The first Topgolf in the United States could be replaced with a couple hundred townhomes under a proposed amendment to Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors first authorized a plan amendment review for the roughly 17.4-acre Kingstowne site, fronting South Van Dorn Street, in October 2015. Nearly four years later, staff is back with a recommendation to change the long-range land-use guide to allow for up to 12 units per acre plus 20,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail.
The property owner filed an application in early 2018 to redevelop the site, currently home to Topgolf Alexandria, with 74 townhomes, 164 multifamily stacked units and a 20,000-square-foot commercial building. That proposal was later reduced to 212 townhomes plus a modicum of retail and some area of “developed recreation.” At 12 units per acre, the owner (an LLC tied to a Leesburg single-family address) would be allowed roughly 209 units.
In just a few years, Washington, DC’s latest hub for fine dining, entertainment and waterfront views will become more robust with the addition of luxury hotel Pendry Washington D.C. – The Wharf.
The boutique hospitality brand has locations in San Diego, Baltimore and New York, with four other projects set for completion by 2022, including the 140,000-square-foot hotel in the District. According to co-founder and creative director of Pendry, Michael Fuerstman, Washington seemed like “the perfect fit to make a statement.”
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Inspired by the light, space and proximity to the water, the new building is meant to attract both visitors from across the world through its 131 guest rooms, including 35 suites, as well as locals with more than 5,000 square feet of meeting and event space available inside, outside and on the roof deck.
Other features of the site include a spa and fitness center, a rooftop lounge, bar and pool, two culinary concepts that are still being finalized and an indoor cocktail parlor.
“People will stay at Pendry at The Wharf because it will be an experience at every turn,” says Fuerstman.
The District Wharf is currently in its second phase of construction, set to be fully complete in 2022, bringing more hotels such as Pendry, apartment buildings, retail and restaurants to the neighborhood in a total of 1.25 million-square-feet of space.
While an exact date of completion for Pendry has yet to be announced, construction began this summer and we will update Northern Virginia and Washington residents closer to the start of 2022.
Philip Salter is founder of The Entrepreneurs Network.
As Home Secretary and Prime Minister, Theresa May made immigration a big deal. Some of that was driven by public opinion, but paradoxically it felt like the tougher the government claimed to be getting, the more people felt it wasn’t being tackled. Talking heads kept claiming that the problem was that nobody was talking about immigration, but talked of little else.
The referendum result and Windrush scandal changed this. Even before the end of free movement, the claim to ‘take back control’ seems to have eased concerns. Meanwhile, the Windrush scandal stirred in the British public a patriotic and empathetic defence of British subjects. We’ve seen a sea change: in 2011, 64 per cent of Britons told Ipsos-Mori immigration had been bad for the UK, in 2019 this has dropped to 26 per cent. Britain is now one of the most positive countries about immigration – alongside the likes of Australia, the US and Sweden.
May scrapped the Post-Study Work visa as an overreaction to bogus colleges. It’s a shame that her victory in shutting them down morphed into a campaign against international students.
Yesterday’s decision by Boris Johnson to bring back the Post-Study Work visa is not just driven by concerns about popularity. Unlike Cameron and May, Boris has refused to get into the numbers game. And when Mayor of London, he called for the introduction of a ‘London visa’ in a bid to attract talent from around the world.
May’s experience of the Home Office was a deviation from the trend towards growing openness and a global battle for talent. As Stian Westlake argues, it went on to dominate her premiership and her economic thinking: ‘I’d argue that the main reason for the demise of Tory economic thinking is cultural and institutional. To be precise, it comes from the culture of one institution, the Home Office. The PM and many of her closest advisers spent many years working for the Home Office and are steeped in its particular culture and world-view.’
The Prime Minister’s brother deserves credit for this policy. Jo Johnson pushed hard for the return of the Post-Study Work visa for a while, working with Labour’s Paul Blomfield and others across the aisle. This will be a huge relief for our universities. Post-Brexit we will need to play to our exporting strengths, and the university sector will be critical in supporting the ambitions of of a global Britain.
The option to stay on to gain work experience is a significant pull factor for the best and brightest. It also gives those who want to stay after the two years the time to make the connections to meet the criteria to stay.
This is also good for entrepreneurship. When we surveyed international students in 2015, we found that 42 per cent intended to start up their own business following graduation. Immigrants are more entrepreneurial than the native population, but they need time to build networks before making the leap.
In the US, more than half of all foreign-born founders of high-growth technology and engineering companies moved to the US initially to study. In many cases, they needed time to settle down, build contacts, and identify an opportunity for disruption. We recently revealed that 49 per cent of the UK’s fastest-growing startups have at least one foreign-born founder, despite 14 per cent of UK residents being foreign-born. As in the US, many of the entrepreneurs came to the UK to study, stayed to work, and serendipitously ended up starting a business.
