Reston Chamber Already Has Full Slate Of Events Planned For 2022

·4 min read

RESTON, VA — Charles Kapur doesn't have to think too hard about what was the high point of 2021 for the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

"The highlight really was getting people back together when social distancing restrictions were lifted in May," said Kapur, who serves as GRCC's president and CEO. "We had taken all of our programming for over a year and made it virtual. It was just was exciting to see our business community be able to find productivity and engagement in that virtual environment."

Like most organizations across Northern Virginia, GRCC had canceled all in-person meetings and events in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Kapur applauded chamber members' ability to continue engaging virtually, it wasn't the same as face-to-face contact.

"We knew that once we were allowed to bring them together, it was going to just bring a different level of energy, a different level of collaboration," Kapur said.

Over the summer, GRCC conducted a series of in-person networking events that were well attended, and in fall the chamber was able to host its annual golf tournament and awards banquet.

In September, as the delta variant led to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the region, the chamber instituted stricter protocols so that it could continue offering live programming. To attend an event, a member had to provide proof of a full vaccination or request an exemption if they provided a recently administered negative test. These restrictions remain in effect.

One of the main reasons people join the chamber is to attend in-person events where they can meet potential clients and business partners, according to Kapur. So, it made sense for the chamber to be judicious about hosting events safely.

"There are a few things that are inherently in common between all entrepreneurs," Kapur said. "They're looking for an opportunity to grow their business by either adding new customers or partnering with providers that are going to allow them to expand or evolve their business. They're looking for educational resources to be able to make them more effective entrepreneurs. And those are all opportunities that the chamber provides."

In addition, the chamber offers business owners affordable access to marketing and business development solutions, as well as opportunities for volunteerism and community engagement.

"A lot of individuals have that sense of connection to the local community, but most of us don't even know where to begin," Kapur said. "We can offer you entree to a lot of the great civic organizations to allow you and your employees the opportunity to serve the community."

For the second year in a row, GRCC will produce the Fairfax County Valor Awards ceremony, an annual event recognizing the heroic efforts of the county's first responders, including this in Fairfax City and the towns of Herndon and Vienna. The ceremony will take place at the end of March.

The chamber will also be hosting the 10th Annual B2G Matchmaking Conference & Expo in May.

"This is our opportunity to connect small government contractors with large primes and federal agencies for procurement purposes," Kapur said. "It's a day where they can come in and have dedicated one-on-one time with these procurement officers to be able to grow their business."

In 2021, GRCC was able to relaunch its INCspire grant program. The non-profit provides business education, support and mentorship to emerging businesses in Fairfax County. Over the next few weeks, a committee will begin reviewing applications from business seeking grant funding for their projects with a grand prize of $15,000.

Related: Dulles Chamber Benefits Both Business Owners, Herndon Community

GRCC is also a member, along with the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, of the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, which advocates on behalf of business issues at the state level.

"This three-headed coalition allows us to represent a significant block of businesses down in Richmond, and we get together to advocate for positions that are mutually agreed upon between the three organizations," Kapur said.

During the 2022 session of the Virginia General Assembly, the partnership will continue to advocate for policies that are important to the region, such as affordable housing and the need for workforce development and retention.

"We advocate for policies and positions that allow the great employers that are coming into the Northern Virginia region, specifically Fairfax County, to be able to have access to the skilled workforce that they need to fill the job openings that they have," Kapur said. "We're also advocates for our local transportation modality, making sure that the organizations that oversee and impact transportation whether that's roadway or mass transit, receive the funding and support that they need. Those are the high level issues that we as a chamber are always advocating for."

This story is part of Patch's ongoing effort to cover the business community in the Reston area. If you are a member of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and would like to be profiled in an upcoming Patch story, please fill out this form. Business owners who may contact the Reston Patch reporter directly at michael.oconnell@patch.com.

This article originally appeared on the Reston Patch