Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: F.C. Small Businesses Are Integral to Our Community

By Lisa D’Ambrosio-Irons

What is so hot it’s cool? Falls Church of course…and the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce’s Fire & Ice Awards Gala is the hottest ticket in town!

When people think of Falls Church, three things typically come to mind: the impressive award winning school system; the responsive, approachable government; and the small, independently owned and operated businesses. As chair of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, my area of expertise is local business, and I would like to remind you that our amazing small businesses contribute thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars each year supporting our schools and local nonprofits. The Falls Church business community contributes directly to these local priorities while also supporting them through their property, business license, and other taxes.

On Saturday, March 10, business leaders, elected officials, local decision makers, and members of the Falls Church community will gather at the Fairview Park Marriott for the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce’s Fire & Ice Awards Gala. The Gala is an annual event dedicated to honoring area businesses and the people who go above and beyond to help make Falls Church the special place that so many of us know and love. This is our opportunity to thank them for their efforts to support our community, and I encourage everyone who supports business in Falls Church to join us in doing so.

This year’s award recipients are integral members of our community. They are activists and leaders who strive to make life in Falls Church and our region a better place to live, work, play, create, learn, and do business. The Chamber’s Awards and this year’s recipients are as follows:

The Hap Day Chamber Appreciation Award is provided to a member of the business community who has helped support and build the Chamber and the local business community. This year’s honor will go to Julie Kelly and the team at the Hilton Garden Inn for their efforts to encourage tourism, promote local businesses, support the schools, and work with World War II Honor Flights, as well as their ongoing support of the Chamber and its events.

The James S. Elkin Award for Humanitarianism is granted to honor outstanding humanitarian efforts. This year’s award will go to The Falls Church Episcopal Church for their work supporting refugees, addressing racial disparities, and trying to make restitution for the enslaved people who built their church.

The Carroll V. Shreve Award is presented for meritorious community service. This year the award will be presented to former Chamber chair Joe Wetzel of The Young Group in recognition of his work with Falls Church Arts, the McLean Project for the Arts, and helping small independent businesses find a home in Falls Church.

And finally, the Chamber’s most coveted recognition, the Pillar of the Community Award, recognized Chamber members dedicated to family, community, business or profession who have made distinctive contributions to the enrichment of life in Falls Church. This year’s high honor goes to another former Chamber chair, Gary LaPorta. LaPorta, who owned and operated Miniatures from the Attic and who now works in the Falls Church Commissioner of the Revenue’s office, will be honored for his work supporting not only the Chamber and local businesses, but also Falls Church City’s Public Schools, Creative Cauldron, Citizens for a Better City, to name a few.

In addition to recognizing honorees, the Chamber Gala is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to socialize with the 200 business leaders, elected officials, and local decision makers while also enjoying a reception and silent auction, dinner, a live auction thanks to Quinn’s Auction Galleries’ David Quinn, and, courtesy of ROCK STAR Realtor Tori McKinney’s Entertainment Sponsorship, dancing the night away to the ever popular Sudden M Pac.

The mission of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce is to promote local business interests in order to foster economic prosperity and civic well-being in the greater Falls Church area. The Chamber’s award winners, both past and present, are the driving force behind this mission and the Chamber’s efforts to support better business for a better Falls Church.

We invite everyone who has benefitted from the good works of this year’s award winners to join us as we thank them for their efforts and recognize them for their part in making Falls Church a hot place to do business and a really cool place to live, work, play, create, learn, and do business. For more information about the Chamber or to register to attend the Gala, visit www.FallsChurchChamber.org.


Lisa D’Ambrosio-Irons is chair of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president/business development manager at John Marshall Bank.