Boris has shown leadership in reinstating the Post-Study Work visa. The British public is unperturbed. In fact, they weren’t ever really concerned about students. As Bright Blue showed: “The most popular type of immigrant for Conservatives is an international student: 87 per cent of Conservatives would admit a Chinese student who wants to pay to come and study for three years at a UK university.”
What is Corbynomics? It goes without saying that it’s a much more extreme economic programme than Labour have ever had before. And that government will spend, tax and borrow more. But Labour have a lot more damaging, half-baked and dangerous ideas.
No-one is thinking about them at the moment, but the scary thing is that within weeks these ideas could be affecting your house, your pension and your job.
For me, the most frustrating thing is that Labour have identified various important issues, but their proposed “solutions” would make matters worse. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Seizing 10 per cent of all large companies’ shares
Lots of people, including me, worry that current corporate structures create pressures that make managers behave in a short-termist way, squeezing investment to hit short term profit targets and dragging down productivity growth. I’m concerned that publicly quoted firms are beholden to increasingly transient shareholders, interested in immediate returns. They certainly invest far less than privately owned firms who can take a longer-term view.
But my answer to this would be to change the tax treatment of investment, and increase capital allowances so that there’s no disincentive to invest.
Labour’s answer, in contrast, is to forcibly transfer 10 per cent of all companies shares to create a sort of employee-ownership-at-gunpoint.
This is a terrible idea, which would make investment into the UK dry up overnight. After all, if government can steal ten per cent of your shares, what’s to stop them coming back for the rest? Labour protest that the shares are not being stolen – just given to the workers. But that’s a lie, as they also propose that a Labour-run Treasury would take the great majority of the dividends that those shares attract. At the moment, these are owned by savings and pension funds – so the money is ultimately coming out of your pocket.
The total value of the shares stolen by government would be around £300 billion, according to the Financial Times. For comparison, raising the basic rate of tax by one per cent raises £4.5 billion a year, so you can see what a vast tax grab this would be.
Forcing people to sell their properties at a price set by government, and control rents
There are major issues about the balance of rented and owner-occupied property in Britain. We had a long period when the number of properties being moved into the rent-to-buy sector was outstripping the number built, meaning owner occupation fell dramatically. Between 1996 and 2016, the home ownership rate among middle income people aged 25-34 fell from 65 per cent to 27 per cent.
However, in 2015 the Conservative Government reformed the tax treatment of rent to buy and second homes, and in the years since we have seen homeownership rebounding upwards, with both ownership and the rented sector growing in a more balanced way. There are lots more things we could do to grow home ownership.
Corbynista Labour doesn’t really believe in home ownership. They are nostalgic for the world of the 1970s, where around two thirds of households in places like Islington lived in social housing. But they know ownership is popular.
So they have announced the “private sector right to buy”. This will give private tenants the right to make their landlords sell their properties to them at a discount.
In an interview last week, John McDonnell made it clear that government would set the price: “You’d want to establish what is a reasonable price, you can establish that and then that becomes the right to buy,” he said. “You (the government) set the criteria. I don’t think it’s complicated.”
It’s not complicated. But it is deeply unfair. It would be a retrospective raid on people’s assets. People, including some who are not so rich, have invested in property under certain rules, and would have their savings ripped off them, while other people who invested their money in other things would not. This is arbitrary and unreasonable and would I’m sure be challenged in the courts.
Labour would also set rental prices, promising in a recent document that “There should be a cap on annual permissible rent increases, at no more than the rate of wage inflation or consumer price inflation (whichever is lower).”
This is unworkable or will lead to under investment in rented properties. Why spend lots doing up a flat if you can’t charge more for an improved property? We would quickly be heading back to the 1970s, when there wasn’t enough rented accommodation to go round, and conditions were squalid because of rent controls.
Sectoral wage bargaining
With the National Living Wage, the Conservatives have introduced one of the highest minimum wages in the world. For the lowest paid, the National Living Wage plus the cuts in taxes for lower paid people mean that they take home £4,500 more than they did under the last Labour Government – while employment has soared to a record high. We should be really proud of our record.
However, the National Living Wage is still set by an independent body, and as percentage of average pay in the market, so there is a sensible link to what businesses can afford without sacking people.
In contrast, under Labour politicians would just set rates directly. Labour have also pledged to “roll out sectoral collective bargaining”. Labour said it would “fix the going rate” in each industry and “set fair conditions” for the sector. This would represent an end to the system whereby unions negotiate company by company and, instead, give them power effectively to set national standards on pay and conditions. A new government unit would work with unions to bring firms into line.
