Grow your Small Business in Northern Virginia

The Northern Virginia (NOVA) area can sometimes be overshadowed by its proximity to Washington, DC, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a great place for business. Interestingly, the tax revenue the state of Virginia collects from the northern part of the state is enough to cover over half the state of Virginia’s yearly budget. The area is no doubt a booming place for businesses to thrive. Every year, many new businesses open their doors in NOVA and hope to take in some of the area’s wealth.  In total, the cities and counties that make up the northern VA area are among the wealthiest in the nation, which provides plenty of opportunities for small businesses owners to take advantage of. Not only are there plenty of wealthy customers in the area, but there’s also numerous successful business owners that you can learn and collaborate with. So now that we covered the basic economics of the area, let’s dive into how to successfully grow your small business in Northern Virginia.

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Starting a small business is not an easy task to do and is the reason over half of all small businesses close within a year of opening. Sure, you’ve done your market research, defined your target customer, and developed a business plan, but how do you think you’ll be able to successfully reach your target audience?  Unless you have successfully opened multiple businesses or have a business partner that has, then you’re basically taking a shot in the dark.  Every decision you make in the early stages of starting your business will ultimately determine the business’ fate and lifespan.

After analyzing hundreds of new businesses, the biggest pitfalls seen from new business owners is that they cut corners on some of the most important aspects of starting a business, while spending tons of money on things that don’t matter.  I can’t even begin to describe the amount of new business owners who throw up a cheap website with no care for how they’re business is perceived online.  On top of having a bad website, they then will have absolutely no budget for any type of marketing.  If you know someone like this, please show them the light!  Neglecting to have a professionally built and optimized website is the first step of the demise of so many small businesses.

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Don’t neglect your small business, start it off the right way by hiring a professional digital marketing agency in Northern Virginia that will make sure your new business is set up for success.  Implementing the right digital marketing strategy for your small business is one of the only ways to forecast your company’s success. Sure, you could try to learn how to effectively do SEO, Social Media Marketing, PPC, Content Marketing, Reputation Management, Mobile Marketing, etc., but the time it would take to learn all those skills individually will most certainly take away time from running your business.  Therefore, successful business owners always hire professional digital marketers to do it the right way first. Your time is your most important asset, and you will be needing every second of it when you start a new business. Many successful new businesses in NOVA all share one thing in common and that is they all hired The W Agency – one of the top digital marketing agencies in Northern Virginia.

The W Agency handles all aspects of digital marketing in a strategic way, and uses proprietary search engine optimization methods that have been proven successful time and time again.  There are many other digital marketing agencies out there that charge exorbitant amounts of money for ineffective methods, so be careful who you decide to work with. Many small businesses I personally know of in the Northern Virginia area, have had great success after letting The W Agency take care of their digital marketing.

There you have it, how to successfully grow your small business in Northern Virginia. Now you know the pitfalls to avoid in starting a new business and how important a digital marketing strategy is for your business’ success.  Start by hiring the best digital marketing agency in Northern Virginia.

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Construction on new Reagan National Airport security area to start this month

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WASHINGTON — Major construction on a large new security area at Reagan National Airport is set to pick up soon, as plans move forward for the new commuter concourse that will replace the dreaded Gate 35X.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has now received official construction proposals for the new security area between the Metro and the existing terminal, and is in negotiations over the contract, according to documents prepared for the authority’s board.

The $163.5 million project, due to be completed by late 2020, is scheduled to start construction work this month.

Construction on the new security area, which will move the checkpoints for terminals B and C, is expected to have significant impacts on drivers dropping off or picking up people at the airport since the work will require lane closures on an already-congested roadway system.

This past weekend, the additional traffic due to the Metro station closure created backups on the George Washington Parkway and U.S. 1, as well as the road inside the airport, even without the lane closures.

Despite limits on the number and types of flights from the airport, the number of people flying in and out of Reagan National is expected to continue to grow, Airports Authority budget projections show.

Through 2022, the authority expects more passengers to continue to use Reagan National each year over Dulles International Airport, even though the growth rate at Dulles is expected to be somewhat higher.

Getting rid of 35X

Separate work has already begun for the new $360 million commuter jet concourse that will provide 14 actual gates for those flights rather than the shuttle buses to stairs on the tarmac that are in place today.

