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John Holden: How local government can help grow your business
Episode 1279th May 2022 • The Business Samurai • John Barker
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My next guest holds a position that for many of you is probably an underutilized resource in your own community to help you grow your business.

John Holden is the Economic Development Director of Stafford County.

For over 25 years, John navigated Maine tourism, community and economic development, and international business development. In 2018, he brought his knack for consensus building, and entrepreneurship to the Mid-Atlantic. Whether he’s stirring up new initiatives in Stafford or a recipe in the kitchen, John is passionate about creativity and innovation and seeks phenomenal results in the community.

John holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in regional economics from the University of Maine.

https://www.gostaffordva.com

https://fredericksburg.com/news/local/mammoth-amazon-fulfillment-center-slated-for-centreport-parkway-in-stafford/article_077f403e-ee69-56f0-9abe-cf1dbc2ffb05.html

https://www.gostaffordva.com/2021/10/the-garrison-groundbreaking-ceremony/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-holden-65142513/

Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcripts

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Welcome to the business samurai podcast.

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I am your host, John Barker.

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My next guest holds a position that for many of you is probably an underutilized

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resource in your own community that can help you grow your business.

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My next guest is a director of economic development and

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tourism at Stafford county, Mr.

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John Holden for over 25 years, John navigated, Maine.

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Community and economic development and international business development

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in 2018, he brought his knack for consensus, building entrepreneurship and

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a bad golf swing to the Mid-Atlantic.

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Whether he's starting up new initiatives and Stafford or a recipe in the kitchen.

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John is passionate about creativity and innovation and seeking

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phenomenal results in the community.

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John holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science from

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the bowling green state unit.

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And a master's degree in regional economics from the university of Maine.

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I had the pleasure of watching John break it down with the dance floor at

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the Frederick bird regional chamber of commerce event, 2022 just a few

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weeks ago, as a matter of fact, John, thanks for taking the time.

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Really appreciate it.

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Good to be good, John.

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I appreciate the invitation.

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No we've.

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I've had had a good time hanging out with you over the last few weeks at

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different events around the community.

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You're definitely a man about town, a face to be seen and recognized.

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Hey, and John, and had John baldheaded Johns have to hang together.

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I appreciate, I that's part of what we do in this career for, I frankly, is engaging

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with the community clearly more of the business side of it, not exclusively.

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And it's also about building place and community, connecting people

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and put businesses together.

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So it's a pleasure to be here and, To all your listeners and viewers take the

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advice that we may share here in the next bit, as you will get what you pay for.

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But no I really love what I do.

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That's the first key thing to anyone in business, right?

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You own the business or work in the business.

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It's important to be passionate about.

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And I think one of the things that, I reason I wanted to have a conversation

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with you having worked and known other people in your position and other

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communities I've been in was, I do feel like it's probably an untapped

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resource, but also wanting to, what does it take, your background to

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take, to get in a position to be, at the forefront of community business.

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Appreciate it.

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In third grade, when the teacher said.

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

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I raised my hand and said I wanted to be an economic developer.

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Of course, that's a joke.

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No one looked this career is often people stumble into it or fall into it.

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And either you're passionate about it or you're not people in this career know

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may have a public policy background, may have a business background,

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may have economics in my case.

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Planning.

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It's just it's a very raw, it's a significant career.

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But it's very varied that way.

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So I was, I was studying environmental sciences and thought I wanted to

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be a regional planner and decided and discovered back in the day, in

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the old days, the thing called GIS geographic information system, which

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is now on our phones, of course.

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So I'm like, this is cool.

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And I developed this tool.

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And I used it to go to graduate school the tool and learned about retail

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markets and how markets work and at the end of the day, this career, and

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what we do in community economic Walnut is about putting pieces together.

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It's like the game show survivor, right?

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There's I forget how many people start say there's 10 people

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that start on the game survivor.

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They all have their individually.

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Goals, they all want to win the prize, but they have to work together to get there.

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So that's what a community does.

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That's what a good business will do with its employees and investors.

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It's what a good organization does.

