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Jan. 20, 2014

In This Issue

• Moran's Retirement
• Tech Tax Incentives
• Lunch Business Blues
• Arlington Startups Score VC Investments
• And more...

Excuse our Typos!

In our haste to get you the freshest local business information, a typo or two may make it through. Please forgive us as we work to improve our still-new editorial process.

Events This Week

Moran's Retirement to Impact Local Economy?

Over his 12 terms in office, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been able to steer federal dollars, contracts and contractors to Arlington and other parts of his Northern Virginia district. 

Moran's seniority on the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee will be lost when he retires early next year. Will the loss of clout in the halls of Congress hurt Arlington economically? Will there be considerably fewer dollars flowing to the 8th Congressional District and its employers? Probably not, says George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller.

"We will not have the influence in Congress that we had under his watch," but there will be "no measurable impact" on the local economy, Fuller said.

It will, however, take a while for Moran's replacement to get up to speed and to build influence. And the district's new member of Congress will have big shoes to fill.

Fuller, who says Moran regularly checks in with him for economic data, called the Congressman "a hard-working, blue collar person" who's "committed to getting work accomplished" and who knows "how to cut deals."

"He is a data hound," Fuller said of Moran. "He really does pay attention to local matters."

Arlington Mulling Business Tax Incentives

Earlier this week reported that Arlington County is "considering tax incentives and other methods to try to encourage businesses to grow — and, just as importantly, stay — in Arlington."

We're now getting a bit of additional insight into the nature of those proposed tax incentives.

While "nothing's on paper yet," the tax incentives are expected to be "a very small facet" of Arlington's overall economic development plan, according to Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O'Donnell. The incentives will deal with "technology zones" in the county, O'Donnell said -- but so far it's unclear what those technology zones are.

Additional details about the tax incentives may be available by mid-week, we're told.

Lunch Business Blues

Except for certain lucky establishments in office-heavy parts of Arlington like Crystal City, Rosslyn and Ballston, restaurants in Arlington are singing the lunch business blues.

This past week, BGR: The Burger Joint closed up shop in Clarendon. Its general manager told us last year that lunch business turned out to be much slower than expected. Also last week, Eamonn's on Columbia Pike announced that it would be relaunching as Society Fair and would refocus on the breakfast business. We hear that Eamonn's and other newer Columbia Pike restaurants have struggled due to nearly non-existent lunch business.

In Rosslyn, where chains like Chipotle and Chop't are packed around lunch time, things still aren't as rosy for the brick-and-mortars as they once were. Food trucks park up and down Lynn Street, and often generate big lines at lunchtime. The restaurants, particularly Chop't, have battled the food trucks by phoning in parking violations to the police department and by prodding the previous leadership of the Rosslyn BID to press for additional food truck regulations. The effort ultimately failed: Arlington County loosened its parking regulations for food trucks last year and we haven't heard of many food truck parking violation calls lately.

Despite the lack of lunch patrons and the competition from food trucks, new restaurants are still entering the market hoping to become a go-to destination for hungry office workers. The new Four Sisters Grill in Clarendon -- expected to open next month -- is hoping that a combination of quick service, healthy food and low prices is the magic formula to draw the elusive lunch patron.

New Initiative Hopes to Draw Security Tech Firms

This month, Arlington Economic Development launched Tandem NSI, an initiative to bring national security technology product companies together with government agencies and universities.

AED has partnered with Jonathan Aberman, the founder of Amplifier Ventures, after the two combined for the pilot program, Ballston Innovation Initiative, last year.
According to AED Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships Jennifer Ives, the success of that program led to AED and Amplifier Ventures to apply for the Virginia Federal Action Trust fund (FACT), and they received a $350,000 grant to launch Tandem NSI. Arlington County matched with $175,000 of its own.
The goal of the program, Ives said, is to “more effectively connect and allow fast-growth and established technology companies to push technology into federal agencies. Also, when the agencies declassify technologies, like GPS, there’s a huge commercial market for these things, and they’re always looking for innovative fast-growth companies to help commercialize and push these technologies out into the market.”
Ives said Tandem NSI is “hyper-focused” on companies that are past the startup and accelerator phases that make technology products the government can use. The program is available to businesses all over the country. Ives said it’s the nation’s first program of its kind.
Tandem NSI will try to collect data from companies in its program as early as April or May to try to assess the initiative’s effect. That means evaluating, with each company, if investments or revenues have increased as a result of Tandem NSI. If the program is successful, Ives said it will apply for more grants.
“If a company grows as a direct result of the program, that speaks for itself,” Ives said. “The intent here is to show success, then keep it going.”

Another Milestone for Arlington Home Prices

The average sale price of a home in Arlington topped $600,000 in 2013. That's up nearly 5 percent from 2012.

The total reported volume of residential real estate transactions in Arlington County was more than $1.7 billion for the year.

Read more: Sun Gazette

American Ends Direct Service to 17 Cities from DCA

American Airlines is ending direct service to 17 small and midsized cities from Reagan National Airport.

The move is being made as part of a deal with the Justice Department to win approval for the merger between American and US Airways.

Read more: Washington Post

Arlington Firms Score VC Investments

Washington region companies attracted $1.54 billion in venture capital investment in 2013, the Washington Post reported.

Reported investments in Arlington companies included $995,000 in Terrago Technologies from CNF Investments and Redshift Ventures Management; $100,000 in PerformYard from CIT GAP Funds; and $25,000 in Pinbooster from CIT GAP Funds.

Terrago "develops powerful location intelligence, geospatial collaboration and field data collection solutions." PerformYard "provides enterprise software for employee performance and human resources information." Pinbooster is an "influencer advertising platform for Pinterest."
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