For businesses, the future is now

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After more than a year of public discussions and work by the mayors Economic Sustainability Work Group, that bodys recommendations have been adopted. City Council voted unanimously on Saturday to adopt all of the recommendations and to move forward with implementation.

There was no staff presentation because everyone was familiar with the recommendations contained in the Work Groups final report. The speakers, too, mostly representing the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, came to support the recommendations.

It is important that we move forward and implement these recommendations as soon as possible, said Jack Sullivan, a longtime citizen activist. Im not sure that we need to do much to tweak the Special Use Permit process because we looked into that some years ago and really didnt make recommendations for many changes. The change that we did recommend was not made by Council, and I think that was wise. Nonetheless, there are some important recommendations here and we need to move forward with them.

Private partners
The recommendations are designed to move Alexandria from reliance on revenue from residential real estate taxes to a more diverse economy. One of the recommendations is to formalize the Citys relationship with its private economic development partners: the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association and the Small Business Development Center.

We have relationships with those groups now but we will formalize them under these recommendations, said Assistant City Manager Mark Jinks.

Councilman Rob Krupicka asked about the make-up of AEDPs Board. I have always felt that there should be no elected officials on that Board in spite of the fact that I am certain that my colleagues are doing a good job, he said. Having a member of Council on the Board simply ties their hands and does not permit them to provide forthright assessments of various situations to us. I hope we are going to move forward with reconstituting that Board.

Jinks said that, while members are being added to AEDPs Board, there has been no discussion of removing the two members of Council who serve on it. We can certainly discuss it, he said.

Councilman Justin Wilson asked about measuring the success of implementing the Work Groups recommendations. We need to establish criteria for evaluating our success in implementing all of these recommendations and I hope that those matrices are going to be some of the first things we see, he said.

Euille will appoint a committee to oversee implementation. They will report back to us on a regular basis to make certain that things re going along smoothly, Euille said. This is a very important document and implementing these recommendations will move us in the right economic direction. This is the legacy that we can leave for Alexandria into the future.

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