The Business Plan with Bill Reagan: Rich in history, yet poised for reimagining

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Bill Reagan (Alexandria Small Business Development Center)
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The magic of Alexandria is that we’re the home of George Washington, Civil War and Civil Rights history, while we’re also the home of the Patent & Trademark Office and the National Science Foundation. We treasure our heritage and work diligently to preserve and protect our historic icons and distinctive character, but Alexandria also seeks ways to be on the cutting edge and welcome innovation.

The fact that we carefully preserve our momentous past yet also have residents – and a workforce – constantly pushing to expand our imagination and horizons is precisely why Virginia Tech selected Alexandria for its world-class Innovation Campus, and Amazon selected Arlington’s and Alexandria’s Potomac Landing over all the other leading communities throughout the United States.

This has been a particularly dynamic year for Alexandria’s blend of history and reimagination. The city has begun to focus on its historic waterfront rather than having it to our backs and out of sight. We also have the youngest and most diverse city council in our history.

It’s now the time of year when we wrap up summer vacations and, with re-charged batteries, re-engage in our work and civic involvement. It’s a time when we draw on our imagination and experience to bring new ideas and energy to our community.

A distinctive upcoming event looks to offer an ideal setting for participants to continue their learning and growing, and to continue to envision what can make Alexandria even more special. This program is called TEDx OronocoBayPark, and its theme is (re)IMAGINE.

You’ve likely heard of TED Talks and seen clips of some fascinating short presentations on a wide array of attention-catching topics. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and was begun in 1984 with a global platform to hold two annual conferences. The purpose was to make ideas accessible, spark conversation and enhance connection and community.

TEDx is the community version of TED. Where TED is global, TEDx is local, but with the same mission of “ideas worth spreading,” and still held to TED’s rigorous quality standards. 

The TEDx to be held in Alexandria on Oct. 5 provides the opportunity for locals to explore ideas, challenge convention and keep re-imagining and energizing Alexandria. The intent is to inspire our community’s best and brightest and further our stature as a dynamic community where people can live, work and grow.

The half-day event will include 10 thought leaders on a variety of topics that include “The Power of Non-verbal Communication,” “We Need Heroes Again,” “Contemporary Masculinity: An Imaginary Crisis and a Failure of Imagination” and “Redefining the Concept of Intelligence.” Alexandria City Councilor John Chapman will be speaking on #BlackHistoryMatters.

Details of the event are at tedxoronocobaypark.com. Like all TED programs, it’s certain to sell out.

This event is another example of our city that’s so rich in history – yet the setting for dynamic reimagination.

The writer is executive director of Alexandria’s Small Business Development Center. The SBDC can be reached at www.alexandriasbdc.org.

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