as the backdrop to launch his campaign, calling the it the future of development in Prince William County.

Nearby longtime retail draw Potomac Mills mall looks like it will also add new attractions to it mix of retail and outlets stores. Rumors last week were spread online the retailer hopes to add Bahama Breeze and Cheesecake Factory restaurants to the center. A spokeswoman, however, quickly batted down those rumors stating they were not ready to discuss details of any new development.

Prince William Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank J. Principi talks with Economic Development Director, Jeff Kaczmarek, during a tour of Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center. (newwoodbridge.org)

News
Marlin and Rays Opens in North Stafford

NEW RESTAURANT COMES AS PARENT COMPANY SALES DOWN

By URIAH KISER

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — A new seafood restaurant chain aims to bring a bit of the beach to Garrisonville Road.

Marlin and Rays, a new concept restaurant from Ruby Tuesday, opened its doors in the Doc Stone shopping center this week. The new restaurant was converted from a Ruby Tuesday, a restaurant long known for their casual dining locations inside shopping malls and for their salad bar.

Marlin and Rays offers a mix of surf and turn on their menu, from Grouper to blackened chicken to sirloin steak. They also offer a line of “adult slushy” frozen drinks and happy hour specials in what appears to be an effort mix more flavorful drinks into the dining experience.

The restaurant is one of nine opened within the chain, which also includes a Marlin and Rays near Manassas on Va. 234.

The opening of Marlin and Rays comes at a time when sales are down at parent company Ruby Tuesday. According to their most recent earnings report, the chain founded in the 1972 has seen a loss in same-restaurant sales and has been forced to close at least one Ruby Tuesday, and plans to close 25 to 27 more Ruby Tuesday restaurants in the next quarter.

“We continue to be focused on controlling our costs and have made significant progress in both identifying and implementing cost-savings initiatives. Our annualized savings discussed last quarter, which are primarily in the areas of procurement, occupancy, and maintenance, are now estimated in the range of $35-$40 million, or approximately $20 million higher than our previous estimates. The majority of these savings will be reinvested into our marketing programs,” said Ruby Tuesday CEO Sandy Beall.

The company reports a net income $4.5 million third quarter sales, which is down five percent.

In an effort to boost the bottom line, Ruby Tuesday announced the purchase of Lime Fresh Mexican Grill for $24 million.

The company closed a Ruby Tuesday location at Potomac Mills mall, but a location at Aquia Town Center in North Stafford remains open.

News
Coach Expands at Potomac Mills

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Coach store at Potomac Mills mall, a boutique long known for carrying a wide array of women’s handbags and accessories has expanded to suit the handbag needs of men.

The expanded store in Woodbridge, in the mall’s fashion district, now spans 9,000 square feet and carries leather goods such as wallets, satchels, business and travel accessories, watches, and shoes, according to a press release from Potomac Mills.

Those who have shopped Potomac Mills during early openings of the mall on Black Friday in November know that long lines form to get in to the store that day – one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Coach, Inc. last week reported their third quarter earnings ending March 31. The company announced sales of $1.11 billion for the third fiscal quarter in 2012, with a new income $225 million.

 

News
Study: Cut Biz Taxes, Expand Sales Tax

By Brian Hill
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – The rich may be rich and the poor may be poor, but a nonpartisan think tank says there’s a way to eliminate state income taxes on the poorest Virginians while providing as much as a 10 percent tax cut to everyone else.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy on Friday unveiled a plan to restructure Virginia’s tax system – which the group says could generate substantial economic growth.

The nonprofit group’s report recommends slashing certain business taxes and income taxes while expanding the sales tax to currently untaxed services.

“By expanding the current sales tax to most of the industries that do not currently collect it from their end-user individuals, every individual taxpayer can be substantially helped,” said Michael Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute.

“The competitive business environment in Virginia can be enhanced, and our state and local governments would not lose a penny.”

The institute, based in Springfield, advocates a philosophy of “limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility.” Its new economic study, “Tax Restructuring in Virginia: Revenue Neutral Path for Improving Virginia’s Economy,” was prepared by Chmura Economics and Analytics, a Richmond consulting firm.

“Basically, this is a collaborative team effort,” Xiaobing Shuai, Chmura’s senior economist, told reporters during a telephone news conference. “What Chmura Economics did in this study is go through probably 100-plus sales tax exemptions, and then try to estimate the value of those sales tax exemptions.”