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And so a lot of that is what we do in economic development is putting those

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pieces together for people obviously to drive the vision and goal of a community,

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which is really set by policy makers.

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And but someone has to, put the pieces of.

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The other day.

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I, the greatest pleasure I have is putting those people together and find

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someone who, may need to learn about some aspect and maybe get a mentor or

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put a business deal together because they got introduced to somebody.

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So I had all variety of experiences in that, and it's been the last four

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years, just under four years since I came to staffer that obviously I had

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to learn a whole new state and area.

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It's been a, it's been a fascinating, and I love what I do.

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So again, bottom line there.

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So speaking about, coming into a new business and looking at the priorities,

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do you come in and you've come in Stafford and you look around and you say, Hey,

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there's some gaps in the community that we should look at filling, or are you just

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executing something from like the board of supervisors or things of that nature?

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How does that role kind of shape what's in the community?

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People in this kind of role or planners have a role in

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helping guide that strategy.

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With obviously the input of citizens and businesses and

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ultimately the policymakers.

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When I got here four years ago, there was an economic development strategy in place.

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So my focus was let's just do it, let's get it done.

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It's more implementation of that.

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And as a case in point.

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One of the primary examples of there was the center port area in Stafford.

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In fact, I discovered in 1987, strategic economic strategic plan from first Africa

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next year, it said Stafford county.

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One of the primary opportunities that you focus on is what the.

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Warehouse and trucking at the time, the more recent strategy

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said center, port distribution.

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And so we just got to work, and there were some changes in policy that Dysport

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enacted and then doing what we do.

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We've been very successful there.

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And before we focus on that, what we do in that count vomit or

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three primary things we help them.

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Existing customers grow and our existing customers or existing business.

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That's number one, 80% of new job growth comes from existing businesses, too.

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We try to attract investment.

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That's the traditional, old stash and old fashioned chasing, but it's also tourism,

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which we'll get to investment is dollars.

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Tourism is about bringing dollars to the community, so it's bringing

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new business and then thirdly, it's all about messaging, right?

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So we're the, we're the customer service.

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And the marketing arm of a community in economic development.

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And that's what we've been doing here.

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Since I've gotten here anyways, we focused on those three

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initiatives and the messaging was part of what we build in Sanford.

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What's the policy changes that the board enacted after I got here we were

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able to reach out to a number of large developers and property owners and

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say, Hey, look at the opportunity here.

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And that's a lot of the work is making those connection.

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The meeting those people, going to luncheons, finding those connections,

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particularly renewed origin.

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But anyway, we'd been done quite successful there as is you and

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your some of your listeners in this area probably know.

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Yeah, absolutely.

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And for anybody not in the area, the center port park Parkway area is.

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We've got our local airport is around there and there's just, it's

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just prime for a lot of growth.

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And I think one of the things that I want to talk about what your hand

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and what your role in was, we're getting an Amazon fulfillment center.

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What, I guess first and foremost, Your level of involvement or at least awareness

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of this project, it's got to be greater than obviously greater than mine, but

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what does it take to attract they're fortunate to, to sit there and set up,

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particularly when you're talking about, if you looked at the news years ago,

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when they were looking at setting up their second headquarters, there was a

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bidding war across the country for Amazon.

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And now they're putting a distribution center, basically

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10 minutes from my house.

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Yeah.

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It's a good question then.

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We there's a saying it's become kind of cliche and economic

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development that it's a team sport.

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And it is because I can't tell you that a hundred percent, even 90% of why Amazon's

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here is because of something you did in this department, but it had a role, right?

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So that role was encouraging and meeting with developers.

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And when they got the opportunity to say, yes, we can make that happen.

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And work with our planning staff and permitting staff and all the things

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that go along with that and day.

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There's actually two facility to Amazon facilities in Stafford or

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will be in Stafford the fulfillment or just, or delivery station as they

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call them is I think the one picture there that's the place where the last

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place that box is before it gets to.

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That means I'm going to get my packages and under an hour from when

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said outfits, I don't know how many thousands of these around the country.

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Sure.

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So that's, that was coming to this area one way or another.

