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Looking Good: SFDC's Business Goal

A spring spruce-up for Route 1 entrepreneurs.

Appearance having a lot to do with judgment is the philosophy behind Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation's new "Good Neighbor, Smart Business Appearance" program.

"This program was designed to encourage our businesses along the Route 1 corridor from Fort Belvoir to the Beltway to improve their appearance so that we can retain the increased purchasing power we have acquired in this area," said Roger Reuttersham, SFDC Board member and chair, SFDC Appearance Recommendations Committee.

"It has taken us 10 months to put this program together and the recommendations have been mailed to all businesses along the corridor. It has also received great support from County Supervisors Gerry Hyland and Dana Kauffman as well as the County Chamber of Commerce," he said.

That support from Hyland and Kauffman was spelled out in a letter signed by both and included with the educational packet sent to Richmond Highway entrepreneurs. "As more people migrate to this area, it is even more important that properties fronting on the highway present an attractive appearance ...," Mount Vernon District Supervisor Hyland and Lee District Supervisor Kauffman wrote.

"For residents of the area, it makes for a more aesthetically pleasing experience as they purchase goods and seek services. For businesses, offering a more pleasant physical environment will attract new and bring back repeat customers," they wrote.

THAT WAS BUTTRESSED by Richard F. Neel, Jr., president, SFDC. "New homes, businesses and families translate into new opportunities for your business ... As the appearance of the Highway continues to be enhanced, more and more customers will be attracted to shop and shop more often at our businesses," Neel said in a cover letter to business owners.

"This is an important first step to assist Richmond Highway businesses with helpful information on investing in the appearance of their businesses," he said.

The program is a set of guidelines suggesting how businesses can improve their appearance. "The recommendations also provide useful information on incentive programs by Fairfax County, such as Facade Improvement grants and Tax Abatement, to help businesses in this effort," said Becky Witsman, executive director, SFDC.

Recommendations are divided into four areas:

1. Landscaping, Trash & Parking Areas

2. Building Repair

3. Incentive to better business investment

4. What to do when other properties "don't measure up"

Each of the first two areas contain a check list of what can be done to achieve the ultimate goal of improving the appearance of business along the Highway. The third area tells business owners where they can find additional information on such programs as facade improvement, how to qualify for demolition and redevelopment loans, public funding for landscaping and streetscape items, and the tax abatement initiative.

Under the category of "When other properties don't measure up," regulations and prohibitions are spelled out with contact phone numbers. There is also information to help business owners "repair and/or remove graffiti-marred areas," and report such to the police.

"Enhancing the appearance of the Richmond Highway corridor will ultimately reap economic benefits for business owners and the residents of the community," Hyland and Kauffman wrote. Additional information on the "Good Neighbor, Small Business Appearance Program" is available by contacting SFDC at 703-360-5008.