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Lost Towns: Where was Minnieville and Smoketown?

In the nearly 300 years since the first European settlement in what is now Prince William County, scores of communities have dotted the landscape. (more…)

Stratford University students participate in Flory Center Start Up Workshops

The Flory Small Business Center, Inc. continues to offer free monthly workshops to entrepreneurs that are in the start-up phase of their business. The center is pleased to announce that their Start Up Workshops are being utilized by a substantial number of students from Stratford University’s Woodbridge Campus along with residents of Prince William County, the Cities of Manassas Park and Manassas, as well as surrounding counties. (more…)

DefCon Cyber on alert in Prince William, protecting critical assets

The time from when a cyber attacker can access a company’s internal systems to the time the company responds is about 204 days or about seven months. Many agencies rely on email alerts to notify them of network intrusions, but they don’t always work. (more…)

Manassas businesses shine, take home top awards

On Thursday evening Feb. 25, 2016 the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 5th annual business awards dinner at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas to honor the best of the local business community. Awards recognize excellence in business, innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.

(more…)

A corporate promotion or beer? Growling Bear chose beer

Ask anyone who works with me on a regular basis and they’ll be the first to tell you – I’m not a detail guy.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my first college business was that details matter (a painful lesson).

This was probably why, as I grew out of my first keg delivery business and looked for the next business opportunity, opening my own craft brewery never made my list. Ingredients, mixtures, exacting recipes… I’ll leave that to the experts.

With over 100 breweries and growing, the craft beer industry is alive and well in Virginia. One of the newest breweries is right here in our Potomac Local region: Growling Bear Brewery.

Growling Bear Brewery is a veteran and woman owned microbrewery owned by Mike and Corinne Bliven. Their 2BBL German Brewhouse helps them serve up 10-12 beers on tap year round.

Their beers is made from whole grains with an emphasis on organic all-natural ingredients sourced from the part of the world where the beer is native whenever possible.

As a former Air Force NCO, Mike knows a thing or two about the importance of details, and he has the skills to match. Mike hand-made a lot of the furniture and even the bar itself. Quite impressive stuff!

Even the serving tray for the tasters is in the shape of a bear claw cut from steel and made to exacting standards (just don’t drop it on your foot).

I sat down with Mike and asked him about his experience starting his craft brewery:

growlingbearphoto

Rod: Why did you start your business?

Mike: Our love for craft beer started in 1997 when we were first introduced to a splendid Irish Red Ale brewed at the Original Saratoga Brewpub in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

We had such a great experience there that I began reading and inquiring about home brewing in my spare time. For Christmas that year, I got my first home brew kit. Then we started planning vacations around breweries: Boston to tour Sam Adams Brewery, even Belgium to venture into the farm ales and wits. Our taste kept evolving as more options became available and our passion for beers deepened.

In December of 2013 my corporate career came to a crossroads forcing me to make a choice: take a promotion with more responsibility or go make beer. By then my abilities, knowledge and skills in brewing were well rounded, so we decided to take a chance and start the planning phase of Growling Bear Brewery.

 

Rod: Why did you name it Growling Bear Brewery?

Mike: Growling Bear is the nickname some people use for me.

 

Rod: What do you love most about your business?

Mike: Meeting all kinds of people, young and old, and providing them with a great beer in a great atmosphere. I love building that sense of community that makes craft breweries so unique.

 

Rod: What is key to your success?

Mike: We never cut corners. Every step is important. And we use ingredients that are native to each type of beer.

 

Rod: What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Mike: Working with the [ATF] to get all the right permits was a bit of a challenge.

Fortunately, we have a great landlord who was very supportive and understanding during the process.

 

Rod: What is a piece of advice you’d like to share with other potential business owners?

Mike: Start a business that you are passionate about and stay true to yourself and your art!

Growling Bear Brewery is located at 14051 Crown Court in Woodbridge.

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Momentum Aerospace Group takes on the world’s most difficult problems

From a sinking ferry on a great lake in Africa, 14 lives were saved.

Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle above Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo in summer 2015, a sensor operator sitting next to the pilot noticed a sinking ferry 40 nautical miles from shore.

“We joke around and say he used the “force” because he’s not a maritime guy, not former Navy or solider,” said Joe Fluet, CEO of Momentum Aerospace Group (MAG).

A total of 21 people were aboard the ferry that was capsizing in the lake. The drone operators had been on a reconnaissance mission seeking out intelligence on an insurgent group on the other side of the great lake. They deviated from the mission, took another pass near the sinking ferry and provided the geo-location position data of the doomed boat to the Congolese coast guard.

“In much of the world, when ferries sink everybody dies because there are no radios, no way to get rescue and no way to contact anybody. Those 14 people got to go home and be with their families that night,” said Fluet.

That was a memorable day for MAG; a six-year-old company Fluet founded shortly after retiring from the Army Reserve. Now with more than 600 employees on five continents, operating about 100 aircraft, the company headquarters sits in Woodbridge, Va.

MAG has become the hub for people who want to work in remote areas of the world, taking on difficult challenges, with the mindset of “country first.”

“We’re not a lifestyle company,” Fluet said. “The happy MAG employee has two things in life: work and family. Someone who wants to come in at nine and leave at five won’t do well at MAG because they won’t be happy.”

Checking and responding to emails late at night, and working on projects on weekends is just the beginning of the workload for the type of employees MAG attracts.

The reward for this work is high. “MAG pays above market for most positions”, said Fluet. “There’s also the satisfaction in a job well done, with a focus of a mission is to “make the world smaller and a safer place.” His company’s interests align with those of the U.S., and he expects the same kind of patriotism from his employees.

Before founding his company, Fluet was tasked in 2004 by the Pentagon to set up the very first Aviation Special Operations Unit in Afghanistan. After two tours in the Army and now with the Army Reserve and National Guard, Fluet was tapped for the project because of his experience in the cockpit.

fluet4He spent one year in Afghanistan, where he called on the help of several contractors to get the job done. Unimpressed with the”mercenary” attitudes of many, the contractors he worked with were more about getting paid than providing a service to their country.

“I was unhappy with the contractors I hired at the time,” said Fluet. “I genuinely believed I could do it better than what I’d seen.”

When MAG began, Fluet found himself in Washington, D.C. almost on a daily basis, in meetings, providing support and winning contracts. Better communications technology today means he and his employees can work better remotely. His presence in D.C. has significantly diminished.

He chose to locate in Prince William County because of its business-friendly climate and proximity to the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir Army Base and Marine Corps Base Quantico. There’s also plenty of military service members in the area to make it feel like home.

“I went for a run one morning, stepped out onto my block, and I counted 11 American Flags outside of houses,” said Fluet. “Where else do you see that?”

More companies like his are locating to Prince William County because there’s Class A office space for 25% less than the cost of similar spaces in Northern Virginia. MAG will continue pursuing business from the military, U.N., and NATO, all while working in more remote and non-permissive areas across the globe.

The region took notice of MAG earlier this month when Fluet took home a 2016 SmartCEO Future 50 Award. The ceremony recognizes the region’s fastest-growing mid-size companies. Collectively, Future 50 CEOs employ more than 8,000, and have a cumulative $2.3 billion revenue.

It’s difficult to list what MAG does in a 15-second elevator speech. Fluet says that’s both a curse and a blessing.

“If you hired me to fly to you to Indianapolis because you needed to interview someone there, I’m happy to do that for you. But there are literally 5,000 companies that can do that. I would prefer to be hired to conduct aerial surveillance in Yemen. Not a lot of companies can do that.”

This promoted post is written by Potomac Local under an agreement with Prince William County Department of Economic Development to showcase business in the region.

Winning spinach and chorizo soup now on Manassas menu

A frigid winter evening didn’t hold people back from coming to historic downtown Manassas for the 2nd Annual Souper Bowl, Friday, Feb. 5.