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So we were lucky to get it in Stafford and it's a strategic location for them.

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And that's a key, another key point.

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The reason Centerport in 1987, when I got here and 2018 was identified

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as a key area for distribution.

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It's the number one rule in business location, right north of the river

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on 9 95 Ray to serve the DMV period.

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So we had that advantage.

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So that just like any business, you use your competitive advantage and sell, and

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that's what we've been able to help do.

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They located that here.

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That's actually know operations now.

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Literally San report's a long street and there's not really.

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A block to the south and across the street from that a second Amazon facility,

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that's over six, over three times.

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The size of that one.

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That's something they call a cross dock facility, which is the place

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where packages go from around the world gets sorted before they go to another

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center, which they call it delivery, which they call it distribution center.

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Before they come back to the place, across the street to come to your home fast.

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Distribution is a fascinating high-tech industry right now.

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Just all the things that, how, how do you get your package in two days?

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It's amazing.

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I'm Eric.

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So we're lucky too, that build the second one.

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The cross dock facility is in construction.

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Now it's supposed to be operational in the next six to 12 months between that

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one and the one that's open that's.

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Most of 700 jobs.

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Okay.

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I was getting ready to ask.

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What was that?

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What was the economic impact to the to the area expected to be let alone

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the, obviously the tax revenues from the real estate got that cross dock,

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the delivery station alone is over half a million dollars in local taxes.

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So that's a part of, broadening the tax base and Stafford.

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So we're, I'm in broadening economy, right?

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Like anything, if you're selling one product and you're in that product

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tanks or the market tanks on that product, you might go out of business.

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So same thing in a community, you want to have a wider spread

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of economic opportunities, developing a distribution center.

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Or, is, was important.

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Yeah.

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I think you've seen that particularly between the COVID and even the

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financial prices from oh eight where those communities that were

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built upon one single industry or even one single company, when those

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guys pulled up chalks and said, Hey, we can't do this here anymore.

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Yeah.

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And you wait, we have significant in government contracting

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using a broad statement.

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A lot of that in.

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And things we don't even know about because what they do.

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That's, if there's a government change or shut downs or things like

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that has a big impact on San Fran.

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So another reason to broaden that tax base we had I haven't

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checked this number lately.

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It won't be significantly higher, but less than 2% of our employment is Stafford.

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Again, industrial, okay.

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One of my goals was to raise that at least a 5% over my career here, which has just

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started just because again, to broaden that opportunity for people living in this

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region, if not Stafford, specifically.

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So yeah, Centerport those are two projects.

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There's another project taking place there, which would

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be an even larger facility.

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So that's all important for that tax base.

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New jobs and just up the road, of course, DHL was there's another 570 jobs.

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We have a significant role in bringing DHL here and competing

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to they were the first one.

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We really had a more significant role in in terms of how this business works,

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where someone comes to us and says, do you want this business in your community?

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Maybe we don't.

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Maybe it's a certain type of industry you don't right.

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But if it is, then you work with them and see if there's a,

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something you can sweeten the pot, either tax incentive of some kind.

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And did they, that does not make the decision.

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The company's decision is based on their business model, their location,

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and the cost of doing business in your community, which we are

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fortunate to have a lower cost here than say the rest of the Engenia.

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You took it on a couple things I want to follow up on there.

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First with having Amazon and DHL coming into the area.

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How much easier have having the big brand?

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Like Amazon here to go out there to do your next big, Hey, do you guys

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want to open your next shop here?

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We've got Amazon.

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We've got this.

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How does that make your job easier?

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So I mentioned the three roles of customer service on the messaging.

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We redid our economic all website in the last last six to nine months

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and doing a lot more on social media and tracking those things.

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The number one page we're still getting traction on is the Amazon press.

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Through our website and then follow the people are actually, oh, let

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me look at these other pages.

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And they're looking into other pages like the cost of doing business

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and what infrastructure you have.

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So it's significant.

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It, there's no doubt about it.

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Just the brand is important.