A computer model developed by economists at the Beacon Hill Institute, an independent public policy foundation at Suffolk University in Boston, tested various scenarios for overhauling Virginia’s tax system.

Nine economic scenarios were put through the tax model.

“We took Chmura’s numbers, which is a static model that doesn’t account for the positive economic benefits of the tax restructuring, and put them in our dynamic model and ran the nine scenarios that you see in the study,” said Paul Bachman, director of research at Beacon Hill Institute.

“The model resolves for new values, and we get new values for jobs, investment and disposable income. What we are doing, in economic terms, is shifting some of the tax burden away from businesses and households in some scenarios and putting it onto an untaxed service sector.”

Virginia currently exempts almost all services from sales taxes.

A major goal of the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s plan is to eliminate three taxes that businesses consider onerous and an impediment to creating jobs:

• The Business Professional Occupation Licensing tax, which is levied on gross receipts.

• The Machine and Tool tax, which is levied on equipment a business buys.

• The Merchants Capital tax, which is levied on a business’ inventory.

Virginia businesses must pay those taxes regardless of whether they make a profit. Thompson called them “job-destroying taxes,” saying they discourage businesses from expanding and hiring more employees.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute initiated its study to see if it was possible to eliminate those taxes and restructure the state’s tax system in a revenue-neutral manner that could improve Virginia’s economy.

The nine scenarios outlined in the study range from a relatively small impact to a radical overhaul.

The first scenario, for example, would simply eliminate the BPOL, M&T and Merchants Capital taxes and make up the revenue by extending the sales tax to certain currently untaxed services. The study said this would create 900 private-sector jobs.

Other scenarios suggested not only eliminating the three business taxes but also eliminating the lowest income tax bracket and cutting other personal income rates. Under these scenarios, the sales tax would be expanded to more services. In some scenarios, the sales tax would be cut, too. (It’s currently 4 percent for the state and 1 percent for local government.)

The scenarios did not specify exactly what types of services would be taxed. The study acknowledged that taxing medical bills, health insurance premiums, private school tuition and financial fees probably wouldn’t fly.

The more extensive scenarios would create at least 40,000 jobs, the study said.

“We know the facts in this new study and in our tax model will dramatically improve Virginia’s economy while giving every taxpayer a substantial reduction in their state income taxes,” Thompson said. “We encourage our leaders to pursue a sensible tax restructuring that can help everyone in our state.”

News
Prince William Chamber Praises BPOL Tax Relief

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Prince William Chamber of Commerce expressed strong praise for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors following a unanimous board vote to increase the BPOL (Business/Professional/Occupational/License) tax income threshold from $200,000 to $250,000. The new threshold will provide BPOL tax relief to companies with revenues of less than $250,000. The Board also directed County staff to engage the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 2,000 area businesses, in dialogue about initiating significant business tax reforms.

“Both of these decisions represent progress for the prosperity of our community. A balanced approach towards business taxation and regulation is essential to nurturing our robust rate of jobs creation and economic growth,” said Nancy Hiteshue, Prince William Chamber Director of Public Policy.

The Chamber has long advocated for BPOL reform at both the local and state levels. Hiteshue said that the group ultimately seeks elimination of the tax, which was originally instituted to help fund the war of 1812. At issue is the fact that is based on a company’s gross revenues rather than profits. Therefore, a business operating at a loss could still be liable for BPOL tax.

Read the entire press release.

News
New Restaurant Brings Chick-fil-A Mania

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — It’s not what you would expect to see in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant.

A makeshift open canopy city sprung up early Wednesday in Springfield filled with fans of Chick-fil-A restaurants, the so-called inventor of the chicken sandwich.

They brought sleeping bags, propane tanks, and their appetites for free food, which the first 100 people camped out here will get for an entire year – 52 coupons for free number one chickens sandwich combo meals.

Northern Virginia’s newest Chick-fil-A sits in a small shopping plaza on Backlick Road in Springfield. While it’s not a standalone restaurant like ones in Woodbridge and Stafford, it does have a drive-through lane. And a lot of hungry chicken lovers who camped out, as well as Chick-fil-A fans in the area, are expected to use it.