Crowds filled the sidewalks and shops as they explored downtown and tasted 13 different soups. In the end there had to be a winner, and this year’s Souper Bowl Champion was Mariachi’s Tequileria & Restaurant with their homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup, featured at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory.

Mariachi’s is a new restaurant in Manassas opening just over a month ago in the old City Square Café location on Battle Street. They featured two soups at this year’s event – the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup as well as a spinach and chorizo soup.

Originally, the spinach and chorizo soup wasn’t a regular menu item, but after such positive praise at the Souper Bowl, owner Antonio Escamilla added it to the restaurant’s daily menu.

“We’ve had a few different groups of people come in since the Souper Bowl, saying they learned about us and our location after attending the event,” Escamilla said. Mariachi’s is owned by Escamilla, Rafael Martinez, and Primo Castlan who says their goal was to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and traditions to downtown Manassas – “it’s the food your grandmother would make” said Escamilla.

Every Friday and Saturday night a live mariachi band performs in the restaurant but on this First Friday they traveled to both Calico Jack’s and the Center for the Arts to supply an added ambience as attendees sampled the soups from both locations.

Head chef L. Fernando Babadilla says the key to the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup is his homemade tortilla recipe that he has had perfected for nearly five years. Chef Fernando’s secret to the spinach and chorizo soup – homemade chorizo. The chorizo mixed with the creaminess of the spinach makes for a soup packed with flavors everyone can enjoy.

This year’s Souper Bowl saw nearly a 20 percent increase in attendance with many already talking of their excitement for next year’s event.

It was a great kickoff for this year’s series of First Fridays, the next of which is Friday, March 4. Don’t forget to mark your calendars and come out to enjoy a fun evening in historic downtown Manassas! For a comprehensive list of events going on in Manassas this year, go to www.visitmanassas.org.

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Trust me. You want to be a failure first

It’s fun to see a group of small business owners form a group, grow, and learn together.

These folks wear multiple hats, juggle multiple tasks, work with multiple people, many times across multiple platforms.

There is little if anything small about the “small” business owner. At One Degree Captial, we refer to them as “significant” business owners, because, to them, the decisions they make and actions they often take involve a high level of risk or giant leap of faith.

A group of significant business owners came together, as they do each Wednesday morning, to talk about their challenges. The group, 1 Million Cups Prince William, celebrated its 2-year anniversary of helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

The topic of the milestone meeting was one few like to discuss: Failure. Sure, we all read, and watch success stories on TV. Everybody loves a winner.

The fact is, all winners failed before they won. In many ways, success is how we deal the with failure, what we learn from it, and how we move on.

Many say we live in the “information age,” or the “computer age.”

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, recently told his team members “adapt or else.”. We often hear that we live in the “information age” or “big data” is here today. It might be better said that we are in the “Learning Age.”

It’s important that we learn to try and fail, but never fail to try.

It’s also important that we learn to fail, and fast. Time is a precious commodity, and it’s heartbreaking to know you kept a project or a relationship going beyond the point of no return. The time lost, well, it is just that.

To avoid this, start simple and map out where you want your business to go. What are your goals? Identify whose lives you can make better if they use your product or service. Start small and be specific.

The people in which you surround yourself must support what you do. They are your support system.

It’s been said you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Surround yourself with learners and builders, and establish a relationship with a mentor or board of advisors. They will be there when needed to help us understand when we should pull the plug on a project, or pivot to move in another direction.

Bruce Waldack, president of digitalNATION, always had some small products and projects in the works. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t.

The important thing is to get up and try. It’s no secret the theme song for entrepreneurs should be Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping. You know the one: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.”

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

To care for seniors, ‘we go in the snow’

For 96 hours the team repeated one mantra — “We go in the snow.”

The blizzard that crippled the Washington, D.C. region Jan. 22 to 25, 2016 halted business and travel in our area. But for some of our area’s most needy residents — seniors who are home alone — the storm didn’t stop CAREGivers from Home Instead Senior Care in Manassas.