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And that's the, one of the thing we've been trying to do with our brand is

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Stafford, as you probably noticed on our social media has developed a consistent

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brand a message and want to keep with it.

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And when we can add those other names, Absolutely.

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You mentioned something.

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I was just curious to just want to follow up on about an area that may

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not want a type of business in there.

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Do you have any examples?

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I'm not even saying necessarily staffer, but maybe something where you

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sit there and go community said, nah, we don't, you're not welcome here.

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Yeah.

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I've worked in communities that did not want in some states the growing of.

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I don't know, marijuana, whatever it's called.

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In very secure facilities is a business opportunity.

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And I've worked in communities that said, no, we don't interesting.

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And that's fine.

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That's a policy decision, right?

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If that's the policy, that's the policy, right?

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There's others, obviously the bigger inverted industry and sometimes.

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Online in certain places.

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And to the day, I've been in communities where there's been a business, that's

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been poking around the site and, the surrounding area, community members,

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property owners didn't want it.

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And in the day that's what we do in the USA right.

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Publicly.

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And if that's, then sometimes that let that happen.

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So that's who we work for.

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Shifting gears a little bit.

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We talked about the single big entity, like Amazon coming in here.

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There's another project that's taking place near my house as well that

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I know you, you probably know at a higher level, it's called the Garrison.

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And for anybody listening, not obviously not in the area and they're not familiar

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with this is like 500,000 square feet.

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It's a mixture of retail is going to be apartments.

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I'm very excited for the forthcoming movie theater that is.

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Braiding back to the area again, how difficult is it to bring large

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community projects of that nature?

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One to fruition to actually get them to an execution point after you went

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through, who knows how much strategy and bringing all the stakeholders to the table

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to making something like that happen?

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It is very complicated.

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I particularly multi-use projects, particularly in certain areas, but

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one, one point is that every person.

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It's unique.

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You can't compare the gears into the Amazon project, right?

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Whatever happened to the quiet town center or, national Harbor, they're all unique.

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And the reason they're unique is first of all, they're on a

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unique piece of dirt in the world.

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And there's unique attributes around that dirt in the soil, along the road,

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and the people are unique, and I've seen projects and deals, fall crowds for all.

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Which has including people just not getting along.

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I have that written down as like a weird follow-on to, however you answered this

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end of the day it's if that's, it's an analogy I mentioned, since Reiber thing,

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we all went to in the same place and if you don't, you move on right now.

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I'm not suggesting that in the Garrison it at all, but it has been a time comment.

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I know people in Stafford heard about it from you.

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I can just say that it's still last conversation I had with defense

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group, it's still happening.

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But again, the complications are changing and COVID and the moving

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market and changes in ownership of the movie industry, all kinds of things.

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It's a butterfly effect.

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Sometimes you don't know that something all the way across the

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world has an impact on a project.

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Absolutely.

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Yeah.

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And that's, and I guess that's one of the things, coming back into

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there, coming back, I have a project management background and a lot of

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times you're sitting there trying to navigate all of those different

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perspectives and stakeholders, and everybody's may not exactly have.

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The same reason why they're involved in a project and how hard that is on

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something of this scale, the millions and millions of dollars to how long it

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takes to get from groundbreaking to boom.

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You can, somebody can move into a new apartment or somebody

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can open up their store.

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How hard that is.

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Honestly, the John Deere's probably at least 24, if not 36 months.

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pre-Brown pre-ground sure even, yeah.

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Even prior all the planning stages before that.

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Absolutely.

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Some are a little more straightforward, obviously a center port area

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that's ready for distribution.

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Here's a distributed center bank.

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Already zoned all that kind of thing.

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So that all just complicates things.

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In our role is to facilitate them end of the day, we can certain rules that

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are required by, environmental rules and appropriate zoning and all that.

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And we try to bring everything to the table and try to facilitate that.

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W one last thing on this area, and then we'll go to a complete, some

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completely different is one of the things I've been in this region.

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Most of my life bouncing around between Spotsy Fredericksburg, Stafford Cole

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pepper, and it felt, and it feels like in a lot of the areas are.

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It's not been planned out the communities and been planning out extremely well.