The airport is shifting the plane parking spots to create room for construction. More building demolition is due to be completed by the end of the year.

Final designs for the concourse building are due in November, with construction on the building itself scheduled to move forward in February. The new gates are expected to open in the summer of 2021.

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Alexandria launches campaign to promote Metrorail Blue Line

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The city of Alexandria says things are much better now on Metrorail’s Blue Line.

The city on Tuesday launched what it’s calling a “Back 2 Blue” campaign to encourage residents to give the Blue Line another try.

Commuters became frustrated with changes in recent years that reduced rush-hour service on the line to every 12 minutes.

In May, though, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced it was resuming the previous level of service on the Blue Line, meaning trains are scheduled every eight minutes during rush hour.

The Blue Line is of particular importance to Alexandria — the city’s Braddock Road, King Street and Van Dorn Street stations are all on the Blue Line.

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Middleburg Film Festival returns with ‘Darkest Hour,’ ‘Mudbound,’ ‘Lady Bird’

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WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews the Middleburg Film Fest

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WASHINGTON — Last year’s slate of 26 films went on to garner 44 Oscar nominations with the D.C. area’s first chance to see “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Jackie” and “Loving.”

Now, the fifth annual Middleburg Film Festival returns Oct. 19-22 in Middleburg, Virginia.

“We have always had strong faith in what we could do from the very beginning,” founder Sheila Johnson said. “We knew if we could get through years one and two, we were going to make it. … Every year we get better and better movies. … Year five is the smoothest.”

Even so, they’re surprised at the level of success in such a short time, including celebrity guests such as Emma Stone, Damien Chazelle, Meg Ryan, Lee Daniels and Bruce Dern.

“We’ve had some really significant people,” executive director Susan Koch said. “We’re really thrilled by the response we’ve had, not only from the community but from the film world at large. It’s just really exciting be in year five and feel like we’ve made tremendous inroads.”

This year kicks off with “Darkest Hour,” directed by Joe Wright (“Atonement”) and starring Gary Oldman as Winston ChurchilI. “Bloodline” star Ben Mendehlson, who plays King George VI, will be in attendance alongside screenwriter Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”).

“Churchill has just been appointed prime minister,” Koch said. “France has already fallen, a lot of Europe is falling and Churchill is faced with a decision about what to do. Most of parliament is telling him that he should negotiate with Hitler, and it’s really an incredible, riveting drama about his courageous decision to stand up and not negotiate with evil. … Oldman [without] a doubt will get a nomination and I think he very likely could win. … Better than [‘Lincoln’].”

Friday’s night’s highlight is “Hostiles,” a western starring Christian Bale as a cavalry captain ordered to accompany his former enemy, a Cheyenne war chief, back to his homeland. Director Scott Cooper (“Black Mass,” “Crazy Heart”) will be in attendance at the festival.

“It is a brilliantly done movie,” Johnson said. “It’s really about how the U.S. is taking away the land rights of the American Indian. There’s this war going on between the Indians and the cavalry. … I fought for this one. I really wanted this at the festival and they finally said OK.”

Saturday’s centerpiece is Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” starring Saoirse Ronan in a coming-of-age story about a young girl growing up in late ’90s Sacramento. Gerwig will be on hand.

“She directed and wrote it,” Koch said. “It is just an absolutely delightful [movie]. Just so funny, but also a very poignant coming-of-age and mother-daughter story.”

You can also check out “I, Tonya,” starring Margot Robbie as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding during the infamous hit job on Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

“You may think you know the story, but you’re gonna love it,” Koch said.

You can also check out Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” about two men returning home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle against prejudice.

“It’s very exciting for Dee Rees following up on ‘Pariah,’” Koch said. “We are presenting her with our Visionary Award. Director Lee Daniels of ‘The Butler’ and ‘Empire’ will be presenting it and he’s also going to be doing a conversation with her [on] Saturday at 11 a.m.”

The festival is also honoring James Ivory, famed filmmaker of Merchant Ivory costume dramas, from “Howard’s End” to “A Room with a View” to “Remains of the Day.”

“He is 89 and still going strong,” Koch said. “He wrote the screenplay for ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ which we are screening. It’s just a terrific film. A beautiful film.”

