U.S. Sen. Mark Warner celebrated startups with about 30 entrepreneurs at UberOffices in Rosslyn just before the holiday weekend.
"This is the core of Washington, in terms of startups," he told the group. Warner specifically mentioned the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor along the Orange Line, though a staff member later told Patch that the senator meant to speak more broadly about the Silver Line corridor.
Still, given the nature of tech entrepreneurs, who tend to be young, smart and hip, "What you want is somewhere that's cool to work, cool to live — and Arlington does a very good job of that," he said.
Warner, D-Va., is a former venture capitalist who built his fortune as an early investor in the cell phone industry, including the company that would become Nextel.
He said when he was first getting involved in wireless ventures in the early 1980s, Northern Virginia was primarily home to people in government, banking and real estate.
While some of the players have changed, though, proximity is still of value — particularly for companies that want to be as close to DC as they can be without actually being in the district, he said. A startup developing a healthcare app, for instance, gets value out of being physically near the people who regulate the healthcare industry.
"The explosion of app-based firms is huge," he said. "...Let's face it, this area, the Washington metro region, is a lot cooler than it was a decade ago."
Arlington and Fairfax counties have done a good job fostering an environment where startups can thrive, he said, though those and other local jurisdictions may need to look harder at rent discounts or tax incentives to help keep young companies from crossing the Potomac River.
Regarding the National Science Foundation's eventual move to Alexandria, Warner said, "I don't think Arlington will take a big hit" and that the move may free up space for more smaller businesses to take root.
UberOffices, a shared workspace venture on the first floor of 1400 Key Blvd., currently houses 47 businesses in its 10,000-square-foot space in Rosslyn.
Warner's visit on Thursday coincided with Startup Day Across America.
He talked about the federal JOBS Act, the country's shrinking investment in education and infrastructure, and the importance of making it easier to do business with the federal government — particularly small businesses.
Warner touched on crowdfunding, saying the government shouldn't kill that with overregulation, and his desire to see the federal government give up some of its wireless spectrum.
One question opened the door for the senator to address America's debt. Warner talked about the increase in defense spending since 9/11, the extra dollars demanded to maintain a Department of Homeland Security, two wars that were paid essentially with credit, expanded entitlement programs and this country's general increased life expectancy.
"We've got to start paying this down, or you guys are up the creek," he said. "Seventeen trillion dollars is a lot of money, even for the United States. If we could just get our balance sheet a little bit right, it would be better for your businesses than any government program."
UberOffices co-founder Raymond Rahbar took Warner on a brief tour following the event.
"There's very few people in Virginia who don't love the senator," Rahbar told Patch. "He's one of the few politicians that can actually speak the language of startups.".
This article was originally published Sept. 3. It was edited to correct a hyperlink on Sept. 4.