“The first thing we did was line up our cars,” said Gail Earhart, relationships manager at Home Instead. “We have five our fleet, but only two can go in the snow.”

The company rented one car to replace the cars that couldn’t go in the snow, and brought in two large SUVs from a friend. They were used to take CAREGivers to clients homes, and to take them back again.

Despite the 2-feet of snow that fell, Home Instead was able to serve 117 clients, 75% of its customer base for the weekend, to provide in-home care.

“We have customers that called and said ‘look, I’m in New Mexico, my mother is alone, what are you going to do ensure you get there?” said Earhart.

Home Instead matches the right CAREGiver to the right senior who lives at home. They help seniors by cooking, do light cleaning, making sure basic needs are met, and by merely providing them someone to talk to.

Sometimes, especially on weekends, someone may have a friend or loved one who lives in the area who may stop by to sit with the client, and the client may not need Home Instead’s services for that day.

However, the many seniors that Home Instead cares for may not have someone nearby. Especially when two feet of snow falls in the area.

Home Instead employees spent five days at the office during the snowstorm. They blew up mattresses to sleep on the floor, and drove SUVs to pick up CAREGivers, brought them to see their clients, and took them home again.

“At one point, we picked up two to three CAREGivers at a time in Woodbridge and bringing then across the county to care for their clients in Manassas,” said Earhart.

The wheels on the Home Instead SUVs were always turning during the storm.

“We know our clients have to be seen, and we’re going to everything it takes to get them there,” said Earhart.

This paid promotional post was written by Potomac Local in collaboration with Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas, serving Prince William and Fauquier counites.

Go green and refill your Manassas Olive Oil bottles

Did you know you can return and refill your old olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles for a discount, and go green at the same time?

Manassas Olive Oil customers can now return and recycle their used oil bottles.

“The glass bottles we give you, you can refill them as long as they’re brought back clean and dry and refilling them gives you a 10% discount,” said Manassas Olive Oil General Manager Cameron Thompson.

Manassas Olive Oil says recycling old bottles is better for the environment because it keeps empties out of landfills and off sides of the road. (more…)

City of Manassas companies receive ‘Excellence in Business’ nominations

This post is written by the City of Manassas as part of a paid content partnership between the City and Potomac Local to showcase businesses and economic development.

EXCELLENCE — most commonly defined as a talent or characteristic which is unusually high quality and which exceeds the average. It is often invoked, repeatedly strived for, but rarely achieved. 

On Feb. 25, 2016 two dozen Manassas City businesses will vie for this coveted designation during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards dinner.  The awards recognize excellence in business, including categories for innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.    

Nominees include tech firms, fine dining restaurants, and government contractors from both the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park as well as from Prince William County.  They are small businesses, large employers and everything in between.    

Some have just recently opened their doors –like CJ Finz, while others have been around for more than 20 years, as is the case with Carmello’s and Little Portugal.  Both are located in Historic Downtown and both are nominated for “Outstanding Customer Service.”  (more…)

Celebrate Black History Month with Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division

Prince William County has a unique and extensive African American history that is preserved and interpreted through its surviving buildings. 

Throughout the county’s history, many enslaved African Americans worked at plantations throughout the county including Rippon Lodge and Ben Lomond. 

At Brentsville, both enslaved and free African Americans were placed on trial where they were not able to testify against their white neighbors because they were considered second class citizens. 

At Lucasville and the Barnes House, free African Americans after the Civil War built homes and communities to establish a life for themselves as free citizens, where they began to challenge racism and segregation.  (more…)

1 wrong letter cost $2,000, ruined a friendship

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

As I mentioned in my last article, my keg delivery business taught me the value of being diversified.

My very determined competitors helped me learn that one (did they really have to flatten all FOUR tires?)

By my second year in business, I had added custom-printed shirts to my service offering. That addition helped me learn another valuable business lesson: the importance of details. A very expensive lesson as it turned out.

College campuses back in the 80s – as now – had a lot of parties.