“We’ve got a lot of folks doing this for the first time. They hear about it from friends and then decide to come out. But some do this all the time, almost like NASCAR fans, you just see them go race to race to race – people are raving fans and are so excited about Chick-fil-A and getting more free food,” said restaurant spokeswoman Maggie Hammond.

Chick-fil-A preopening madness began in 2004 when the company began giving away free food to loyal fans. Hammond says $26,000 worth of free food will be given away at this grand opening event.

With the Springfield store included, the Atlanta-based company plans to open 96 new Chick-fil-A locations this year, creating more than 7,000 new jobs.

Kyle Warfield, number 99 of the first 100 in line that will win free food for a year, is no stranger to camping out for free Chick-fil-A. He came from Baltimore to wait Outside the Springfield store, but two weeks ago also camped for the grand opening of a Chick-fil-A in Maryland, where he was also awarded free food.

“I’m probably going to give some of [the chicken sandwiches] away. What am I going to do with 100 of these?”

Another waiting in line said his military background helped him prepare for sleeping outside for free chicken.

“I work nightshift anyway, and sleeping outside doesn’t bother me coming from military,” said Matthew Goldbitz of Fairfax.

The Springfield Chick-fil-A opened its doors for the first time at 6 a.m. today.

News
Cheesecake Factory Announcement Premature

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Apparently it was too soon to report that Cheesecake Factory and Bahama Breeze restaurants were coming to the Potomac Mills area.

Posted to Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi’s Facebook and Twitter pages this morning was an announcement that both popular restaurant chains were eyeing Woodbridge and could open as early as fall. The posted information, which was reposted to PotomacLocal.com’s social media profiles, had been removed from Principi’s Facebook page but remained on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.

“While we do have several exciting announcements coming down the pike in the next few weeks, at this point it is a bit premature to provide specifics. We have already spoken with Supervisor Frank Principi’s office, and they have retracted the information that was posted,” stated Potomac Mills mall spokeswoman Lauren Horsley.

Potomac Mills said they plan to release more information on new shops and restaurants coming to the area as details become available.

Last year, the popular shopping mall ended an agreement with Prince William County that allowed commuters to park at the mall’s front, underused parking lot on weekdays. The number of spaces at the lot was reduced from 1,000 to just 250, forcing commuters to find other places to park in the area.

At the time, Potomac Mills officials said they needed the additional spaces for new development.

 

News
Successes Shared at Prince William Business Awards

By URIAH KISER

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Dalena Kanouse never thought she would lead a company of 100 employees who work for a business started in her home by her husband.

But her husband passed away in 2009 leaving the business in her name, and Kanouse faced some challenges.

“I had no idea what I was doing other than supporting him,” said Kanouse, of the Dumfries-based Management and Training Consultants, Inc.

Now doing business in 24 states and three U.S. territories, the company is partnered with the National Guard and Central Texas College to help returning military service veterans get reacquainted to civilian life. Their non-clinical programs called “Boots to Books” and “Boots to Work” help returning service members cope with the everyday stresses of life.

Kanouse and her business partner, Kent Milliken, were nominated Wednesday by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce for Business of the Year award. MTCI didn’t win — that prize was award to Prince William Living Magazine — but they did attribute their successes this year to holding a new networking sessions, being involved in the chamber of commerce, and by working closely with other small businesses.

“There’s a number of businesses that are significantly smaller than us but look at us as being big. So, everything being relative, we’ll do anything we can to help the small business,” said Milliken.

That same spirit of helpfulness is also shared by Jen Jones who founded Alpha Pets Inc. in Lake Ridge. Jones won the chamber’s 2012 Business Award for Community Outreach. She volunteers with community groups like ACTS, and The ARC of Greater Prince William.

“With community outreach, our slogan at Alpha Pets is “professionals with a personal touch,” and that’s how we view our pet care business but that’s also how we view our community,” said Jones.

For her, it’s not enough to just make a simple donation to charitable organizations – she likes to get her hands dirty and volunteer.

“That’s how to build relationships, and that’s what we do when we volunteer. And, you know what, if do what you do well the [poor] economy doesn’t even bother you,” said Jones.

Alpha Pets was founded in 2009 and won Business of the Year in 2010. This was the company’s first award highlighting their community service efforts.

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