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And we used to use the term sprawl all the time.

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I remember used to saying particularly younger signs up, stop the sprawl.

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And I would say more so in the Fredericksburg area are we getting better?

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Predicting and planning for growth strategies.

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So we can actually better plan these.

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So you don't have you go into some of the shopping centers and there's three layers

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of stuff in there tearing up parking lots and the communities, and we're

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getting these bottlenecks and traffic.

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Are we getting better with trying to predict, grow, be able to manage the

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growth in a better way where we're not constricting ourselves in other areas?

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I would like to think so with our colleagues in planning The planning

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commission, ultimate policies.

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We just did a comprehensive plan update recently.

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And that's what that's about.

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And that's why when a project comes in and has to meet the company, and if it

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doesn't, you have to look at the comp plan and say, do we want to change this?

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And those are all ultimately policy decisions, staff have

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input on recommendations and this and that, and the day.

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You're talking to someone who works here now.

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So I'd like to think we're doing better.

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Like I said, I've experienced this my whole life.

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And you seeing we all know there's a lot of traffic and a lot of traffic on six 10.

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And part of that is the nature of how that developed, it is.

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I'm not.

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Oh, no, I'm here to play me.

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You're the newbie and this is the new guy monitor for a couple of years.

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And finally, somebody said, you gotta stop using that.

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You get away with it until somebody actually tells you that.

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I had somebody tell me that there for three days, one time anyway, but no

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we're looking at, obviously the exit one 40 right down, what we call it.

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What does now?

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The area called downtown Stafford is an area we hope

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develops a little differently.

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There's a vision in the comp plan of of of a more urban, not New York city, but

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a more urban environment in that area.

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More density, more walkable.

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Nan say other areas not suburban and there's nothing wrong with suburbia,

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but so we are, we have planned for it.

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We just have to see if we can help foster.

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No.

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That's awesome.

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And I would say, I don't know how much this local or not.

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It just feels like the, sometimes the infrastructure

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that, to support that stuff.

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And it's not just, it's not limited to here I've been in other states that do

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the same thing, massive growth, teeny tiny infrastructure, utility support.

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What's there.

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And everybody's oh, that's a complicated model as well.

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No, absolutely.

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Absolutely.

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The department of transportation has a role in that and we worked with AMA were.

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There's a lot of traffic, but it's not as easy to build a new world.

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So again, having been in the area for awhile, switching to your tourism

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hat, we'll put your tourism hat on describe a little bit because I've

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heard jokes when people are like, ah, we're going to go stay up in DC.

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There's nothing to do in stat, I don't even know.

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I don't even know if there's anything of historical significance,

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civil war area type of stuff.

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That's here.

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We used to get that in it when I lived at Colepepper, but tore staffer.com.

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All right.

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But let's be honest.

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I've worked in communities in Maine that were not not Portland and not bar Harbor.

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So they're competing with that.

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And Stafford, we're competing with obviously DC and Fredericksburg and.

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They're historically different.

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They're physically different.

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So again, it's like an economic developer.

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You have to build on your assets and contribute to your attributes.

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And so there's two angles there.

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One is again, a new marketing effort through the tourist

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Stafford, we focus our marketing on certain things that make sense.

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We believe to people that would want to come to Stafford from outside.

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Mostly in the recreation area and the cultural heritage areas

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history but not extensively.

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And quite frankly, we hoped to develop or encourage private

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investment in new assets.

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And here's the community economic development side.

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That's stressing the community side.

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In, in this work, we try to build community assets for the.

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It's a double bonus.

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If you can build a community asset that also attracts visitors.

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Okay.

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That makes absolutely work is great for the community whitewater state park.

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I That's great for Stafford really close, but it also attracts

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people that want to do fishing.

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And so what we've done is we parlayed that park and the fact that we're on

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the Potomac river I don't know if but we are the host of the kayak basket.

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National of national renown, if you're in the bass kayak, bass

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fishing and they came, they found us and we said, yes, absolutely.

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It was so popular two years ago was the first year.

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And it's continued during COVID, it's become so popular.

