Marielena Faria
12th Grade
Lake Braddock Secondary School
Burke, VA
Runner-Up Winner

Greater Washington – Why it's the Best Region to Build and Grow a Business
A Field of Dreams

    Every American aspires to be the best they can be- that’s our heritage, our culture. This is only one of the benefits of living in the world’s oldest democracy and one of the richest countries in the world. We all pursue the American dream: to be free, to grow to our full potential, and to leave a legacy to be remembered. Any American can succeed anywhere in the United States if they try hard enough. That’s the greatness of this country. However, there is something special about the Greater Washington region, which offers the perfect business climate to thousands of businesses, both big and small, enabling every entrepreneur to fulfill their dreams. In this sense, the Greater Washington region can be called a “field of dreams.”

    I am fascinated by the richness and vibrancy of the business environment in the Greater Washington region. For example, a trip to the Galleria Mall in Tyson’s Corner, considered a shopping center for the wealthy, will illustrate the buzz and bustle the Mall experiences day by day. From the appearance of constant activity in Tyson’s Corner, one would find it hard to believe that we are currently experiencing an economic slowdown.

My family is proof that dreams can come true. We own a family business and lived for many years in the southern part of the United States, edging along and living a fairly normal life. A few years ago, we moved to the Greater Washington area, and things began to happen at a different pace, for the better. The family business immediately skyrocketed, and the fledgling beginnings were left in the dust. We have grown exponentially and are setting our sights on further expansion and success.

    So what made all the difference after we moved to the Greater Washington area? I sat with my father a few months ago to see if we could get a better understanding of our growth and success. One thing that instantly came to mind was the availability and variety of business opportunities that was open to us. This part of the country held a myriad of opportunities. There were opportunities at the government level, as well as the corporate level. Every opportunity led to new hopes, new visions, and new outlooks. We also found that businesses in this region were incredibly competitive. Survival was key. We could not take anything for granted because we were competing with highly successful people, who had aspirations of being the very best. That made us take a closer look at how we operated as a business. The three pillars of any successful business are – people (staff), processes, and technology. We reviewed our staff and tried to determine if they were a good fit for a growing company. If they weren’t, we replaced them and brought in new people. We trained the rest so that the company could stay competitive. We changed our hiring practices to employ the very best. Success was our key motivator. Next, we looked at all our internal processes to make sure that we were being as efficient as possible. In today’s world, it is called business re-engineering. Lastly, we looked at the technologies we used. Were we using the right hardware and software to stay competitive? What was our competitive advantage? What was our edge?

    We realized, in retrospect, that the Greater Washington region actually changes the way people think about business. Competition brings out the greatest potential in people, as they are constantly trying to improve and stay ahead in order to remain successful in this very competitive world.

    So what is it that sets apart this region from the rest in the country? For one, the Greater Washington region has so much to offer. It holds the best mix of professionals – interns from the many accredited colleges, new graduates from local universities, and mid- to upper-level professionals from the thousands of business that call this region home. In addition, it is rich in culture, as people from all over the world move into this region on a daily basis. Additionally, its transportation system is world class – three international airports, a multi-modal transportation infrastructure, and a highly successful rail and bus public transportation system. Although traffic congestion in this region is often considered high, more and more people move into this area because it has so much to offer. People want to live in a region buzzing with activity, opportunity, and cultural diversity.

    The region also provides the best from a family perspective. Children can study in some of the best school districts in the country. The standard of education is high, given the level of competition that exists. There are also many family-oriented activities from concerts, operas and performances at the Kennedy Center, to the vivid culture on display at the Smithsonian Museums.

    Business opportunities are abundant. However, one needs to stay attentive to local events and gatherings to keep track of those opportunities. The government has also made it easier for small and minority-owned businesses to succeed by providing procurement opportunities for small businesses and setting aside other opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses. Furthermore, there are professional and trade organizations and groups that regularly meet for networking events. This is the best way small businesses can stay abreast of what is happening in the business world. There are also key websites maintained by the government that inform small businesses of upcoming opportunities in the federal work place.

    All in all, the Greater Washington region offers opportunities which no other region can offer. Its wealth of information and resources sets it apart from the other regions in the country. I am personally fortunate to have moved to this part of the country a few years ago. I am learning what it means to be competitive, stay ahead, and give off my best. I see the business environment here paralleling my life in high school. We must work hard and stay attentive and active in local activities. We must participate and network with people, and keep our competitive edge strong to stay ahead. We cannot afford to slow down, as we will be surpassed by other aspiring professionals. I’m glad I had the chance to spend time with my dad learning more about the family business. I now know what it takes to succeed, and that I must always stay alert and do my very best in order to achieve my dreams. We only have one life and one chance to prove ourselves. To succeed in the Capital of the World, we must do our best and be our best. I am prepared to start dreaming as I live in the field of dreams.