Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce events generally bear little resemblance to Hollywood functions such as the Academy Awards, but this year's 2005 Business Awards Ceremony, held Sept. 28 at the McLean Hilton, had some similarities.

For starters, there was an entourage. Throughout the cocktail hour, Hilary Bruggen, who received the chamber's Innovative Business Person of the Year award later that night, was trailed by a small posse including out-of-town PR agent Jane Rohman. Hiring a flack isn't entirely out of the ordinary, of course, but Bruggen might have been able to toot her own horn just fine among the crowd of 100 or so.

After all, she specializes in the business of networking. As chief executive of D.C.-based Strelmark LLC, Bruggen teaches chief executives and aspiring CEOs how to move up the corporate ladder by sharpening their interpersonal skills. "Only 15 percent of success is based on technical competency," said Bruggen. "We train on the other 85 percent."

Bruggen's most effective business development exercise? Golf, of course. "After four hours, you know someone better. There's a depth of familiarity," explained Bruggen about the game's illuminating qualities.

As in Hollywood, the awards banquet also featured the fashionable no-show: Charlie Thomas, chief executive of business software firm Razorsight and the chamber's Entrepreneur of the Year, did not make the ceremony.

Chamber representatives explained that Thomas was out of town, but next time he receives local accolades he might at least try the pop-in, which was executed to perfection by Fairfax County Supervisor Joan M. DuBois (R-Dranesville), who represents the McLean area. DuBois made an appearance toward the end of the cocktail hour, sat down for dinner, delivered the benediction and departed less than five minutes later.

She left official responsibilities the rest of the night to Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D). It's hard to make an early exit, after all, when you are the master of ceremonies.

The chamber also honored Cardinal Bank Vice President Lynn Gulick and Adzig Logo Promotions exec Sheri Sylvester with the Chairman's Award. Diane K. Cruz, owner of the event planning company Golden Celebrations, received the Most Valuable Member Award, and American Legion Post 270 was named Nonprofit Organization of the Year for its Angels of Mercy program, which supplies clothing and other items to wounded soldiers and their families.

Developers Get a VIP Escort

Given the lack of Class A office space in the Richmond Highway corridor, developers interested in putting up glistening high-rise office complexes in the designated revitalization area might be treated like royalty by Fairfax County officials.

Indeed, when the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority chauffeured around 20 representatives last Thursday morning from commercial real estate heavyweights, including Cushman & Wakefield, Spaulding & Slye Colliers and others, along with a gaggle of county government staff members and members of the press, the luxury tour bus was escorted motorcade-style by two Fairfax County police cars.

As the bus made stops to inspect properties such as the Kingstowne Towne Center and the Joe Alexander Transportation Center at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, Fairfax County police cars 4259 and 4519 stopped and waited.

The officers sat in their cars and chatted as county officials such as County Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) gave the hard sell to the development crowd. "All of a sudden this has become a dynamic place," said Hyland, as his captive audience stared at Stop No. 7, a strip shopping center with a Chuck E. Cheese's in an area designated as Kings Crossing.

The two squad cars helped the bus navigate a three-hour tour of the Richmond Highway and Springfield business districts that began at the new Metro Park office complex in Springfield and ended at the Gunston Commerce Center off the Richmond Highway near the Prince William County line.

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