Arlington names a ‘business ombudsman’

Arlington County business people who have trouble getting through the maze of government people and processes now have a troubleshooter.

Assistant county manager Shannon Flanagan-Watson was named “business ombudsman” Tuesday to help resolve issues and identify improvements to the county’s way of doing its own business.

Flanagan-Watson, who has worked for the county for more than 13 years, said her primary goal is “strengthening the [ties] between the county government and business community.”

She will report directly to County Manager Barbara Donnellan, who named her to the job. The idea for the job, which is added on to Flanagan-Watson’s existing duties, came from Donnellan’s “listening tour” of businesses in the fall. Business people told her that they need help finding the right person or resolving roadblocks. She’ll also work with the existing interdepartmental Biz Team, which helps tenants and small businesses navigate the permitting process. It also fits in with County Board chairman Jay Fisette’s goal for more aggressive business development in the county this year.

“I’ll try to diagnose where people have trouble getting through the process,” then fix those difficulties, Flanagan-Watson said. “I’ll be supporting our overall goal to become a premier place to do business.”

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.

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