This means that if politicians or trade unions decide your business is part of a particular “sector” (a pretty subjective question) then you would be in line for a change in wages which your business might simply be unable to afford. The scope for union bullying and endless court cases and demarcation disputes is obvious. In the car industry, wages are high, so a sectoral wage would be high. If I make plastic bits for the car industry but also other industries, is my business in or out of the automotive sector?
Rebecca Long Bailey has also said that “Labour will also legislate to reduce pay inequality by introducing an Excessive Pay Levy on companies with staff on very high pay.” There is no detail on what the rules will be, but the idea of having wages directly controlled by Jeremy Corbyn is likely to deter inward investment.
What do these ideas have in common?
When New Labour left office, a million people had been thrown on the dole, we’d had the deepest recession since the second world war and government was borrowing more than at any time in our whole peacetime history. In the final year alone, they borrowed £7,900 for every family in Britain.
And that was New Labour. Imaging what the country would look like after Corbyn and McDonnell.
Where Corbyn’s ideas really differ from previous Labour leaders is that he doesn’t really believe in the rule of law. Your house, your business, your savings: all these things don’t really belong to you, in Corbyn’s eyes: you have them only as long as the government suffers you to have them, and they can be retrospectively taken away if he sees fit. In the week Robert Mugabe died, we’ve seen underlined just how important the rule of law is. But under Corbynomics, it would be the first casualty.
On Tuesday, Walmart made major announcements propelled by recent mass shootings — one of which occurred at the chain’s El Paso location (here, here, and here).
Following that tragedy — which took 22 lives — the retail giant will no longer sell handgun or short-barrel rifle ammo. In Alaska, it’ll discontinue its last remnant of handgun sales.
What’s more: America’s most ubiquitous discounter is asking its customers to no longer use their open-carry privilege in-store (here).
Why? Because the employment of such rights has “frightened or concerned [their] associates and customers.”
Well, the NRA has a few words about the ‘Mart’s moves.
From a press release:
“It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites. Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms.”
As per Tuesday’s announcements, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon believes he’s fighting for a better world:
“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable. We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates.”
Are most Walmart shoppers — in states where open carry is legal — really scared by the presence of legally-owned firearms — particularly given the fact that 22 unarmed individuals were just slaughtered at a similar store by a bad guy with a gun?
Or is Doug tone deaf?
The NRA thinks Walmart’s ignoring the most direct cause of crime — the criminal:
“Rather than place the blame on the criminal, Walmart has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans. Our leaders must be willing to approach the problems of crime, violence and mental health with sincerity and honesty.”
Not only did Walmart make its own changes known; it also trumpeted change from Capitol Hill — it wants Congress to legislate gun control:
“We encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.”
Doug did, however, also reference social or other types of causes:
“We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior. Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on these common sense measures.”
As for Walmart’s direction, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising; when NASCAR takes a liberal turn, all bets are off:
"It is shameful to see @Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites. Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms."
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Regardless, this new scoop is a clean hit on Scaramucci’s motives, assuming everything in it is accurate. Mooch claimed in his op-ed for WaPo earlier this week that “the final straw” for him in breaking with Trump was POTUS’s “go back where you came from” attack on the Squad on Twitter. It’s true that Scaramucci criticized Trump for that afterward, even earning himself a disinvitation from a GOP fundraiser in Florida for doing so.
But Trump’s tweets about the Squad happened on July 14. According to the Examiner, Scaramucci was hosting Donald Trump Jr as the guest of honor at a promotional dinner for his business on … July 30. If Mooch could no longer in good conscience support the president, what was he doing leveraging his Trump connections to make a buck weeks later?
The dinner at the Scaramucci co-owned Hunt & Fish Club near Times Square happened July 30. The financier, fired after 11 days at the White House in 2017, invited Trump Jr. to be the guest of honor at a monthly gathering for another business he co-owns, Strategic Worldviews, launched this year with partner Robert Wolf, an Obama administration adviser…
“Mooch was nothing but deferential … It’s just weird, what in two weeks changed?” said another source.
Scaramucci said to Trump Jr. that “we should put together a couple fundraisers” for the 2020 Trump reelection campaign, according to a third source. He declined to comment through a spokeswoman, including on the claim that he offered to host fundraisers for Trump’s reelection…
“You don’t go from offering to host fundraisers to ‘this guy has gotta go’ in 10 days. Not if you’re sincere,” they said.
Politico didn’t provide details in its story but it too has heard of recent chumminess between Scaramucci and Trump Jr: “As recently as two weeks ago, one person close to the White House said, Scaramucci was with Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and a few other people and talking about fundraisers he was planning to set up for the reelection campaign.” If that’s accurate it makes the timeline even more suspicious. Two weeks ago was August 7; Scaramucci’s apparent final break with Trump came in the days immediately following that, when he criticized his goodwill visits to El Paso and Dayton as a “catastrophe.” If you believe Politico, Mooch went from fundraiser mode to essentially off the Trump train in the span of 72 hours or so.