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The owner of that event has created a snake.

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Fishing turn.

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The snake head is a fish in the waters here.

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Okay.

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Apparently is quite a, it's a good, I'm not a Fisher person and

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he's a good fun fish to catch.

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And apparently it's good eaters.

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But because of that, he was able to create a whole new tournament.

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That's bringing people here, going to stay in hotels.

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They're going to buy food and all that helps our economy.

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So point is you create an asset.

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You market an asset that is important to the community and

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you share it with the world and that's the best way to do tourism.

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Same way as we share, George Washington, his boyhood home.

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The other attributes here in Stafford, I guess I forgot

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that is technically a Stafford.

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Isn't it?

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I always know it's somewhere down in that, I think it's near all that line.

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Yes, I am in north Sanford.

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Yes.

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Oh, let's put it.

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Yeah.

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It's the joke is in some community, there's a slice says people

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sometimes just don't cross.

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And I don't get on the, I don't get on the other side of the tracks very frequently.

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That is not limited to here.

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This used to be jokes and other places that I lived it's

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like that street right there.

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If you lived on that side, there's no reason for you to cross it.

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And a lot of communities around the world.

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Yeah.

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So tourism is an important part of what we do.

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And again, that's part of the messaging.

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It's part of the investment because every time we're attracting, we do a lot in

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sports, particularly soccer tournaments.

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Did you have for our center in Sweden?

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Very nice facility.

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That's here in the community.

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Absolutely.

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For tournaments, which then spend their money.

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Which is part of the tourism attraction piece that we do.

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It's the tourism piece, a significant portion of the overall revenue,

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or are you got a goal that you're trying to raise it to, or they

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expect it to, based on the assets and resources that are there here, it's a

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different part of our budget for sure.

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I could get, I could make out off, go there.

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But yes.

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And part of the thing I've tried to do in the four years here is meld

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that with economic development.

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Some of the tourism things we're doing now we participated in

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something called modern day Marine.

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Yes.

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Big event for government contractors.

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Of course, for anybody listening, not in the area Marine Corps

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Quantico base is right here.

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Yeah.

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Obviously it's stopped for two years.

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Now they're having up in DC, but that's a big tourism thing because of.

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Cadets and ever come in there, where can I eat?

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Where can we go?

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Where do I stay?

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If I'm a government contractor, can I stay here as a cheaper here?

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So we've used those as a tourism thing, but we've melded that with an economic

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demand and gold, because a lot of the contractors and people going to that are

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entrepreneurs right from around the world.

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They want to sell the Marine Corps.

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And so that's why we've melded that with our entrepreneur effort,

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which is relatively new as well.

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You get into a little bit too.

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And then that's the melding of tourism and economic development

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because you're attracting investment is the broadest way to put it.

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Whether that be a new company, a new startup and Amazon, or someone coming

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in to have an event or a meeting or a wedding and spend their money.

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Yes, lots of wineries, lots of things of that nature around

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this area that are awesome.

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Shifting gears, cause you mentioned it already.

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What are some of the specific tools programs that, that the county that

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your area has for people either starting up new businesses or small

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businesses looking to move to the area?

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First of all, we're a clearing house for, a variety of state and stuff.

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So we can put people in touch with certain things.

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For example, there may be a certain grant program.

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There is in the agricultural sector now, no for companies that make food products.

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If you buy here agricultural products and vision, there's a grant program.

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So we know how to make those connections.

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We don't do those grants for the companies, but we share those together.

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We did establish to our Stafford economic drought authority.

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We call them Mike.

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Program.

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These are common in a lot of jurisdictions, but

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we didn't have one here.

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So the idea is that there are often businesses, whether they be startups

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or not that needle need alone to expand their business or try something

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different that may be of a nature that the bank, the commercial market can't

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do either because it's too small, too risky, or the, a little bit of

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credit issues with the applicant.

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Government entity comes in is to provide that gap that got financing

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caught for that business to, to start to start their program.

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We just recently did a micro loan of think it was $15,000 for a woman who

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is starting a virtual resume video, vertical resume program out of her home.

