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Chamber Names Business Leader of the Year

More than 300 business and community leaders gathered Friday night to honor Roger Machanic as the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce 2002 Business Leader of the Year, and Forum One Communications as its choice for Small Business of the Year.

As a former Chamber president, Machanic was selected for the Chamber's top business award due to his leadership and commitment to the Alexandria business community throughout the years. The honor was presented during the organization's annual Business Awards Dinner at the Alexandria Holiday Inn and Suites.

During his tenure as president, the Chamber got many programs under way that stimulated growth throughout the area and help the organization grow. Two of those were the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership Inc. and its Who's Who Membership Directory.

"I was extremely surprised," he admitted about receiving the award. "The evening was fascinating with all the others recognized for their contributions. It was an outstanding event."

Machanic is the founder and former owner of Development Resources Inc. (DRI), a company responsible for commercial and residential real-estate development, management and investment throughout Northern Virginia. Machanic currently is secretary-treasurer of MRE Properties Inc. and a member of the Alexandria Industrial Development Authority.

In addition to his roles with the business community, Machanic is trustee emeritus and former treasurer of the George Mason University Foundation, a past president of the Alexandria Building Industry Association, a member of the Harvard Club of Washington, D.C., and a former vice president of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

Locally, he is a former director of both the Alexandria Seaport Foundation and Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, a past chairman of the Alexandria United Way, a member of Belle Haven Country Club, and Rotary Club of Alexandria. A native of Burlington, Vt., he received his degree in economics from Harvard College in 1955.

Machanic and his wife, Grace, reside in Alexandria. She has taught ballet in Alexandria for the past 35 years. They have two grown children. His daughter, Laura, is president and CEO of New Target, an Alexandria Internet design firm. She served as chair of the Chamber committee planning the event.

FORUM ONE COMMUNICATIONS, a growing consulting business founded in 1997, uses innovative Internet strategies and technology to foster progress on important issues, such as international economic development, globalization, terrorism and HIV/AIDS. Their clients include the World Bank, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Save the Children.

Located on Mount Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray section of the city, the company is a strong supporter of Art on the Avenue with its "Kids Online Art Gallery." Forum One, with CEO Chris Walz, is an active participant in the Potomac West Business Association.

Others recognized at the event were the following:

* Retail Business of the Year: St. Elmo's Coffee Pub, owners Nora Partlo and Scott Mitchell. Located in the heart of Del Ray, the owners view their mission as "to provide the best quality coffee and food products available" in "an interesting, friendly, clean and welcoming community gathering place." At a recent focus group dealing with the revitalization of the Del Ray area, a customer commented, "St. Elmo's has done more for property values, both residential and commercial, than anything thing else in the past 10 years";

* New Business of the Year: Queen Street Clinic, owner Anne Boston-Parish. The clinic was established in August 2001, to provide primary care medicine for the more than 24,000 Alexandria residents who are uninsured and/or underinsured. As a family nurse practitioner, saw the need for affordable medical services and single-handedly established the clinic. Since its inception, the clinic has performed more than 3,700 patient visits. One of those patients stated, "I might not be alive today were it not for the accessibility of the Queen Street Clinic";

* Professional Service of the Year: Brecher Design Group Inc., owner Barbara Brecher. Over the past 16 years, Brecher Design Group, located on North Henry Street, has provided professional graphic and marketing services to the local area. Their work can be seen from DASH About buses to brochures for the Morrison House. They also regularly do pro bono work, including all design work for First Night Alexandria and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria;

* Hospitality Business of the Year: The Majestic Cafe, chef/manager Susan McCreight-Lindeborn. After more than 20 years as a closed building, a small group of entrepreneurs became convinced the Majestic, 911 King St., could be revitalized as an Old Town restaurant. Their tenacity paid off in May 2001. The building has a new look but retains the art deco facade of the old Majestic. The cafe's management serves the Alexandria community through their participation in the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association, monthly King Street Art Nights and a variety of charity events.

IN ADDITION TO the winners, others nominated were Authentically Amish, Belmont Design Inc., Bergeron's Flowers and Events, Buchanan and Edwards Inc., Dougherty and Associates Inc., Executive Kneads, The Flower Market, King Street Blues, Matrix Group International Inc., Michael Garcia Insurance Agency Inc., NetLink Resource Group and Potomac Event Productions.