Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Modern Loudoun Moms (and Fairfax Moms!)

Modern Loudoun Moms Magazine, initially launched this past Fall, has come out with its second major publication, along with a completely overhauled site. According to this "world's only social media magazine", it's "a mom's guide to an upscale life in Loudoun. It is the answer to every mom in the community who feels disconnected or unware of what is hot and what is new. It is a mom's bestfriend. It provides information, reviews, references, trends and allows women to connect in print, online and once a person."

The Ashburn-based magazine and its Web 2.0-enabled website plan on launching a Fairfax version later this year, with additional resources, social opportunities, featured Moms and local leaders, Spa and Restaurant reviews, and many other elements very targeted at Northern Virginia Moms, including Fairfax County Moms and Loudoun County Moms. Be sure to get your copy at local retailers and small businesses, sign up online, or just visit the website.

(Following is an experiment - auto-transation in Spanish - let us know if you'd like to help translate, or provide unique content in Spanish!)

Loudoun madres Revista Moderna, inicialmente lanzado el pasado otoño, ha salido con su segunda publicación, junto con una revisión completa del sitio. Según este "mundo de los medios de comunicación social sólo revista", es "una madre guía a una vida de lujo en el condado de Loudoun. Es la respuesta a cada mamá en la comunidad que se siente desconectada o unware de lo que está caliente y lo que es nuevo. Se trata de un Las madres que bestfriend. Proporciona información, comentarios, referencias, tendencias y permite a la mujer conectar impresos, en línea y una vez al mes ... en persona. "

El Ashburn basada en la revista Web 2.0 y su sitio web habilitado para poner en marcha un plan en el Condado de Fairfax versión a finales de este año, con recursos adicionales, oportunidades sociales, que figuran madres y líderes locales, Spa y Restaurante comentarios, y muchos otros elementos muy dirigidos a las madres de Virginia del Norte , Incluyendo el Condado de Fairfax madres y madres del Condado de Loudoun. Asegúrese de obtener su copia en locales minoristas y pequeñas empresas, inscribirse en línea, o simplemente visitar el sitio web.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Dulles Rail Eminent Failure - Both Unexpected and Not

The apparent collapse of Federal funding for the Dulles Rail Project is both unexpected and not, in my view.

On the one hand, it's easy to understand the Fed's concerns about the $900 Million funding they're being asked to contribute. Their concern about the lack of MWAA's experience, technical ability, and longer-term financial stability in managing the program is probably accurate, as such a large program is best managed by those with fairly current experience in related and current contexts and very deep pockets - that's not the local or Federal government, in my opinion, but is best found in private industry. Additionally, the $900M contribution estimates are probably segnificantly lacking in factual bases or precedent - the recent $300 million estimate cut to me is a simple evidence of typically unfounded, politically-driven and hyper-optimistic Budgeting processes rampant across the Federal Government. Call a spade a spade - the Federal contribution WILL NOT only be $900M at the end of the day, it WILL be at least double.

On the other hand, this level of discomfort and scrutiny of a "mere" $900M, that (at least to many observers) will significantly improve the lives and economy of one of the most economically-significant areas of the country (including the Federal Government's own power-base) is a bit hard to swallow. Especially given the rampant and uncontrollable spending on the war, given the utter waste already practiced to the tune of Billions (we've all been there, having spent many years helping develop significant IT programs costing Millions, only to have them utterly discarded with tremendous waste of capability, techonology and talent). How is this "drop in the budget bucket" so significantly outweighed by management, risk and process concerns, that the fairly obvious Return on Investment is utterly overlooked? Perhaps the ROI isn't yet sufficiently calculated.

In any case, this shouldn't be dropped, but cooler and smarter heads should be quickly brought to the table.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dulles South Multipurpose's all in a name

This week's Easterner had a South Riding Scoop entry on new community centers, speaking to the new "Arcola Community Center" and the "Riding Center Community Center". speaks to the "Dulles South Multipurpose Center", but a front page poll solicits new names for the "South Riding Community Center" - the leading candidate now being "South Riding Center" (with about 70 votes). The Loudoun County Government site uses the "Dulles Multipurpose Center" as a name, though most documents include the "South".

There's actually two centers here - one run by the Loudoun County Parks and Recreation Department, and one run by the South Riding Proprietary for residents only. They both front Riding Center Drive, about a quarter mile from each other.

The "Dulles South Multipurpose Center" is a community center at 24950 Riding Center Drive in South Riding - Phase I is nearly complete (by June), to offer preschool, senior center and community services activities.

Dulles South Multipurpose Center, South Riding, VA 01/19/2008

The "Riding Center Community Center" is a residents-only South Riding facility and pool on 42420 Unicorn Drive in South Riding, and is complete and ready to open for this Summer.

Riding Center Community Center, South Riding, VA  01/19/2008


Friday, January 11, 2008

Support the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center – it’ll be more important than ever in 2008.