What the hell happened? Did he and Don Jr have a falling out? Did Scaramucci sincerely have some crisis of conscience that made him turn a dime? Because, superficially, he doesn’t strike me as a “crisis of conscience” kind of guy.
Maybe it’s a pride thing. This was Trump’s first shot at Scaramucci in all of this, I believe. Note the date:
…..other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence. Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!
Mooch might have thought Trump would tolerate his occasional jabs over El Paso and the Squad so long as he remained on the team and committed to working for Trump’s reelection. But then Trump surprised him by slapping him on Twitter, forcing Scaramucci to either fight or bow and scrape. His pride wounded, he chose to fight and has since gone all-in on punching back as the feud has escalated.
Although there are other theories, of course. Again, Politico:
Some whisper that Scaramucci may be doing this as a publicity stunt to keep himself in the news to get his wife, Deidre, a slot on “The Real Housewives of New York City.” She said on the couple’s joint podcast, “Mooch and the Mrs,” in June: “I can’t get into too much detail, but I’d love to do the show if they really wanted me to do the show. But right now we’re just sitting here, waiting, and I’ll let you guys know.”
Others speculate that Scaramucci, a wealthy entrepreneur who sometimes visits the Hamptons in the summer, might be doing this is to ingratiate himself back into New York society circles.
Self-promotion is always the Occam’s Razor explanation for behavior in TrumpWorld, I think. One mystery in all this, though: Why hasn’t Don Jr called Scaramucci out about the dinner he attended last month? A search of Twitter reveals nothing recent about “Scaramucci” or “Mooch” in Trump Jr’s Twitter account. You’d expect Don to have said something like, “Mooch begged me to promote this business a few weeks ago, and I graciously agreed. So much for him having a moral problem with the Trumps!” But he hasn’t done that. Why not?
Arlington native Chris Nassetta checked his phone as he got off his boat after a 2007 Fourth of July outing with his daughters on the Chesapeake Bay. As he read the email—a private equity firm had purchased a hotel chain—he had a feeling the news was going to affect not just his job, but his life.
Turned out, he was right. Nassetta and his family—six daughters and his wife—would find themselves moving from Northern Virginia to the fabled luxury confines of Bel Air, home of Beyoncé, Jay Z, Elon Musk, Jennifer Aniston and other celebrities.
And then, just two years later, back again. But this time he’d have more than his six daughters in tow. He would be bringing Hilton with him.
In the early part of the 21st century, after nearly 100 years in business, the management of Beverly Hills-based hospitality giant Hilton Hotels Corporation was slumbering on plush mattresses, with the blackout curtains drawn, its corporate structure content to while away the days in ossifying silos.
The company that pioneered the rewards point system, in-room air conditioning and direct-dial telephones was doing little to innovate, and losing business while doing so.
Meanwhile, travelers, particularly the new breed of efficiency-minded millennial wanderers, regarded the brand the way they looked at Granddad’s Cadillac: Aspirational luxury, but, meh, needlessly expensive and oh look, over here’s a designed-to-death boutique hotel with free Wi-Fi.
The hotel chain founded by Conrad Hilton in Cisco, Texas, in 1919, was in a dangerous financial spiral that had an unintended upside: The moribund spreadsheets made it a deliciously ripe target for a private equity takeover, in an industry that didn’t ordinarily draw much attention from private equity investors. The accountants at Wall Street’s Blackstone Group saw undeveloped potential, despite guests flocking to competitors.
On July 3, 2007, Blackstone cut what was then the biggest private equity check ever—$6.5 billion—toward the $26 billion purchase of the Hilton holdings—3,700 hotels, 600,000 rooms and debt, lots and lots of debt.
Nassetta, a trim and tanned 56-year-old, grew up with two brothers sharing a bedroom in a North Arlington center-hall colonial; he’s a graduate of Yorktown High School and University of Virginia, and in 2007, at the time of the Hilton sale, was the chief executive officer of Host Hotels & Resorts. It was he who turned the Bethesda-based real estate investment trust into a Fortune 500 and Standard & Poor’s 500 property, which did not go unnoticed by Blackstone.
Nassetta’s intuition that Fourth of July day proved accurate when Blackstone asked him to take over Hilton as president and CEO. Jonathan Gray, now president and COO of Blackstone, wooed Nassetta by telling him he had “been training your whole life for this position,” Nassetta says.
Which seemed to be true. Fresh out of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1984, the computer-literate 20-something “made a pitch to [real estate developer] Oliver Carr that I was on the cutting-edge of financial analysis and can do it faster and better because of these new tools called ‘computers’ and you should hire me and I can organize [the business] for you.” Not only did he get the job, but “I accelerated very rapidly,” he says. He wound up as chief development officer and helped right the Carr ship during the savings and loan crisis of the late ’80s.
