Today Loudoun County, Virginia gained national attention from a hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee. Members of Congress heard testimony provided by expert witness Vanessa Wagner, who leads Loudoun Economic Development’s award-winning Small Business and Entrepreneurship Program. The “Communities That Think Small Win Big” event was broadcast live from SmallBusiness.House.gov and can be watched below.
Wagner advised attendees and viewers to use existing assets to grow more robust small business ecosystems. She informed the congressional subcommittee:
“What I learned [through experience in Loudoun] is that our county already had most of the things it needed to build an ecosystem. I learned that my role is not to bring every trend to Loudoun County. To be successful in my role, I must seek to identify our existing resources and put them to work for our entrepreneurs.”
Wagner identified one of those existing resources as tech pioneer AOL, which has since been acquired by Verizon, and has had offices in Loudoun County for almost 20 years.
“Not only did AOL leave a wake of tech talent behind for other employers, but many of their executives became founders, angel and institutional investors for the next generation,” Wagner said.
Wagner and her colleagues at Loudoun Economic Development have been able to leverage local businesses that started small and now have an international impact, like cybersecurity firm Cofense and medical device companies K2M and EPL Archives. Wagner also mentioned support provided to Loudoun small businesses by partner organizations such as the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and the Mason Enterprise Center in Leesburg and urged other communities to leverage these types of existing resources to strengthen and grow small companies across the U.S.
Businesses with 20 employees or fewer who are looking to expand in or relocate to Loudoun should contact Wagner at 1-800-LOUDOUN, or get details at LoudounSmallBiz.org.