A member of our “Team DSO” this week attended a meeting of the Loudoun County Economic Development Commission’s Marketing & Business Retention Committee. The EDC is a “is a public/private partnership responsible for promoting Loudoun's economic development.” The Marketing & Business Retention Committee advances entrepreneurship and economic diversity, helps brand and market Loudoun’s assets, cultivates competitive industry clusters, and helps develop, expand, protect and promote signature attractions and cultural heritage.

This is a group of “volunteers” representing towns and area businesses, with participation by County leadership from the Department of Economic Development. This particular meeting was focused on discussing and providing input to the County’s “Action Plan for Economic Development”, actions which revolve (within budget constraints) around supporting the strategic initiatives mentioned above.

One of the more interesting discussions revolved around the need for more explicit support, in both communication language and budget, for the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center. The EDC’s strategic initiatives don’t necessarily focus on employer or workplace size, but explicit references to support especially for small businesses would be especially helpful in the coming year.

While attracting larger businesses (with overall greater tax revenues and economic impact, and less county service utilization costs than new residences) is a key mitigation element to this year’s looming budget shortfalls, helping sustain and promote small businesses is likely equally important. This observation is based on the current economic downturn’s effect among the neighborhoods, which we can see first-hand on a daily basis. More and more home-based businesses are sprouting up, with Moms returning to work, families seeking additional income to offset mortgage issues, a proliferation of online businesses made possible with cheap Internet tools, etc. When job loss, cutbacks or other sudden increases in family fiscal liability hit, many people are looking for quick mitigation in jobs with small businesses, as freelancers and affiliates, or with rapidly-created startups.

The SBDC is uniquely positioned as a key resource and lynchpin to the success of this coming wave of small business growth. Find out more, use their services, volunteer support, and write to your local officials about the need to increase County funding and support of this critical resource.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

In dire need of new Dulles South restaurants!

A letter's been circulating in Dulles South lately, imploring those residents interested in better dining options to add their names to a list petitioning Great American Restaurants to place one of their brands in the coming "East Gate Market Place Center" (south side of Rt. 50 at the Loudoun/Fairfax border).

Great American Restaurants owns Sweetwater Tavern, Mike's American Grill, Coastal Flats (just about the best restaurant we've ever been to in this area), and other brands.

This is good precedent, for community activism to arise to the challenge of convincing developers, investors and retailers to provide what's both needed and desired, from the resident's point of view.

To join the fray, and add your voice to the clamor for finer dining in this Loudoun Gateway region, read this note (that will be going to the developer, along with all signatories), and send us an email ( Include your name, home or businesss address and email, and we'll batch 'em and forward on to the originator, Kathy Caputo Worek. Please also forward this message or link to anyone you think might be in support of an "upper-casual" restaurant in our area.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Government 2.0 Pushback in the Loudoun Real Estate Assessment Office

While it is not entirely clear whether the statements or follow up exchange on the issue of whether Loudoun County's 2007 Real Estate Assessments far exceed market value are accurate, there are two interesting points that we hope will become clearer in 2008.

First - Government officials need to better understand the Internet and blogosphere. Whether they're right or not, asking someone to remove a blog entry after it's been linked to and indexed by all the major search engines is entirely fruitless. The cached content of the site not only will remain for a long time as Internet historical evidence, but the continued fallout and commentary among other bloggers and journalists will also guarantee that the posted material persists and gains even more visibility. Better to simply put out better, additional, more constructive information to counter what seems incorrect or misleading. This is a well-known mechanism of "reputation management" on the Internet - once the cat's out of the bag, the best thing to do is overwhelm the forum with better information. The Government official said "I nor any member of my staff will engage you via your blog regarding your perceptions of the operations of local government" - and now look what's happened; they are in fact engaging the owners via the blog, albeit by various proxies, and other blogs as well.

Second - the stance taken by a public official to formally denounce a blog entry as "offensive", "reckless", not to be "condoned", "inappropriate" are all terms of very subjective judgement that are better left to industry professionals or lawyers to materialize. In whose eyes is this material "offensive"? The single "member of the public" who brought the issue up? As in our first point, Government officials could use a bit more awareness training regarding Internet selling tactics - i.e., absolutely everything has some element of personal gain, and the vast majority of posted material on "Web 2.0" style forums (whether blogs, wikis, discussion boards, chatrooms, or social media venues like Myspace) should be understood to not only be inherently biased, but always pushing the envelope of language for headlines and recognition. As owners of an Internet Marketing company, headlines and postings like these stick out very plainly as marketing tactics, and are actually quite common - and simply best absorbed as one of a thousand data points about the issue.

While it's refreshing that the Loudoun County Government is now reading blogs, perhaps it's time to counter with a raft of more accessible, online information to counter this issue. Rather than simply direct inquiring minds to a single website link, why not open a more direct and informative conversation with the online public through an online Government blog or forum? It can be mediated, and with relevant Social Media 2.0 skills, can be a very effective way to engage the public on public property, vs. private.

PS - our assessments in Loudoun have always been unreasonably high, and we've found little recourse in arguing our position, where much more valuable real estate with exactly the same design, within a block of our own, is assessed less. And we've got several long-time real-estate professionals and a real-estate assessor in the family. It's truly a big mystery.