The Carr firm would be sold to Blackstone for $5.6 billion in 2006, but long before then, Nassetta and partner Terry Golden took the plunge and started their own private equity firm, Bailey Capital Corporation, in 1991. It was the same year, in May, he married his high school prom date, Paige, daughter of former Arkansas congressman Ed Bethune. A few years later, Nassetta, looking for another professional challenge, joined Host in 1995.
“Every experience I’ve had is extraordinary,” he says, seated in his 11th-story corner Park Place II office high above Tysons. “The learning experience I had at Carr, I couldn’t replace. Starting your own successful business at an early age was completely different. Then going to a public company [Host] and rebuilding it, that was extraordinary.”
Training for the Hilton job, it would seem, was complete. Nassetta would be Hilton’s fourth CEO in its history.
There was just one problem, and that was Hilton.
To fix Hilton, to restore the storied company to its glory, would require hands-on management, and Nassetta, it was decided, would have to move to Beverly Hills.
“I wasn’t interested in moving six girls—one of them going into preschool and one of them starting high school—and I had a really good gig going with Host Hotels. I had a lot of pride in what we accomplished,” Nassetta says. “I wasn’t looking to do anything different professionally.”
With the deal on the table, it was his wife Paige, Nassetta says, who made the final decision. “She’s an equal partner,” he says. “If she had said thumbs down, then we weren’t doing it.”
It was Paige who surmised Nassetta would be happier with a larger, newer challenge. “She said, ‘You’re always looking for intellectual stimulation, something else to fix,’” he says. “She was instrumental in helping me realize I love to take things that don’t work and try to make them work.”
But moving six daughters to Hollywood?
“If it was going to be really detrimental to the family, we wouldn’t have done it,” he says. “I was born and raised here, my parents still live in the house I grew up in a mile away, my two sisters are neighbors. We had this super-comfortable cocoon.”
In the end, it was Paige who said to load up the truck and move to Beverly. Hills that is … (It was Paige who joked about them being the “Beverly Hillbillies.”) And it was Bailey, then 14 and the oldest daughter, who eventually rallied the reluctant others.
“And you know what?” Nassetta says, brightening at the thought. “It ended up being the most spectacular experience for our family you can imagine. Getting out of the cocoon, all the support we’d built for a lifetime—poof, it was gone. The entire ecosystem, gone.”
For the first time, the Nassetta clan had to depend solely on each other for support. “The kids got stronger,” he says. “We, as a family unit, became incredibly tight because we needed each other.”
While Paige and the kids settled into their new lives, Nassetta was intensely focused on saving Blackstone’s massive and controversial acquisition of Hilton.
“They invented the business as you know it,” Nassetta says. “And they had been king of the hill. But you become complacent … The company was not performing the way it could in part because what had once been a very dynamic, entrepreneurial culture had lost its way. It was not my intention to move the company, but to rebuild it.”
To his horror, Nassetta discovered Hilton operating like “eight or nine companies all over the world running themselves. What we found was that the culture was a wreck … The culture had lost its way.”
Part of the problem, it was determined, was the location of the headquarters. Relocating and consolidating redundancies might wake up the slumbering giant. But Hilton couldn’t do a headline-generating search for a new home the way Amazon tantalized municipalities in its search for HQ2, half of which ended up in Arlington.
“You have to understand the sensitivity,” he says. “We had to run the company.” A six-month national search by management consultants settled on metropolitan locations that scored high on a complex matrix of pluses and minuses. The last ones standing were Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Northern Virginia.
The joke was the CEO and president of the company was homesick and saw a chance to get back to his hometown. “No, no, that’s not the case,” Nassetta says. “I didn’t put my thumb on the scale.”
It had been two years since the Nassettas had moved. And now they were moving back. Or were they?
When he broke the news to Paige before the Los Angeles press announced the relocation of a flagship corporation, Nassetta was taken aback.
“She had this solemn look,” he recalls. “She said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but we can’t do this.’ I’m thinking, I’m the hero, we’re going home to friends and family, and my wife says we have to stay. I didn’t see that coming.”
Bailey was now going on 17 and learning to drive (on Sunset Boulevard, a “harrowing experience,” her dad says), going to high school with celebrity offspring and swimming competitively. She did not take the news well. Bailey rallying the troops this time would be off the table.
Bicoastal commuting was a non-starter for Nassetta (“No way. We’re a family. We work as a family.”). It didn’t look good as Nassetta left for a weeklong business trip as the news hit the papers and the airwaves that Hilton was moving to Tysons.
But by the time he returned, Paige had had a change of heart. “We came here together, we’re going home together,” Nassetta recalls her saying.
