A lot has been written, said, screamed and whispered about our local economy and how to fix it. Smart, well-intentioned, dedicated people disagree adamantly when discussing how best to bolster The Little City’s finances. Most seem to agree that Falls Church needs more commercial tax revenue but that is where the agreement seems to end. Do we build more residential to increase the customer base for our existing businesses? Do we build more commercial to attract new businesses? Do we develop more mixed use properties to try to balance the two?
Developers have again turned their eyes toward Falls Church with the intent of building new residential and commercial properties. Do we trust them to know what they are doing and let them build what they want or do we question their decisions and make demands knowing that what decision makers want may not in fact be the most practical and could cause developers to again shy away from investing in Falls Church? These are important questions our City Council, Boards and Commissions and staff are struggling to answer. Unfortunately, because decision makers care so deeply about these questions and because there is no objective way to answer them, the decision making process has been fraught with arguments.
But there are things the City can do now, to help increase commercial revenue. Recently the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce submitted recommendations to the City Council regarding ways in which it could better retain its current businesses and attract new businesses to the City. The recommendations, developed by a Task Force lead by local realtor Treena Rinaldi, included developing better signage options for businesses and making parking options more visible. The Chamber’s recommendations were embraced by City Hall and an update will be provided Friday morning at the City Council’s Economic Development Committee meeting.
There are also things that residents can do in the short term that will also have a more immediate impact on the local economy. Spend your money in your community. Doing so will increase non-residential tax income and support the local business community. And, ultimately it could help keep property taxes at a minimum, increase discretionary spending by local businesses, and help attract new businesses. Successful businesses want to be located near other successful businesses.
There are things that residents can do in the short term that will also have a more immediate impact on the local economy.
Falls Church is fortunate to be home to a number of small, independently owned businesses along with quite a few well respected corporations, chains and franchises – these businesses provide needed and/or wanted goods and services while also providing employment opportunities. Additionally, many of these businesses provide support to our local schools and the many charitable organizations that are housed in and around Falls Church.
Want to support local businesses but not sure how to find the products and services you are looking for? The Falls Church Chamber of Commerce can help.
1) Visit www.fallschurchchamber.org for information about local businesses. The site includes a listing of businesses in alpha order or by industry. It also includes information such as special offers, promotions and events hosted by local businesses. Still not sure who to call? Contact the Chamber office at 703-532-1050 or [email protected] and we will help you connect with the business or businesses best suited to your needs.
2) Sign up to receive the Chamber’s email announcements, “News from the Chamber”. You will receive announcements about discount offers, events and updates on new businesses, relocations, etc. These announcements are free to anyone interested but only members of the Chamber are promoted.
3) Attend Falls Church Chamber events. The Chamber hosts two events every month and several special events throughout the year. Chamber events are open to the public and we encourage everyone interested in the local business community to attend and get to know our business leaders. The Chamber’s monthly Networking Mixers would be a great place to start. Hosted by a different member business each month, the events are free and they provide an exceptional opportunity to get to know more about the host business and the other business leaders attending the event.
Whether you live in the City of Falls Church or in the greater Falls Church area, now is not the time to sit back and see what the government can do to ease your tax burden and bring new development to the area. You have the power to increase local revenue simply by spending your money in your community rather than elsewhere. You do not need to spend more money, you just need to spend it close to home, where it will benefit your community. And, what better way to encourage new business to move into Falls Church then by showing our support of existing businesses.
Falls Church is a wonderful community. Our disagreements stem from the fact that smart, well-intentioned, dedicated people disagree. It happens. Do we want to be known as a community that disagrees or one that supports its own? We can all help Falls Church become more business friendly by simply putting our money where our mouths are…right here in Falls Church.
Sally Cole is the Executive Director of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce.