Early Briefing: A Walk Down Main

It's Monday, so we're taking a local angle on all the economic news.


By Dominic Bracco II -- The Washington Post

*A bonding company, a Greek restaurant, a bakery, a print shop and a law firm are among the companies lining Fairfax's Main Street. Some are already seeing lean times and predicting more ahead. Others are more optimistic, sure they can weather the economic storm. Some are bothered by the uncertainty.

"If I were to start my life anew, I would not start a small business," said Poppy Tsaderakis, owner of Havabite Eatery. "I am worried about what is going to happen if the economy is going to be unstable. I am worried if I am going to make it."

*For many local tech companies, it's feeling a lot like the tech bust all over again, Kim Hart writes in the Download. The Nasdaq is down, funding has dried up and entrepreneurs are hunkering down for a long winter. It's not that venture capitalists aren't busy -- they're busier than ever. But they're spending less time investing in new deals and more time focusing on the start-ups they've already made big bets on and coaching companies to conserve cash.

"VCs have to be very careful and realistic, and entrepreneurs have to understand that getting that next round of financing is not automatic," said Mark G. Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association.

*Bank loans have been harder to come by, but that doesn't mean companies' need for funding has dried up. To get cash, small and medium-size businesses have increasingly turned to firms that get them money they are owed more quickly.

The firms, known as factoring companies , say they are seeing an uptick in the quantity and caliber of businesses coming to them for funding. Traditionally used as a kind of short-term cash bridge, factoring has been avoided by some businesses in the past because it can cost more than traditional bank financing. But these days more firms that need funding -- ones that are growing quickly, are working out financial difficulties or have no assets to borrow against -- are selling their bills to factoring companies.

*The Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Ashburn, one of the first microbreweries in the Washington area, is packing up and moving to Delaware. The change is a result of the slumping economy, as Coastal Brewing Co., which bought Old Dominion last year, looks to consolidate operations at its plant in Dover, Del.

*ICO Global Communications has been waiting four years for victory. Last week, the Reston-based satellite company got it. A California jury decided Boeing must pay at least $370 million for breaching a contract to build and launch satellites for ICO. After a four-week trial, Los Angeles jurors sided with ICO's argument that Boeing unfairly demanded additional money to complete and launch the satellites, which ICO ordered to supply Internet connections to cellphones and other mobile devices.

*Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said Friday that its top Washington lobbyist is retiring in the spring. Brian D. Dailey, 57, who has served as the defense giant's senior vice president of Washington operations for the past decade, will step down April 1. He will be replaced by Gregory R. Dahlberg, 57, currently vice president of corporate legislative affairs.

*Hanover-based Frank Parsons Inc. this month cleared off part of one of its truck panels to place an ad. The company wants to expand beyond Xerox and bring on a host of new advertisers to adorn its fleet. E. Wayne Romero, executive vice president of strategic planning and organizational development, says the company's 50 trucks run regular routes through he streets of Baltimore and Washington, and that Parsons Outdoor could offer a lot of exposure in peak daytime traffic hours.

By Terri Rupar  |  October 27, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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