Another annual highlight is the salute to an acclaimed film composer. This year, it’s Oscar nominee Nicholas Britell, who will play the piano alongside violinist Tim Fain (“Black Swan”) and the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. The orchestrations with accompany film clips from “Battle of the Sexes,” “The Big Short,” “Moonlight” and “12 Years a Slave.”

“One of the things that I love about our film festival that really separates us from all the other film festivals is to talk about the unsung hero: the composer,” Johnson said. “People so often will watch movies and I’ll come out and go, ‘Wasn’t that score incredible?’ And they’ll go, ‘What score?’ They take it for granted and do not understand how subliminally that makes a movie.”

With so many awesome screenings and events, you might want to download the new app to help you navigate the schedule and locations. But don’t worry, it’s all centrally located in quiet Middleburg, an idyllic autumn setting nestled in gorgeous Virginia horse and wine country.

“We’ve brought everything into the town of Middleburg, so it’s walkable,” Johnson said. “They can go to the films, they can stop and get a bite to eat, they can do a little bit of tasting at the distillery, [visit] the cute little shops, wine tastings, conversations at the winery. It is just absolutely beautiful and we’ve got exceptional weather. It’s just going to be perfect this year.”

Click here for more details. Listen to our full chat with Sheila Johnson and Susan Koch below:

WTOP’s Jason Fraley chats with Sheila Johnson & Susan Koch

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Autumn fun: Here are 16 places to find it around DC

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WASHINGTON — It’s not all about chunky knits and crunchy leaves: October is the prime time for pumpkins.

And in the D.C. area, there’s no shortage of farms and orchards with pick-your-own patches and harvest festivals to usher in the season. Here are a few to visit this fall.

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Confederate monuments vandalized in 2 Virginia cities

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Two Confederate monuments in two Virginia cities have been vandalized this week.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the word “racist” was found painted in red on the Jefferson Davis statue in Richmond on Tuesday. The Virginian-Pilot reports Norfolk police spokesman Daniel Hudson says a memorial to the Confederate dead was spray-painted with “#2 BETTER LUCK NEVER” early Monday morning.

Richmond’s Davis statue is on Monument Avenue, which also features four other Confederate statues. The nearby J.E.B. Stuart statue was splattered with pine tar in August, and three statues were tagged with spray paint after President Donald Trump’s election victory last year.

The Norfolk statue was previously spray-painted with the word “SHAME” in May.

Both Richmond and Norfolk are considering whether to move or contextualize the monuments following August’s violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

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This story has been corrected to show that there are a total of five Confederate statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, not four.

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3 plead guilty to roles in MS-13 revenge killing

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MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — Three associates of the MS-13 street gang have pleaded guilty to their roles in the revenge killing of a 15-year-old girl.

The pleas Tuesday are the first convictions in the related killings of Damaris Reyes Rivas, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and 21-year-old Christian Sosa Rivas of Fairfax City.

The Washington Post reports that each of the three pleaded guilty to charges that included abduction as part of deals with prosecutors in the girl’s death.

Court records indicate that all three are expected to be witnesses in the upcoming trials of three other people charged directly with her killing.

An FBI agent testified during a preliminary hearing this summer that she was killed because gang members believed she had lured Sosa Rivas to his death weeks earlier.

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Judge: sheriff can fire deputy who supported opponent

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a northern Virginia sheriff was within his rights to fire a high-ranking deputy who supported an opposing candidate.

Deputy Mark McCaffrey sued Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman after he opted not to reappoint McCaffrey when Chapman won re-election in 2015.

McCaffrey was fired after supporting Chapman’s opponent in the GOP primary, Eric Noble.

In his Oct. 12 opinion, Judge Anthony Trenga said precedent in the Fourth Circuit makes clear that sheriffs can fire deputies who choose to support other candidates when the deputy holds a senior “policymaking” position. Trenga said McCaffrey, who served as lead detective on major cases including murders, qualifies as a senior policy maker.

McCaffrey has appealed the judge’s ruling to the federal appeals court in Richmond.

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The story has been updated to correct the sheriff’s last name from Simpson to Chapman.

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Fall foliage: Why are the vibrant colors missing this year?