Moving back was harder than moving out, he says. “You have an expectation you are going to pop right back into the ecosystem”—the cocoon—“but you find out the whole system is different. In two years of a kids’ life, everything had changed.”
That was 10 years ago. Bailey is now 26, Mason is 24, Kirby is 22, Sydney is 20, Peyton is 18 and Avery is 15. (Is it any wonder the name of his boat is Another Girl?)
In Northern Virginia, the Nassettas are active in a number of local nonprofits, including the Arlington Free Clinic, which provides health services to some 1,600 low-income, uninsured residents.
“His mother may have been here the first night it opened,” says Nancy White, president of the 25-year-old clinic. “She still comes each week and gives us the gift of her time … His family has always been here for us.”
One of Nassetta’s sisters provides the clinic with photography services, according to White. And Nassetta, White says, has Hilton donate a five-day vacation to anywhere in the world they have a hotel as a raffle prize, “which is an important way for us to generate funds.” He also hosts benefit parties at his home, and is generous with his time and expertise.
“I can pick up the phone and ask for advice and he’ll connect me to someone who can help in support of our mission,” White says.
Nassetta also works with Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among other organizations.
As for Hilton Worldwide Holdings, the move to Tysons seems to have been a masterstroke.
“We’re outperforming everybody in the industry,” he says. “We’re opening more than a hotel a day somewhere in the world. We have the largest share of the business, we’re growing faster, innovating more and the fun thing about it is, we’re celebrating 100 years of history, and most companies don’t get to celebrate that. We get to celebrate it, literally, at the top of our game.”
A private company that just a dozen years ago was suffering from a declining culture is now a public company at No. 345 in the Fortune 500 list. Last year, it opened 459 new properties, bringing the total to more than 5,700.
Hilton is No. 1 on the Fortune “Best Companies to Work For” list for 2019, from 33rd a year ago. It’s the first hospitality company in history to reach No. 1. As for Blackstone, which exited Hilton after 11 years, the investment is regarded as “the most profitable private equity deal” ever, according to Bloomberg, with a cumulative profit of $14 billion.
Nassetta puts the credit on the people who work for the company, not the suits in the C-suites. “It’s not just about making money. The purpose is to make the world a better place, creating opportunities for our team members to have a better life, creating opportunities for our communities to be stronger because of our involvement.
“The thing I will be most proud of is this,” Nassetta says of the No. 1 ranking. “Nothing will eclipse it. It’s representative of what I stand for.”
This post was originally published in our August 2019 issue. To read more about NoVA notables making a difference in the community, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Andy Street is Mayor of the West Midlands, and is a former Managing Director of John Lewis.
When the Prime Minister gave his first speech at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum on July 27, he spoke of the “basic ingredients of success for the UK”.
He spoke about culture, liveability, responsibility in power and accountability – but the subject that resonated most with the experiences of the West Midlands was his belief in the power of connections.
He said: “Inspiration and innovation, cross fertilisation between people, literally and figuratively, cannot take place unless people can bump into each other, compete, collaborate, invent and innovate.”
The West Midlands provides a case study for the UK in how connectivity can transform an area by linking its communities, its geography, its businesses and its people. In the UK’s most diverse region, this commitment to connection is a key part of the new Urban Conservatism we are building here, which is winning support.
In a region spread across the seven boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, connectedness has been vital in building a sense of unity. Most obviously, huge investment in our transport network is allowing our communities to physically meet.
But as the Prime Minister said, connectedness isn’t just about tramlines and buses, it’s about encouraging the sharing of ideas to drive growth – and it’s as old as the hills.
Successful city states – going back to the Italian Renaissance and beyond – flourish by bringing people together to drive social and economic progress through greater understanding and innovation. The lesson of history is that places that unite different cultures to distil their ideas and harness their ambition are successful, be it 18th century London or 20th century New York.
Here, that ambition means connecting an increasing number of economic hotspots. From the cluster around the NEC known as ‘UK Central’ to the massive Phoenix 10 brownfield reclamation scheme in the Black Country, the resurgent economy in the West Midlands is creating jobs that require connectivity. Investment in public transport is building an arterial network taking people – and their ideas– into these centres of opportunity.
But the real lesson of the West Midlands story is how we are learning to connect people, not places. The Mayor’s Community Weekend, for example, brought tens of thousands of people together over 165 events through a partnership between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the National Lottery Community Fund. A hundred workplaces joined in with the Mayor’s Giving Day, encouraging charity in all forms. My Faith Action Plan brings together different faiths. We are even connecting the generations through my Cricket Cup at Edgbaston on September 8, which will see grandparents and grandchildren take the field together.
In such a diverse place, these soft social initiatives solidify to bind the connections we make, simply by getting involved. The alternative to connectedness is isolation, which breeds intolerance. It’s critical to stand against intolerance of any kind, whether it’s racial, religious or the kind of schools protest against equality teaching we have seen in Birmingham.
