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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.

News
Stafford Tech Hub a Done Deal

STAFFORD, Va. – It’s official: Stafford County will have a new technology research park outside the bustling Quantico Marine Corps Base.

The new tech hub, Stafford Research Park at Quantico Corporate Center, will initially occupy 1,400 square feet on the third floor at 800 Corporate Center Drive in North Stafford. Within five years, a new 30 to 40,000 square foot building will be constructed at Quantico Corporate Center for a standalone building, as agreed upon in the details of this public-private partnership with Fredericksburg developer Silver Companies, Stafford County, University of Mary Washington, George Mason University, ManTech International, and Germanna Community College.

“It really shows everyone coming together with a shared vision, which is the most exciting thing about this…this is really starting to happen and I hope the Board agrees this is a big step to make and will support us…” said Stafford Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde.

According to plans outlined in county documents Silver Companies, which owns the developing corporate center near just outside Quantico Marine Corps Base, will contribute $315,000 toward the initial lease of 1,400 square feet of academic and/or business incubator space on the third floor at 800 Corporate Center Drive. Stafford County has contributed $600,000 for transportation improvements to the area, to allow for better traffic flow from U.S. 1 and nearby Telegraph Road, and will be faced with the task of staffing the center.

Officials said educational classes are already underway at the corporate center and will come with the addition of this new center.

News
Prince William Chamber Focuses on Clean Energy

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce have been invited to participate in a briefing call on Clean Energy: The Next Economic Development Solution The call, hosted by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy – a national network of chambers of commerce that connects local businesses with clean energy opportunities that can grow the nation’s clean energy economy.

The Prince William Chamber is a formative member of the group. Chamber President & CEO Rob Clapper is a member of the steering committee. on Thursday, April 5 at 11:00 a.m.

Member businesses are being encouraged to take part in the call where they will learn about how to get ahead of the clean energy movement, including creating clean energy clusters, incubators and other solutions. They will find out how local chambers of commerce can take advantage of current clean energy economic development potential.

“We are pleased to be on the leading edge when it comes to growing the nation’s clean energy economy,” said Rob Clapper, President & CEO of the Prince William Chamber. “Our involvement in the Chamber for Innovation and Clean Energy underscores our commitment to creating jobs while promoting the energy resources and innovations that exist here in Prince William.”

Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy is an active network of more than two-dozen chambers of commerce from across the nation, more than 35,000 160 chambers of commerce representing more than 163,000 businesses. This growing network was created and is led by chambers of commerce, with the goal of driving business innovation and accelerating American competitiveness through clean energy initiatives. Thursday’s call is a first step in providing valuable information, tools and best practices for member businesses to grow their bottom line while pursuing local, state and national clean energy incentives.

For more information about the Prince William Chamber and other ways the group is stimulating economic opportunity in Northern Virginia, go to www.pwchamber.org. For more information about the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, go to www.chambersforinnovation.com.

-Press release

News
New Marumcso Shops Approved

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — New shops are coming to Marumsco Plaza as part of ongoing revitalization efforts in Woodbridge.

Prince William County Supervisors unanimously approved special use permits for a Walgreens Pharmacy, a Pollo Campero restaurant, and a new BB&T Bank that will be built at the shopping center. Each of the new buildings will have drive-through lanes, which were not permitted under current commercial zonings at the plaza.

The new shops will be built in the existing sprawling parking lot of Marumsco Plaza on U.S. 1. — a one-time shopping mecca that is undergoing a renovation. New construction of shops that will occupy the northern section of the shopping center’s parking lot is already underway.

Of the three newly approved shops, the restaurant will sit near the center of the parking lot, and the bank and pharmacy will sit closer to East Longview Drive, where an old Five Guys restaurant was located. The shops will join a locally-owned grocer Todos Supermarkets, which recently moved into to an old Giant Food location inside the plaza.

“We are all very excited about the revitalization of Marumsco Plaza in Woodbridge, its’ called a new Woodbridge,” said District Supervisor Frank Principi.

New improvements to the entrance of the shopping plaza are also coming. Developers will remove what some residents and officials referred to as a “gully” or deep groove in the pavement at the plaza’s East Longview Drive entrance. More capacity will also be added to East Longview Drive where it intersects with U.S. 1 and Prince William Parkway.

While planners and officials say the shopping center is on an upswing, neighbors urged its owners not to rest on their laurels.

“The revitalization of Marumsco Plaza can be a trend setter and the gold standard for North Woodbridge. We see numerous signs of activity along this stretch of Route 1, as well as improvements to Route 1 itself, and we encourage the owners of the plaza to set their sights high, and make the plaza one to be envied and copied as other properties are redeveloped,” said Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association Chairman John Karhnak. “Don’t stop at ‘good enough’ or ‘that’s all that is required’ – make the plaza look like a place we and others will want to go and stay a while.”

A stretch of U.S. 1 between Mary’s Way to the Occoquan River will be widened from four to six lanes. Marumsco Plaza sits just outside the area identified for widening. Developers of the new shops proffered the land right-of-way for the future widening of the commuter highway in front of the shopping plaza.

