The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce has big plans for 2021.
As offices shuttered and pivoted to remote work when COVID-19 hit Fairfax County last spring, the chamber became a vital source of information and resources for local businesses scrambling to stay afloat and adjust to a new reality.
Now, with vaccines suggesting a potential end to the pandemic, the chamber faces the task of helping members recover from a year of economic upheaval, while recognizing that some of the changes to the workforce and business landscape introduced by the novel coronavirus may be here to stay.
“This is going to be a big year in transition,” Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman Andrew Clark said in an interview on Jan. 4.
Like many of the businesses it represents, the chamber shifted its focus online last year in lieu of holding in-person meetings and events, but that did not make its schedule less busy.
Clark says the chamber organized more than 40 webinars last year on subjects ranging from brand management and networking to health protocols for businesses looking to reopen and ways that nonprofits could compensate for declines in charitable giving.
The organization hosted its signature Tysons 2050 event for the fourth year in a row, and it held the first-ever Tysons Restaurant Week in October. The initiative proved so successful that organizers are planning to revive it this spring.
Clark says the Tysons chamber will bring that same spirit of creativity and collaboration to the new year with initiatives like a Chocolate Safari that Visit Fairfax is currently promoting and a car show that is being organized with Tysons Corner Center.
A spokesperson for the mall confirmed that a car show is in the works, but the event is still in the preliminary planning stages. Clark says the chamber is tentatively aiming for a date around the end of February or early March.
“It’s a communal effect,” Clark said. “…The restaurants are supporting the buildings, the buildings are supporting the restaurants, and now that we have a sense of the community that’s coming to Tysons, it’s fun to be a part, as the chamber, of being a conduit for that.”
With a new board of directors set to be inducted on Thursday (Jan. 14), the chamber’s priorities for 2021 will include intensifying its focus on technology companies and government contractors, two industries that have a strong presence in Tysons, current board member Vicki Warker says.
The chamber will also continue working with companies that manage or provide services to commercial real estate as they prepare for a potential return of office workers while maintaining cleaning protocols and other health measures necessitated by COVID-19.
Clark says safety will be “paramount” to ensuring a successful transition to a new normal for Tysons. The chamber strives to keep members informed on everything from how to obtain personal protective equipment to the legal issues to consider when reopening a business.
“What’s relevant today? We try to position ourselves to get that information as quickly as we can to our constituents,” Clark said.
Photo by Michelle Goldchain