We are also making great strides in closing divisions in our communities to improve social mobility. In 2007, 20% of our young people left school with no qualifications, a figure that has been brought down to 11% through retraining in areas like digital and construction, and growth in modern apprenticeships.
That’s being helped by a unique feature in the West Midlands – the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme, which allows us to spend the unused apprenticeship levy paid by big firms more sensibly. Closing skills gaps like this is another way that we promote connectedness across and within our communities.
Connectivity in a more literal sense can be achieved through technology. I was encouraged by the PM’s commitment in his candidacy to speed up the roll-out of Fibre Broadband across the country. This kind of quick expansion is vital if we are to ensure that no areas are left disconnected from digital opportunities through under-investment.
However, with 5G coming first to our region, we aren’t prepared to wait for connections to spark innovation. Just a few weeks ago a ground-breaking trial here hinted at what can be achieved with 5G, when we linked local ambulances to doctors in A&E in real-time. The same technological connectivity is driving our automotive sector in its ambition to become the UK capital of driverless vehicles.
Sitting as we do at the heart of England, the West Midlands is positioned to benefit from the Prime Minister’s ambition to better connect the nation and rebalance the economy. As the PM said, “We need to literally and spiritually unite Britain, and that means boosting growth and bringing our regions together.”
To me, there is no greater instrument for this ambition than HS2 – the single piece of investment that will unlock millions of pounds of transport and housing infrastructure our region desperately needs.
Sites like the new tram line from East Birmingham to Solihull are indelibly linked to HS2. We have a target to ensure local people are never more than 45 minutes from a HS2 station, and schemes such as reopening closed railway lines and the impressive Sutton Coldfield Gateway have been meticulously planned around this major investment by the Government to sew our country together. Without it we are definitely poorer.
Connections need to be international too. As Michael Heseltine pointed out in this report ‘Empowering English Cities’, which was commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the underperformance of our major cities on the world stage is a critical problem that must be solved if we are to balance our economy.
However, this does not mean adopting an adversarial position to competing city regions like Rotterdam, Lyon, Frankfurt, Milan, Chicago and Sapporo, it means ensuring that we have the global connections to take in the best ideas and turn them to our own advantage.
This crucible of cultures concept is the very purpose of the civic university, and you will not find a better example than Chamberlain’s University of Birmingham – which is why our universities must, post-Brexit, continue to welcome International students. They literally connect us to the world and the ideas developing beyond our shores.
Travel opportunities are also important in nurturing our global position. Birmingham Airport has its sights set beyond the Brexit horizon with continued growth in passenger numbers. Work is due to start on its T18 project – named because it will create a terminal that can handle 18 million passengers a year, a rise of nearly 40% on the previous record, achieved in 2017.
HS2 makes this project even more important, as the airport will only be 38 minutes away from Euston, much quicker to get to from North London than both Heathrow and Gatwick.
Finally, I consider my own role as Mayor of the West Midlands to be one of connectivity. Overseeing a region where Labour control the majority of local authorities has meant that my job has often been about providing the glue that holds us all together, encouraging teamwork. In the UK’s youngest, most diverse area, this Urban Conservative approach is paying dividends politically as we attempt to make more of our constituent authorities Conservative.
This kind of inclusive Conservative leadership is where the party must be – and we are looking to Prime Minister Johnson, as the former Mayor of Britain’s mega city, to understand this and follow it through in Government. The Prime Minister will know what a Conservative Mayor in an urban region can achieve through physically connecting people – whether it’s through social connections, transport connections or digital connections – and I hope he will be considering how we can replicate this across the country.
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Daniel Rossall-Valentine is Head of Campaign for This is Engineering at the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Deputy Chairman of Sevenoaks Conservative Association. He writes in a personal capacity.
“It’s the same formula: it is education, infrastructure and technology —those three things”, so said Boris Johnson in June when interviewed by the Evening Standard about his agenda for government. According to Boris, those are the three principles which informed his time as Mayor of London and will be his priorities as Prime Minister.
These priorities are very welcome because they recognise the essential connections between three vital elements of wealth generation, and represent a more sophisticated view of economic growth than the one-dimensional and idealistic catchphrase of “education, education, education” which prevailed under a previous government.
The UK is involved in a long running battle to raise its productivity. We have long needed a better vision of what we need to do to boost productivity and I believe that this vision is now being developed.
Engineers and technicians must be at the heart of this new vision. Engineers are essential for innovation, they design, build and improve technology and have become central to national productivity, economic growth and living standards. Engineers are the people who turn scientific principles into practical application, social benefit and economic value. Our world is being unified in a new way; by a series of threats that know no borders. We face big challenges, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, malnutrition, biodiversity loss, cyber-terrorism and global warming, and technology is central to building solutions for each of these and making our world work better for everyone.
