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Local Businesses Win ABBIES

Arlington businesses receive accolades for strong service and community involvement.

Arlington residents are loyal to their local businesses, and many of those businesses return the favor with outstanding community support. In order to recognize excellence in business and community service, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce holds the annual ABBIES. The 11th Annual ABBIES were held at the Sheraton National on May 16, and those businesses that were recognized had high standards to meet.

Four businesses in particular stood out. Pacers, a sporting goods store located in Clarendon, received the 2006 Retail Small Business of the Year Award. Body Dynamic, which provides physical rehabilitation and wellness services, was recognized as the 2006 Service Small Business of the Year. Content that Counts, a Web site maintenance service provided by Arlene Weinstock, was named the 2006 Home-Based Business of the Year. The 2006 Nonprofit Business of the Year Award went to Doorways for Women and Families, which provides housing, counseling and skills training to women and families who are struggling.

"WE'VE BEEN very proud to be a member [of the Chamber]," said Linda Dunphy, executive director of Doorways, as she accepted the award. "When I first took this job as executive director about three years ago, I saw the ABBIE Award being announced in the newsletter and I thought, well that's something to strive for."

Businesses must meet strict criteria to be considered for an ABBIE. Each candidate must be viable and well thought of by his or her clients or customers, and be a leader in the industry in Arlington or have a unique approach to its delivery. Furthermore, each business must contribute to the Arlington community either corporately or through its employees.

The Arlington Economic Development Commission recognized several other businesses as well. Virginia Commerce Bank was presented with an ABBIE for its sustained growth and community involvement, particularly with Virginia Hospital Center and the Arlington Free Clinic. CEO Peter Converse described VCB as the largest bank headquartered in Northern Virginia. "We're really proud of that growth but we haven't forgotten our roots."

The Shooshan development firm was recognized, and Chairman John Shooshan spoke fondly of the firm's strong ties to the county. "We really love the relationship we have with Arlington County," he said. "We've never won an award like this — I don't think we intended to — but we're very flattered."

ADVANCED Systems Development received an ABBIE for 25 years of providing information technology support to the federal government and private businesses. Capitol Travel Medicine, which provides international travelers with immunizations, is the only such clinic in the Washington-Metro area. Founder Susan Wallace was pleased to accept the award. "I live in Arlington and I love it here," she said.

In a rare instance of the Chamber recognizing an individual, Pam Gottfried received an ABBIE for her work at Dominion Power. She dealt with both government and community relations, and has served on the Northern Virginia Economic Development Committee and the Northern Virginia Literacy Council. She described Dominion as "A lot of people working hard to keep your lights on 99.98 percent of the time," which got a big laugh from the crowd.

Arlington County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman made the closing remarks, and spoke of the advantages of having businesses that participate in their communities. He said that the bottom line isn't the only measure of success, and that a successful business is one that is "actively engaged and involved in its community." He went on, "Fortunately for us, a lot of our businesses also see it that way." Clearly that is true of the business recognized this year, and the community is better off for it.