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Vienna Business Assn. installs leadership, looks ahead

Greg Kunstbeck will serve as organization's chairman for coming year
Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert (center, in teal dress) poses with the Vienna Business Association's 2024 board of directors Feb. 15, 2024, after administering members' oaths of office at the Vienna Community Center.

The Vienna Business Association (VBA) on Feb. 15 installed its 2024 board of directors, reviewed its mission and accomplishments, and briefed members on upcoming initiatives and how they can pitch in.

VBA’s 2024 board of directors consists of Greg Kunstbeck (chairman), Kathy Georgen (treasurer), Akram Aleahmad, Craig Burns, Elizabeth Korondy, Jeff Bollettino, Karen Kerrigan, Kelly Miller, Laura Morrow, Paula McGinnis and Preeti Penati.

Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert administered the oath of office to the new board during the “State of the VBA Union” luncheon at the Vienna Community Center. Colbert recalled how the organization had begun in August 2012 because of dissatisfaction what then was the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, which had relocated to Tysons.

The town at the time was led by her mother, the late Mayor M. Jane Seeman, who was proud of VBA’s Vienna-focused mission, Colbert said.

“Tysons and Vienna aren’t the same. We all know that, right?” she said. “Vienna is different.”

The organization now has 285 members, 51 percent of which consist of businesses with up to five employees. Nine percent of members are companies with six to 15 workers and another 16 percent consist of non-profit groups.

VBA in 2023 raised its annual membership fees for the first time since the group’s founding. Membership rates range from $100 for junior entrepreneurs to $750 for companies with 100 or more employees.

The organization is single-minded about streamlining costs, said Georgen, who runs an accounting firm.

“We keep away from a brick-and-mortar facility, which is part of the lean-and-mean philosophy,” she said.

VBA leaders asked for help with this year’s Vienna Oktoberfest, which since 2013 has served as the group’s primary fund-raiser. The beer-themed event raises about 55 percent of VBA’s revenue and accounts for roughly 40 percent of its fund-raising expenses. Oktoberfest typically nets VBA about $30,000 annually, but last year’s event exceeded those expectations, group members said.

Luncheon attendees also received briefings from VBA’s various committees. Craig Burns, who chairs the Green Committee, noted that the group recently had received a $7,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to tackle litter issues.

The VBA Foundation, which serves as the organization’s philanthropic and charitable arm, provides grants and scholarships to non-profits and charity groups in the Greater Vienna area. The foundation, which is financed via alcohol-sales proceeds from the Oktoberfest event, so far has distributed $71,500 to local groups.

In addition to Oktoberfest this fall, VBA will hold the Get Healthy Vienna! Expo on April 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. The 2024 expo will be about twice as large as last year’s and will include separate adult and children-and-family sections.

VBA executive director Peggy James said belonging to the organization builds credibility and shows support for Vienna.

“We are so embedded in the town of Vienna,” James said. “The town has such a great vibe.”

VBA chairman Kunstbeck urged members to continue building strong ties with each other. “You are not just business partners, you are friends,” he said.