In truth, technology is not a sector anymore; it is now the driver of productivity and economic success (and indeed survival) for organisations in every sector. The analytical and design skills of engineers have become more and more valuable as the rate of technological change accelerates. No sector of the economy is now protected from the forces of technological change; healthcare, agriculture, retail, and education are just four examples of sectors which are currently experiencing rapid technological change; change that offers significant improvements in productivity and benefits for users.
Growing our domestic tech capacity offers great benefits to the UK. Tech firms have shown that they can scale very rapidly. The rise of “tech unicorns” (recent startups valued at over $1 billion) demonstrates the economic and social potential offered by tech. Engineering has been proven to be a very effective multiplier of economic growth. The UK should not be modest about its future in tech because we have significant advantages, including a trusted legal regime, access to capital and credit, access to support services, unparalleled access to tech customers, an educated workforce, world class universities, stable taxation and intelligent regulation.
However, the UK has one great and persisting tech weakness which threatens to impede our growth, and that is an inadequate number of engineers and technicians. The UK needs to grow its pool of engineering talent, to ensure that UK-based tech companies can remain in the UK as they scale rapidly, and to enable engineering companies to win big projects. If the UK doesn’t expand its pool of engineering talent we risk losing tech firms, tech projects and tech investment and the huge economic and social value that they bring. The proportion of jobs that require technical skill is growing and Britain should aspire to a growing share of this growing pie.
Young people are avid consumers of technology, but we need more of them to aspire to mastering the engineering that underpins the technology so that they can become developers, makers and creators of technology, rather than mere users. We also need more young people who combine engineering skills with the entrepreneurial and managerial skills that will enable them to form and scale business enterprises; so that the UK can capture an increasing share of lucrative engineering value-chains; and provide the GDP and employment that flow from end-to-end technology development. Increasingly people who are not tech-savvy are at risk of being automated out of a job, so the need for upskilling the UK in technical skills is pressing.
This technical skills shortage has long been recognised and a multitude of projects have been started to encourage young people to consider engineering. And yet despite the number of initiatives, the shortfall of talent has not only persisted but seems to have grown larger over the last decade. We also need to diversify our talent pool and ensure we are attracting young people from all backgrounds; because only a diverse profession guarantees the diversity of ideas that technical fields rely on.
The UK has made good progress in raising the profile of engineering in the last few years. The Industrial Strategy and Grand Challenges of 2017 were very welcome developments at putting technology centre-stage. The Year Of Engineering 2018 led to a very significant change in the perception of engineering amongst school pupils. This year-long Government campaign also encouraged greater collaboration between the many professional engineering institutions that make up the UK’s complex engineering landscape. We can be optimistic that the UK has got into the good habit of paying far more recognition to the engineers and entrepreneurs who enable, create and democratise the technology which improves lives, saves time and generates wealth.
Too often we allow our natural British reserve about talking about wealth to prevent us talking about wealth creation. Social benefit and commercial success are too often portrayed as trade-offs, when they are mutually reinforcing; the best technology delivers for investors as well as society-at-large. Technological success is a stool with three legs; technical progress, commercial success and social benefit. Technology is more than technology: technology is inherently social, and inherently financial, and we need more technologists who look at the full picture rather than the purely technical aspects of technology. Without profit, technology is the greatest creator of loss and debt known to mankind, and without social benefit technology can be a force of social division, rather than a democratising force.
To maximise the benefits of technology we need to close the technology skills gap, and this requires action by many players. We cannot rely on Government alone to solve this persistent problem. We know that too few young people are studying engineering related degrees and apprenticeships. One major factor is the image of engineering. Unfortunately, a number of unappealing stereotypes have become attached to the profession of engineering. Many young people assume that engineering involves hard, manual work, and male-dominated workplaces. Too many young people also believe that engineering is a narrow specialism that offers only a limited range of job opportunities. The problem is particularly acute with female students. Inspiring more girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers will not only help us to address the skills gap in science and technology, but it will also help us to create a more diverse workforce that truly represents the world we live in.
The UK has a great tradition of innovation and enterprise but only by unlocking the interest of our young people by presenting a positive vision of business enterprise and technology can we continue to succeed in this increasingly competitive field. One recent example of success is the This is Engineering campaign which was developed by a number of the UK’s leading technology companies and launched in January 2018. The campaign presents young people with positive, modern, authentic images of careers in technology and engineering, through the medium of short films which are available on many social media platforms. The films also highlight the societal benefits that new technology delivers, the team-work that technology and engineering projects rely on, and the creativity that is required at every stage in the design and build process.
By helping to promote careers in technology and engineering we can ensure that more and more young people see technology not just as a range of products to be consumed but also as a range of careers to be considered.