2010 Inter-City Visit & Leadership Conference

With Congressman Brad Miller and Raleigh Chamber of Commerce chair Sepi Asefnia.

Last week, I traveled to Fairfax County, Virginia and Washington, D.C. with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Inter-City Task Force. As many of you know, I grew up in the DC area, which made the trip especially exciting for me! This annual trip brings together business and community leaders from Raleigh to travel to other cities to learn about their successes and challenges. As a business woman and City Councilor I find it helpful to dialogue with stakeholders from other cities about how to develop a strong quality of life through economic and public investment. We often face similar circumstances and it is helpful to learn how others are navigating the growing process.

We focused on several challenges that growing cities face: public safety, education, transit, housing, and smart development. The Fairfax/DC area has done a tremendous job of equipping itself with community services and programs that make it a great place to live. It has developed into a metropolitan area rich with commerce, trade, and technology, which has, in turn, led to great schools and dynamic diverse communities. I believe that it is important for community leaders in both business and public service to always strive to improve the quality of life in the area which they live and work. This trip was an excellent opportunity for all of us to gain ideas and insight on how we can make public and private progress in Raleigh.

Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the trip for me was being able to take part in the forum “Task Force’s Task: Conquering Congestion.” I was privileged to serve as the moderator of the discussion, which was centered around Tyson’s Corner in Fairfax County, Virginia. Having grown up in the area, I have witnessed the tremendous growth. This area is home to 105,000 employees but only 17,000 residents. The Tyson’s Corner team is steadily working towards acheiving several long-term goals in the area, but face growing problems of congestion, land use, and need to find new and innovative ways to gain public support of the comprehensive project. While it is clear that Tyson’s Corner faces many pressing challenges, perhaps the biggest will be reversing the consequences of inaction.

During the discussion on Tyson’s Corner, I couldn’t help but think of Crabtree Valley Mall and the problems we face with congestion there. As many of you may already know, the traffic at Crabtree Valley is a problem I am working hard to solve. Taking part in the forum on Tyson’s Corner encouraged me to continue the dialogue surrounding a solution to the growing problem of traffic and congestion at Crabtree Valley.

Without a doubt this experience was beneficial for all who participated. I would like to thank the folks at the Raleigh Chamber for coordinating the trip and allowing me to serve on the Inter-City Task Force! I encourage other local business leaders to get involved with the program and consider joining us next year.

I would like to clarify that I did NOT use any public money to attend this trip. I provided my own funding for my participation.

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