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Route 1 name change could cost small businesses thousands

Jefferson Davis Highway at Neabsco Mills Road in Woodbirdge {Photo: Prince William County]

WOODBRIDGE — A proposal to rename Route 1 in Woodbridge would end up costing small business owners.

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi on Tuesday introduced an ordinance that would, in part, rename Jefferson Davis Highway in eastern Prince William County, the road named after the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The four-lane thoroughfare is lined with small and medium-sized businesses and restaurants that would not only have to go back and reproduce printed marketing materials to list a new address but would also have to revamp their web presence and search engine optimization.

“It would be a major headache, and it would create a lot of work for small business owners,” said Scot Small, CEO of RevBuilders Marketing.

Small, a member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, said it would take the average small business owner about 300 hours to change not only their company website, but the more than 100 other sites that list their name and address to include the Yellow Pages, and Yelp.

Small said a marketing company like his could charge $100 an hour or more to make the changes all at once. But what would be more budget friendly to small business owners would be for them to hire a subscription service offered by companies like Yext that make the changes over time, for $50 to $60 per month.

“It’s also important to take into account for how Google would react to the change,” said Small.

If the highway name is changed, Google will update its data, and small business owners who may have shelled out thousands of dollars for search engine optimization service in the past to improve their ranking on the popular search engine could suddenly see their rankings decline, he added.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors is set to discuss the name change at its Sept. 19 meeting.

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