Though the Vienna Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce has recently dropped Vienna from its name to become the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, chamber president Lisa Huffman says the organization will better serve small businesses in Vienna moving forward.
"We are not leaving them behind," Huffman said. "I see us doing more than what we've been doing in the past to support the businesses in Vienna ... Just stay with us. Let us give you the opportunity to prove we haven't left you behind. Change is difficult. I don't care who you are."
The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce represents 450 businesses in the area and Vienna businesses no longer make up the majority of those members, Huffman said.
"The demographics have obviously changed over the years," she said.
Businesses in McLean, Reston, Tysons Corner and other parts of Fairfax County make up the chamber's membership, she said. It also represents large businesses in Tysons Corner and small businesses throughout the area.
"There's room for both," she said. "They have different needs, different issues, but they have some of the same, too."
Vienna Council Member Edythe Kelleher said she understands the chamber's motivation.
"I can understand that things do change," Kelleher said. "They don't want to be a small town chamber anymore. They want to be bigger."
The recent name change is part of a rebranding effort that started in 2009, Huffman said. But that's not the only big change. This week, the chamber is moving from its office in downtown Vienna, where it has been located for the past 20 years, to a building on Jones Branch Road in Tysons Corner.
Huffman says the new office will allow the chamber's board to meet on site. It will also help the chamber host small workshops. The chamber's office in Vienna is too small to accomodate groups, she said.
Kelleher said she and others have wondered what the shift will mean for events the chamber has long run with the town — including Oktoberfest and the Halloween Parade, which happen each year in part because of the chamber members who volunteer in planning or the day of the festivals.
While the town has its own Town Business Liasion Committee, its function is to promote the relationships between the town and local businesses and deal with issues that arise — because of its small size and nature, it can't operate the way a traditional chamber does.
"That's the biggest conern we all have is that the chamber members do a lot in Vienna with events that the town holds, and if it's no longer the Vienna chamber, are there going to be enough chamber members that will continue to do that? I think we'll have to see," Kelleher said.
On the chamber's end, the changes have brought about a renewed energy and excitement within the organization, Huffman said. It mirrors the 50-year plan for Tysons Corner's expansion, and some programming will as well: Next up for the chamber is a panel discussion on "The Four Towns of Tysons." The event will include partners from the Georgelas Group, Macerich, CityLineProperties and other Tysons Corner developers.
"Every time I see a new drawing of what it's going to look like, I'm like, 'Wow,'" Huffman said. "It's going to be exciting ... It's going to be huge."
Editor Erica R. Hendry contributed reporting to this story.