Alexandria touted as center for creativity

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Industry competitors seem to excel when several of them are located right down the street from one another. Think Madison Avenue, the Silicon Valley and Seattle’s grunge rock scene.

Following this thinking, a group of local business owners wants to brand Alexandria as a center for firms involved in marketing, public relations and advertising. They’ve created “iMAGINE Alexandria,” a professional organization promoting the construction of the iMAGINE Center. Envisioned as a 500,000-square-foot creative hub, the building will offer an incubator for startup creative firms. It also would have a retail and technology lab, a conference facility, educational spaces, a museum, shops and restaurants.

“When we first started researching this, we found that there were already approximately 230 commercial creative firms in Alexandria, and we didn’t even know it,” says Brad Nierenberg, an iMAGINE Alexandria founder who is president and CEO of Red Peg Marketing. “So we realized that for this group to thrive, they needed a place to interact and connect to one another.”

In addition to PR, advertising and marketing, the 230 firms include Web site developers, graphic designers and commercial photographers. Nierenberg notes that Red Peg has partnered with two companies, Belmont Inc. and Stokefire, on a couple of multimillion dollar pitches. “All we have to do is know they exist and that they’re available, and we’re doing business together,” he says. “It’s so much easier.”

Nierenberg says that iMAGINE Alexandria is raising funds for a $250,000 feasibility study that would identify potential locations. The organization hopes to break ground on the center by April 2010.

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