A few years back, Reston was celebrated as "one of the finest examples of American 20th-century conceptual new town planning."

But business owners in the community's Lake Anne Village section wonder how they'll fare in the 21st century. The collection of independently owned retail stores and restaurants has been struggling because of competition from newer, spiffier shopping centers with nationally known retail chains. Reston Town Center, with Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn and Clyde's, has 311,000 square feet of leasable space; Lake Anne has 46,000.

Today through Saturday, merchants, residents and other interested parties will participate in a planning session to brainstorm ideas to make the village viable in the new millennium.

Modeled on the Italian coastal city of Portofino, Lake Anne Village Center, situated beside a picturesque lake, hasn't weathered so well. "It's a gorgeous plaza, but anything 40 years old has aged and needs a level of upkeep," said Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill). "We need to address some serious infrastructure needs."

The retail complex, named after developer Robert E. Simon Jr.'s first wife, has taken some blows. It twice lost an anchor supermarket and has had a hard time attracting businesses.

Business and community leaders hope to revive Reston's spirit and envision what might be possible to reinvigorate the area's oldest village. "It's an opportunity to get some fresh perspective and to get all the stakeholders at the table," said James Van Zee, director of regional planning services for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which is co-sponsoring the workshop.

Some of the other co-sponsors reflect Reston's evolution. In the late 1960s and '70s, Gulf Oil Corp., and later Mobil Corp., had a major stake in the community. Now interested parties include Northrop Grumman Corp. and Oracle Corp., federal contractors with major operations in Reston.

Armitage on Board

ManTech International Corp. has added some diplomatic star power to its board of directors: Richard L. Armitage, who was deputy secretary of state from March 2001 to February 2005.

The Fairfax company, which has the State Department as a client, specializes in information technology for national-security-related agencies.

Armitage's intimate relationship with Foggy Bottom and its ambassadors around the world will be an asset to the company.

"He is highly regarded throughout the U.S. government for his diplomatic skills, knowledge of international issues and his long and successful career of public service. . . . He has enormous insight into our corporation's capabilities and operations, and he will be a tremendous strategic asset as we grow the company," George J. Pedersen, the company's chairman and chief executive, said in a written statement.

Armitage is president of Armitage International, a consulting firm he founded in March.

Contractor's Expansion

SRA International Inc. has experienced a growth spurt this spring. Last week, the Fairfax-based federal contractor, which provides information technology services to the Defense Department, Internal Revenue Service and other agencies, announced the acquisition of Galaxy Scientific Corp., a New Jersey engineering firm.

The expansion came on the heels of SRA's mid-April purchase of Touchstone Consulting Group Inc., a District-based high-tech contractor to the federal government that specializes in strategic development and communication.

So it's not a surprise to see SRA occupying No. 73 on Business Week's recent list of "Hot Growth Companies."

The company reported sales of $616 million in 2004, with one-year sales growth of 37 percent.

Three other Fairfax companies made the magazine's top 100: PRA International, a Reston company that provides clinical research to pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, was No. 55; Anteon Corp., a Fairfax-based government homeland security contractor, was No. 74; and VSE Corp., an Alexandria military contractor, was No. 83.

Have news about business in Fairfax County? Send an e-mail to silvermane@washpost.com or call 703-383-5103.

Merchants, residents and others are getting together this week to talk about ideas for breathing new life into Lake Anne Village Center.