- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

Some D.C. businesses braved frigid temperatures and a snarled transit system yesterday to stay open on Inauguration Day, though most said it was a productive workday.

The federal government and many local governments closed, as did companies along the inaugural parade route.

But some businesses, mostly those operating just outside of the security perimeter, kept normal business hours yesterday while allowing some flexibility for their commuting employees.

Automated Graphic Imaging Inc., a graphics and print design company in Northwest, opened its doors at 8 a.m. for a small workload.

“All the offices around us are closed, so it’s a slow day,” said Robert Luljak, account manager at the Vermont Avenue office. Only three of the company’s eight employees had arrived by mid-afternoon because of commuting problems, Mr. Luljak said.

“We weren’t expecting to get much done anyway,” he said.

Blackboard Inc., a D.C. educational software company, kept its L Street headquarters open and operated as a normal business day, said Mary Good, senior vice president for human resources.

“Two thousand colleges, universities and K-12 school systems run our mission software. As a result, we need to be able to support those clients continually,” Ms. Good said.

Some of the company’s 250 employees at the main office worked from home, while others anticipated driving delays or used the Metrorail and Metrobus system, Ms. Good said.

Marmillion and Company Strategic Communications , a public relations firm on Massachusetts Avenue just outside the parade’s security perimeter, also operated during normal hours.

“Living in D.C., you have to get used to these large-scale events,” said Kip Patrick, account supervisor at Marmillion’s Northwest office. All but one of the firm’s workers made it to work, he said.

“At least it’s a great time to catch up on work with less distractions coming in from outside,” he said.

The WadeGroup Inc., a public relations firm on K Street, closed but still had its five employees work from home yesterday.

“It made sense that everyone work at home to their best extent possible,” said company Vice President Dan Doherty. While projects involving government officials are stalled until next week, Mr. Doherty said his staff caught up on other projects.

“It really has been a disruptive week,” he said.

Wesley Combs, president of D.C. marketing firm Witeck Combs Communications Inc., gave employees the day off and closed the office on L Street, which is just one block from the security perimeter.

Part of the reason was that several of the firm’s 12 employees reported commuting problems as early as Sunday, before the inaugural week events began Tuesday, Mr. Combs said.

Most employers in buildings along the parade route opted to close because of the traffic hassles and heavy security, said CeCe Brooks, property management director for Kaempfer Management Services LLC, which manages several office buildings in the District.

“This is the first time security for the inauguration has been this intense,” Ms. Brooks said, referring to the increased security precautions and the 7,000 federal, state and local law-enforcement officers in the area.

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