News
Revitalizing Marumsco Plaza

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Three new businesses have their eyes set on Marumsco Plaza in Woodbridge. If they have their way, you’ll be able to stop in or simply drive through.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will hold public hearings on whether to allow the new shops — a Pollo Campero restaurant, a Walgreens Pharmacy, and a BB&T Bank – to be built in the area and have them to include drive-through lanes.

The county’s planning commission has given approval of the three new facilities to be built in the parking lot of Marumsco Plaza, which sits in the heart of Woodbridge’s busy U.S. 1 corridor. The Board of Supervisors must give final approval.

The bank and pharmacy would be located near the intersection of U.S. 1 and East Longview Drive, the former site of A Five Guys restaurant. the Pollo Campero restaurant would sit further north in the parking lot, according to county documents.

The shopping center already features a BB&T Bank branch with a drive-through teller complex in the parking lot and a walk-in bank inside the plaza. A newly constructed BB&T Bank at Marumsco Plaza would stand alone.`

The shopping center along busy U.S. 1, once the go-to shopping destination along the corridor, has seen a decline in business. However, in the past two years, Todos Supermarkets opened a new location in the plaza, as did a furniture retailer, and the Virginia ABC relocated a store to the shopping center which recently had its façade redone.

The shopping center sits in a redevelopment district inside the Potomac Communities. To improve traffic flow in the area, county officials plan to widen U.S. 1 between Mary’s Way – near the north end of Marumsco Plaza’s parking lot – and the Occoquan River.

Also in Woodbridge, officials will widen U.S. 1 between Neabsco Creek and Featherstone Road. Construction is expected to cost $30 million and take 24 months to complete.

News
Chamber Scholarship Deadline Extended

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Prince William Chamber has extended the deadline for its 2011-2012 Scholarship Program. Application packages are now due to the Chamber no later than Monday, March 19.

Through this program three scholarships of up to $2,500 each will be given to high school seniors who have shown a commitment to academic excellence and community involvement. Additionally, to be eligible, students must be an employee of a Chamber member company or the dependent of an employee.

“We have long supported academic success and giving back to the community through our scholarship program. Now, we are also able to reward the members of our local business community for all that they do to enhance the economy and quality of life in the Prince William region,” said Prince William Chamber President and CEO Rob Clapper.

The Prince William Chamber is the largest chamber in the Metro Washington, DC area, representing nearly 2,100 organizations and their more than 90,000 employees. Clapper noted that every employee of a member company is in fact a member of the Chamber, and can take part in programming and services.

“We look forward to learning more about the extraordinary young people living and working right here in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park and helping them to achieve educational success,” said Clapper.

Information on the scholarship, including the full criteria and application packet can be found at pwchamber.org by clicking the “Scholarship Info” button. The Chamber will also host its annual Frostbite Scramble golf event and luncheon on March 21 to raise funds for the program.

Members of the public are invited to participate. Registration information can be found online under “events” or by calling 703-368-6600.

-Press release

News
Pr. William Hires New Economic Development Director

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — After a nationwide search, Jeffrey A. Kaczmarek has been named the Economic Development Director for Prince William County because of his expertise, experience and documented successes in local economic development efforts. The Board of County Supervisors approved his hire during a special meeting on March 5, 2012, and he is expected to begin work April 2, 2012.

“Economic Development is a key strategic priority for the Board of County Supervisors,” said At-large Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart. “We have become one of the top areas for job growth in the country, and Mr. Kaczmarek has the talent and proven track record to allow us to continue our success.”

Kaczmarek comes to Prince William County from Kansas City, Mo., where he served as the President and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City from 2005-2011.

During his time in Kansas City, Kaczmarek had several accomplishments:

-Announced 135 projects with $2.1 billion in private sector investment and 14,000 new jobs;
-Oversaw a $4 million budget, with a 30-member agency;
-Helped to develop a new marketing brand for Kansas City – “America’s Creative Crossroads;”
-Developed a life sciences cluster in Kansas City, including the creation of an animal health corridor;
-Provided technical support to technology driven projects, including animal health, alternative energy and information technology;
-Facilitated the opening of a biotechnology micro-incubator;
-Launched the KCBizCare initiative to retain existing businesses and increase job growth; and
-Worked to develop partnerships with the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Council of Kansas City.

News
Newspaper Company Seeks to Shed Print Division

News & Messenger is published five days per week and serves Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.

Prince William County, Va. — The parent company of the News and Messenger announced today it is looking to sell some of its newspaper properties.

Richmond-based Media General, Inc., which owns the local newspaper and its companion website, Insidenova.com and the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Tampa Tribune, stated the company is exploring the potential sale of newspaper operations. No specific newspapers in its collection of community and metro newspapers predominantly located in the southeast U.S. were named, and no timeframe was given as to when the properties could be sold.

In addition to newspapers, Media General also owns several TV and internet properties.

News & Messenger and Insidenova.com covers Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.

Media General changed the name of the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger to News & Messenger in 2008, consolidating both papers. Late last year, the Manassas-based newspaper reduced the number of days in circulation from seven to five days per week.

The organization in recent months has put more focus on its web presence, branding its web and print publications as part of the “Insidenova Network,” which includes staffordcountysun.com, belvoireagle.com, quanticosentryonline.com and their respective companion print publications.

Editor’s note: PotomacLocal.com publisher Uriah Kiser was a Media General employee from 2006 to 2010 and worked at News & Messenger and Insidenova.com.

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