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And wonder and it's alone.

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So we had to do our underwriting and all that.

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And it's, it looks like a good project and we're happy to, find answer, and we'll

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encourage her along the way, obviously, because these are public resources.

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So I have to be very careful of these, but we are in a position

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where we can do take a little more risk because we don't have shared.

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So that's another example of a very specific example of

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a micro loan that we have.

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So we have resources, we have direct resources, we can also put people in touch

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with resources to expand their business.

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We can also work with them on, just figuring out the way to, if it's

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a physical expansion or finding properties and that kind of thing.

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That's another thing we traditionally doing that cannot always find that right.

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Property, find that no, make them aware of some things, you don't do

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all their homework, but we try to help the entrepreneur small or large

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expand their business and staff.

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I was gonna say, I know some of the resources out there, you probably have

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access to every piece of data related to the county or pretty close to it.

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I'd imagine then probably some of the online resources that may pick or choose.

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So having a lot more of a touch point, as well as the connections with people in

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the local community, as well as you need to talk to XYZ person, whether it be the

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size of the waterline of the size of the the septic tank is not big enough yet.

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Who do you talk to thing, right?

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Because all those things do matter, but it's often the thing that the

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entrepreneur is the last thing on their mind, they want to make their widgets.

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It is a, it's a fascinating industry to work in for me, particularly working

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with entrepreneurs and different types of businesses because the

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types of things you learn in types of businesses that are going on, it's

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just everything from, obviously meals, but also high-tech businesses or we're

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working with a company that wants to design a new method for crosswalks.

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Visually impaired people go across the crosswalk.

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So that ties into our entrepreneurial effort with Lyft, the smart PDF Testament.

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One of the things I think that surprised me, cause I've not seen this in other

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areas was that your department was actually hosting, get togethers.

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Yeah, and I've definitely not seen the local government take a lead in

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saying, Hey let's get a group together.

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And that was the beer and something.

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The one that I know that I went to, which you know, but but being actually

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out in the front and saying, Hey, we're going to run community events.

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I never, I have yet.

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I've not seen that often and others, and depending on the nature of the

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region and the community but we've had an annual Coming up, it will be

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our business appreciation research.

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And I'd like to mention on May 25th all this information I'm probably might as

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on go staffer.com for plugin, but that's been an annual thing and it was, it's

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been, untraditional, dinner things.

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And we were trying to shake it up a little bit this year, have a little fun with it.

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But beyond that, we.

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We want to build this business community a little bit.

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So we started these things.

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We call it, we haven't had four breweries in saffron and one winery.

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So the timing worked out well.

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Cause we're not in the business of doing events.

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So we have every quarter we have something we called the beer

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business and it's designed to get people together, good ideas.

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There might be a business person.

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You have not met in Stafford, but you might want to do this.

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And that's part of our business, that's then sell to that

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person because you met him.

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Great.

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That's commerce.

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And just one plug, we're going to have wine and business coming up here.

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So it's not all being business line of business coming up, but the

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next beer of business is May 18th.

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And it's a little theme is.

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Business and baseball.

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So Fred NATS are sponsoring that, that beer in business.

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So we'll hear from that might be a little bit of fun.

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That's out of Highmark brewery.

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So there's an average.

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So we have a little bit of theme, it has to, you have to pay for these things.

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So we'd have a sponsor and we have the raw truth, and this

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is the raw truth of baseball.

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I like it because I think a lot of people think they think there's a

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distance between the local government or just government in general and

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the community and what I've really enjoyed about what you have done in

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the, my time and Stafford that I've seen is you've made it approachable.

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You've made yourself approachable and easy to talk to.

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And I greatly appreciate that.

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I obviously have no problem really coating to talk but.

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But at the same time, there are a lot of others and other communities

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can be Stonewall wall gardened off, a little bit, and you guys have

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opened yourself up to that community.

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And I have greatly appreciated that the messaging and customer service, right?

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Yeah.

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We're here to help business grow and Stafford.

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If somebody if just a general community member wanted to reach out and say,

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Hey what do I do to get involved?

