Correction to This Article
The Post 200 section misstated the timing of a statement by the Pentagon Federal Credit Union. It was in May 2008, not this month, that the credit union said it would consider becoming a mutual savings bank in the case of "extraordinary external events." The section also incorrectly described M.C. Dean Inc. as 50 years old; the company is 60 years old.
Editor's Note

Wednesday, May 13, 2009; T02

The local business community has been through quite a year of upheaval. It is impossible to read through the company profiles in this year's Post 200 and not get a sense of the damage that has been inflicted by the economic downturn.

And yet, all is not gloom and doom. Companies big and small appear to be repositioning themselves for new opportunities and better times. Washington is playing a huge role in this transformation, as the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration shovel trillions of dollars out the door to bolster the broader economy.

The spending bonanza reminds us of just how important the federal government is to the health of the local economy. Staff writer Terri Rupar explores that relationship in her cover story elsewhere in these pages.

Of course, such transformations can be wrenching; one need look no further than the rise in the local unemployment rate in recent months. But Thomas Heath in his Value Added column finds that local business leaders have much to teach us about adapting to economic uncertainties. Barbara Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, urges people to be entrepreneurial.

"You have to constantly reinvent yourself," she tells Heath.

The D.C. chamber is doing just that. So is the region's technology community, according to Kim Hart, our Download columnist. She writes about how local technology companies are shifting their business strategies to meet new requirements from the federal government.

There are regrets, sure. But as Steven Pearlstein writes in his wonderful profile of Joe Robert, the essence of a successful business person is the ability to focus on what's next.

So we may be collectively hunkered down. But just as the region bounced back from the 2000 tech meltdown and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the business community appears to be in the process of remaking itself again. It will be a fascinating story to watch.

-- Dan Beyers

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