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WASHINGTON — You might have noticed that this year’s fall foliage season seems to be missing something: The normal brilliant color show just isn’t there this year.

It seems Mother Nature has sabotaged the fall color show this season in Virginia and the problem stretches up to New York state.

”A lot of trees are changing very quickly and turning brown very quickly and falling off,” said John Seiler, professor of tree biology at Virginia Tech.

One reason for the lackluster fall foliage season in Virginia was the unusually dry weather in August and September, Seiler said.

This could be one of the least colorful seasons we’ve seen in years, he said.

Overall, changing leaf colors are more muted and the leaves are coming off early, Seiler said. And that means you won’t be seeing those beautiful tree lines with the brilliant reds and pretty yellows this year.

Instead of the leaves changing to beautiful brilliant colors and staying that way for about a week, “They’re looking as though they’re just turning a yellow-brown color,” he said. “There’s not a lot of good reds coming out.”

The recent rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Nate might have helped some, but he said it’s too late for certain types of trees and leaves. “Lack of rain speeds up the process of trees dropping their leaves, as they quickly change from green to yellow to brown,” he said. “It is especially true for some species such as hickories, maples and poplars.”

Seiler says there is still a little bit of a color show out there. But this year you’re going to have to hunt for them.

“You’ll still find individual trees that are really pretty,” he said.

So when is peak viewing for the leaves? This year that’s a tough question. But Seiler said for the Blacksburg area where Virginia Tech is located, it’ll be the weekend of Oct. 28 and for D.C. it will be a little later than that.

Colleagues in New York and other states are posting photos on social media and are complaining about the same problems with this year’s fall foliage, he said.

Meanwhile in Maryland, Gregg Bortz with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said this year’s fall foliage in the state is not as great as previous years because of the dry conditions, followed by rain and high winds which have impacted the vibrancy of the color of the leaves and peak.

He said there are patches of brilliant color in Western and Central Maryland.

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Silver Line update: Work underway to install rails, erect pedestrian bridges

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WASHINGTON — Construction of the second phase of the Silver Line is now two-thirds done, with more than half of the budget spent.

The six new stations between Reston Town Center and Ashburn are expected to open in 2020.

Workers have spent more than 5 million hours on the $2.78 billion project so far, according to updates expected to be presented Wednesday to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board.

An airports authority contractor is building the extension, which will be turned over to Metro once completed.

A separate airports authority budget preview also scheduled to be presented Wednesday states that Dulles Toll Road rates are expected to remain flat as promised in 2018, at $3.50 for a full trip. The rate is expected to go up to about $4.75 in 2019, in what would be the first increase since 2014.

Construction work update

Station roofs, escalators and pedestrian bridges are being installed now, and electricians are connecting power cables in other areas. Rails are being installed along much of the corridor and in the new rail yard, and the last large storm drains are scheduled to go in along nearby roads over the next few months.

At the Dulles Airport Station, moving walkways are being installed in a pedestrian tunnel that will take travelers below a parking lot to reach the airport terminal.

Capital Rail Constructors, the contractor responsible for most of the project, said their total work — design and construction — is 67 percent complete. Construction alone is 61 percent complete.

The first phase of the Silver Line opened in July 2014.

The $1.4 billion spent on the second phase, through the end of August, includes $186 million in contingency funds. Another $364 million in contingency funds remain for changes or unexpected costs. Right now, 107 identified changes are being negotiated and reviewed.

Most of the workers on the project live in Virginia (58 percent of time worked), while about a quarter live in Maryland and a small fraction live in the District (3 percent). Thirteen percent of the labor has been done by people who live elsewhere.

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Va. man arrested for having $73k in untaxed cigarettes

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GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — Police have arrested a Virginia man after they allegedly found more than $73,000 in untaxed cigarettes in his vehicle during a traffic stop in Delaware.

Georgetown police said they pulled over 44-year-old Tanvir Raffi of Yorktown, Virginia, after he committed a traffic violation Saturday. They said they found several bags filled with cartons of cigarettes during a consensual search of his Ford Explorer. A total of 5,060 packs of cigarettes were found.

Raffi was arrested on four counts of possession of untaxed tobacco products and one count of attempting to evade or defeat tax. He was arraigned and released on $6,400 unsecured bond.

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