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I think we've got some gaps here.

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I want to, throw a voice in what's the best way for them to typically do that.

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Starting with the website there's contacts all over the place goes Stafford va.com.

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If you can come to the office, walk in the door in the government center.

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But it goes to aggravate.com is the best source, because then you can figure

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out which staff person to talk to.

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If you're somebody who's like looking for financing, then you

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want to talk to this person.

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If you just let that general, how do I grow my business?

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There's another person, yours and tourism is another piece.

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We tried to make it in fact, that website The Chamber's regional

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award recently as a new marketing.

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And that is correct.

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So apparently it's pretty good.

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And that's the best batter, look us up and gives a phone call, and for

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anybody that's not necessarily in the area, listen to this going w w.

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We had some programs like this in my community.

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Is this something that should be receptive that we can go back and say

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that anybody else could go back to their local community and say, okay, most do

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it's, it's, it gets lost in the, in all the messaging we get, I would say most

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communities have some efforts, probably some better than others, but our current

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pounce in Fredericksburg and king George.

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They, they do similar things.

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We all have different levels of staffing and capacity.

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Prince William has three times more than three times the staff.

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And I love Chris Darlene against verbatim that we have rights.

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There's that resource issue.

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There's.

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And as, and as I predicted and told you, before I hit the record button, I was

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going to have a circular conversation.

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How much do you actually interact with the other communities in the area?

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If you've got a project that may cross at a borderline or cross

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lines, or you go, Hey, we kinda need some help on this initiative.

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Can you do that?

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Do you get along with others?

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Does everybody play well together?

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Very much economic do all that.

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The business doesn't stop.

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Jurisdictional line is there.

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In fact, our entrepreneur program is actually funded by a regional

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organization called gov Virginia.

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And it's designed to support the Rappahannock region.

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This is a name we made up, which is based in Stafford Fredericksburg, king

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George, and then going down the river, if you will has other technical managers

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who want to bore you with, but that was very much a collaboration with myself.

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My colleague, bill and Fredericksburg and Nick and king George bringing the

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riot program as is called the regional internet of things and technology

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entrepreneurial program to this region.

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It just happens to be in Stafford, but it has to sit somewhere, right?

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So we're doing that in Stafford.

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So very much.

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Somewhat regularly, my colleagues around the region including

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Christina Fitzwilliam, it's just a matter of project by project.

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We were exploring.

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We suddenly a regional program with having to your team, Jordan Kreisberg

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again, to, how we would invest in business parks together as a community.

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And we'll still be exploring that.

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It's just, it is all very complicated and when you get down into the

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details, but economic August is a regional effort period.

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I greatly appreciate the time today.

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I'm going to end with a final note for anybody listening says that.

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Local government is the main thing that affects your daily lives.

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There is the boots on the ground right outside your door.

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And I know that the federal and state always seem to suck up all

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the oxygen as well as all the money.

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But the stuff that affects day to day lives is stuff that happens

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right around you with your neighbors.

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And I encourage everybody to find a way to.

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Getting involved, or, and be aware of what's going on

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and, make your voice heard.

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I find everybody's pretty receptive and for the most part everybody's

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put in print pretty cool.

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But what is the last thing what's the best way for anybody

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to want to connect with you?

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Email LinkedIn.

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What's the, so again, the keyword is go Stafford va.com.

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I'm on LinkedIn.

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Most of my band members, your staff.

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Are on LinkedIn.

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That's probably the best way we're on Facebook as well, but there's

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not as much business oriented.

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And or come by the government office and stop in.

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If you have a pretty clear question, we have, guides on starting a

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business and all the awesome things.

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So we're here to help business grow and Stafford and bring investment.

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And I appreciate the chance to share with you today.

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I look forward to any input from any or your viewers.

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Yeah, absolutely.

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No, I appreciate it.

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I'll make sure all of the links are going to be in the show notes

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and transcripts, so anybody can just get to them pretty easily.

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And again, really appreciate the time it's been.

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It's been awesome.

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It's fascinating to me.

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Yeah.