Back then, custom shirts were not as readily available as they are today. There was no Internet to order from, and FedEx was in its infancy. (more…)

Have Your Next Group Event at Manassas Olive Oil

This is a sponsored column written by Potomac Local for Manassas Olive Oil

The Manassas Olive Oil Company was founded on the notion that great olive oil should be shared with others.

Alex and his daughter Amanda, both military veterans, opened their shop on Grant Avenue in Manassas to share their passion for fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegar with their friends in thier sunlit tasting gallery.

A tasting is now an event that you can share with your friends and family. Manassas Olive Oil is available for bachelor parties, after-hour night time events, and culinary shows.

Becuase of Manassas Olive Oil, more people in and around Manassas are having fun while tasting delicious oils and vinegar. Recently, Manassas Olive Oil shared partnered with Love, Charley for a First Friday event featuring free tastings, raffles, and coupons. (more…)

Threats, slashed tires challenges for beer keg delivery service

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

When I tell people about One Degree Capital, I often hear things like “Oh, I’d love to start my own business doing ‘XYZ’ someday.”

To the outsider, it often looks easy to own a business. The reality is that business owners face challenges and surprises all the time. It takes a lot of perseverance to overcome them and be successful.

My lessons in perseverance came to me early in life. I started my first business as a sophomore at Miami University, where I discovered an opportunity to help solve a disturbing problem in the community.

The two-lane, windy highway between small-town Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami of Ohio – go Hawks!), and the nearby City of Hamilton had been nicknamed “The Highway To Heaven” because so many college students died traveling that road. Students regularly drove to Hamilton to pick up kegs of beer for parties from local distributors. Sadly, many drove under the influence, which added to the trouble. (more…)

Dumfries will cleanup Quantico Creek

This post was submitted and paid for by the Town of Dumfries to inform residents about community events. 

The Town of Dumfries has planned to participate in two events this April focused on fostering environmental awareness and sustainability.

Please join us as we strive to improve water quality and promote storm water management practices through our Quantico Creek Cleanup and the Keep Prince William Beautiful Festival.

28th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

On April 16, the Town will participate in the 28th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Through this annual cleanup, participants from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC gather at various sites to cleanup portions of the Potomac River Watershed.

Last year, almost 24,000 volunteers joined together to support the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. The Town eagerly awaits the opportunity to once again participate in this event by engaging residents to cleanup Quantico Creek, a tributary to the Potomac. Volunteers will meet at the Simpson Community Center located at 17755 Main St. Dumfries, VA 22026 at 8:30 am on the day of the event.

Keep Prince William Beautiful Festival

Join the Town on April 23 at the 2016 Keep Prince William Beautiful Festival. This festival is sponsored by a local environmental non-profit, Keep Prince William Beautiful, in partnership with the Potomac Nationals. Admission to the event is free and will feature community businesses and vendors, educational showcases on recycling, litter awareness, beautification and water preservation, music from local artists, food trucks and more!

The Town will have a booth displaying brochures about storm water management initiatives and actions residents can take to help improve local water quality. The festival will be held at G Richard Pfitzner Stadium located at 7 County Complex Ct. Woodbridge, VA 22192 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, please visit our website at www.dumfriesva.gov or contact the MS4 Coordinator, Shaina Schaffer, at sschaffer@dumfriesva.gov.

Dumfries events: Black History celebration, Easter Egg Hunt

This post was submitted and paid for by the Town of Dumfries to inform residents about community events. 

On Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, the Town of Dumfries will be hosting our Annual Black History Month Celebration at the Little Union Baptist Church located at 17150 Mine Road in Dumfries.

This ceremony will feature guest speaker Reverend Michael Sessoms, from Little Union Baptist Church as well as Ms. Phyllis Aggrey, Executive Director of the Prince William County Human Rights Commission. Ceremonies will begin at 11:00 a.m. and will feature performances by the Little Union Baptists Men’s Choir and the Dumfries Elementary Chorus.

A reception will follow immediately after the service at Little Union Baptist Church. (more…)

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