From the Director: Our Shifting Workplace and Post-Pandemic Recovery

November 3, 2022 | By Shannon Flanagan-Watson

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Part Three: Rebounding Industries and an Optimistic Future 

Over the last few months, we have been taking a deeper dive into the changing office marketplace and Arlington’s role in responding to the changing post-pandemic economic landscape. We are working directly with our companies to provide as much support as possible during this time, and we are helping to cultivate our tech talent. We are also bringing forth new and creative possibilities for filling vacant office space throughout the County. These efforts represent a part of our multi-faceted recovery strategy, and we are beginning to see positive gains at the local level. 

Empowering Small Businesses 

We are increasing our efforts to help Arlington’s small business community, much of which is recovering after more than two years of a challenging business climate. Arlington’s BizLaunch team and its ReLaunch program have shown remarkable success, helping more than 150 businesses to date with new e-commerce and marketing initiatives. In acknowledgment of this great work, the ReLaunch program was recently honored with a Gold Award for Resiliency at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) annual conference. We are proud of the success of this program and its impact, and even prouder of the resilient small business owners who persevered during the most challenging of times. 

We are also seeing renewed interest in small business networking events, including October’s successful Brunch and Business event that celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and Arlington’s Latino-owned businesses, as well as an increase in one-on-one consultations with those looking to start a small business. New small businesses are opening their doors regularly in Arlington, and those businesses can now take advantage of free access to a variety of different market research tools provided by BizLaunch. These are positive signs that the market is beginning to improve locally. 

Rebounding Tourism and Arts Industries 

And while not yet at pre-pandemic levels, Arlington Convention & Visitors Service (ACVS) and Arlington Cultural Affairs-Arlington Arts are experiencing a strong return to activity in their respective industries. ACVS is using much-needed ARPA funding to launch aggressive marketing strategies and promotional efforts to encourage both leisure travelers and convention groups to return to Arlington.  

Similarly, Arlington Arts enjoyed a welcome return to in-person programming this summer and fall with exciting concerts, festivals, and interactive arts activities at Lubber Run Amphitheater, the Arlington Art Truck, Columbia Pike Blues Festival and the Rosslyn Jazz Fest with record-breaking audiences. 

Our Future is Bright 

While we face many challenges in the changing marketplace, we are laser focused on our economic recovery through the development and implementation of a multi-pronged strategy as noted above. It will require all of us working together in collaboration with our best thinking and being agile in our approaches. If we have learned anything from the last couple of years, we are a strong and resilient community. I am confident Arlington is well-positioned to foster and grow a healthy economy in the coming years.

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