Business News from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority – September 15

Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Talk of Tysons

Amazon commits additional $163M for affordable housing in the region is awarding more than $163 million in loans and grants to 12 developers working on 11 affordable housing projects in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, the company said Wednesday, the Washington Business Journal reported. Amazon’s commitment will create or preserve 1,571 housing units, kept affordable long-term, which, in most cases, is 99 years. Four of the developments are located within one block of a Metro station. The recipients include Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, which  will receive $2 million grant to acquire 18 homes in the Colchester Towne Condominiums in the Fairfax County area of Alexandria. These homes, located at 7988 Audubon Ave., will be preserved as affordable for households earning 50 percent of the area median income.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay commented on Facebook: “Congratulations to Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services on receiving $2 million from Amazon—the largest single donation in Good Shepherd Housing’s history! Their vital mission is to provide high quality, affordable, stable housing to those who otherwise would have difficulty accessing it. With this gift, Good Shepherd Housing will acquire 18 condominium homes in southeastern Fairfax, preserving them for those making 50 percent AMI. Thank you to Amazon and to Good Shepherd Housing for all the work you do for our community.”

Catherine Buell, Amazon’s director of Amazon Housing Equity Fund for Amazon in the Community, said that the organization has now surpassed its goal of 1,000 affordable units in Washington, D.C. She said her team also selected projects led by developers of color immersed in communities throughout the region where affordable housing is most needed. “By working with these diverse development organizations, we can create long-lasting and inclusive affordable housing closer to public transit and other amenities that will improve quality of life for residents,” Buell said at a news conference Wednesday, reported the Washington Post. “We’ll also help ensure families across Washington, D.C. are not displaced from their communities.”

Amazon launched the Housing Equity Fund — a $2 billion commitment to preserve and build 20,000 affordable homes in its three hub regions — in January 2021. Since then, it’s committed more than $992 million in loans and grants to create or preserve more than 6,200 affordable homes in the greater Washington, D.C. region.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Did you know that there are more than 1,500 Hispanic-owned employer firms in Fairfax County? These firms employ more than 13,000 people with over $2 billion in receipts. Fairfax County has the largest number of Hispanic-owned employer firms in the Northern Virginia region.

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, FCEDA will be highlighting Hispanic business success stories in Fairfax County throughout the month. Follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook for more!

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2017 Annual Business Survey)

Vertical farm in Herndon

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin; Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr; Victor Hoskins, President and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority; and Sheila Olem, Mayor, Town of Herndon, were among the officials that attended Herndon-based Beanstalk‘s grand opening and ribbon cutting event on Sept. 13. Fairfax County provided grant funding for Beanstalk’s expansion into a former data center building. The vertical farming company pledged to invest $2 million into its ventures while creating 29 local jobs, further boosting state and county economic development. The indoor, vertical farm will produce the equivalent of 50 acres of produce (fresh salad mixes, vegetables, and herbs) in a 70,000 square foot facility, Data Center Knowledge reported.

Sustainable Cities Accelerator program

Amazon Web Services, which maintains its East Coast HQ in Herndon, will offer cloud education and mentorship for startup companies that want to develop infrastructure management tools through the third iteration of the Sustainable Cities Accelerator program, ExecutiveBiz reported. Jeffrey Kratz, general manager of AWS’ worldwide public sector channels and alliances, wrote in a blog post published Monday the company teamed up with Chicago-based venture development firm Freshwater Advisors and Washington, D.C., Chicago and U.K.-based market intelligence provider Public Spend Forum to facilitate a six-week immersion program beginning in early November. The program will include hands-on technical training for participants in machine learning and high-performance computing and help them connect to customers of the cloud provider. Selected startups have the chance to gain computing credits worth up to $100,000 via the AWS Activate program. Participating entrepreneurs are also eligible to receive business development planning and go-to-market assistance under the accelerator. The application period is now open and interested startups can submit their proposals until Oct. 21.

Cybersecurity jobs fast-track

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, which has a software development and R&D regional hub in Reston, is establishing a fast-track to six-figure cybersecurity jobs program at more than 180 colleges in an attempt to provide accessible pathways into the profession. The tech company launched a campaign to recruit 250,000 people into the cybersecurity workforce by offering a free cybersecurity curriculum to all U.S. public community colleges, providing training for college faculty, and offering financial support to 25,000 students. Alongside Abbott and Raytheon Technologies, Microsoft also supports the HBCU Cybersecurity Industry Collaboration Initiative Pilot. The program, which will run through Fall 2022, involves collaboration with the schools of engineering at four historically black colleges and universities, including in Virginia at Hampton University and Virginia State University.

One step closer to a new Springfield hospital

Falls Church-based Inova Health System just got an important green light to proceed with plans for a new Springfield hospital, the Washington Business Journal reported. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve Inova’s zoning application for the project at 6330 Lewin Drive, which would bring a nearly 1 million-square-foot hospital to a roughly 21-acre campus at the intersection of Beulah Street and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. “This decision moves Inova one step closer in continuing to grow on our existing campus and meet the health care needs of our community,” said Dr. Stephen Jones, Inova’s president and CEO.

Surge in satellite services

Following a surge in demand for the company’s services during the war in Ukraine, Herndon-based HawkEye 360 is looking at a new round of funding, and possibly going public in a couple of years, CEO John Serafini said Sept. 8, SpaceNews reported. Earth observation company HawkEye 360 uses satellites to monitor radio frequency (RF) signals emitted by electronic devices and analyzes the data to draw conclusions. Serafini said HawkEye 360 is planning a new funding round and perhaps an IPO, depending on market conditions. An almost exclusive focus on U.S. and international military and intelligence customers makes the company less vulnerable to the swings of the commercial markets, he said. Since the company was founded in 2015, HawkEye 360 has raised more than $300 million in six funding rounds.

Is this a roommate agreement, Sheldon?

U.K.-based satellite communications company OneWeb, which has its North American headquarters in Tysons; Tysons-based Iridium; and Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX jointly released a document of best practices for orbital safety last week, Satellite News reported. The document encompasses practices for all phases of satellite including design; launch and early orbit; on-orbit operations; and disposal. It describes information-sharing among satellite operators to avoid collisions, and it calls for satellites to be designed to minimize debris creation in the event of a collision.

No utility on the ground

Tysons-based Iridium will launch five of its remaining six ground spare satellites on a Falcon 9 rideshare mission in 2023, SpaceNews reported. Iridium said it selected SpaceX for the launch of the five satellites, sharing a launch with other, unnamed payloads. The launch is scheduled for the middle of 2023. “We have always said that when the right opportunity presented itself, we would launch many, if not all, of our remaining ground spares, and just such an opportunity came about,” said Matt Desch, chief executive of Iridium. “Our constellation is incredibly healthy; however, the spare satellites have no utility to us on the ground.”

More Iridium news

Tysons-based Satellite operator Iridium said recently that it had an agreement to develop its technology for use in smartphones, the Wall Street Journal reported in an article on how Apple’s iPhone satellite service “kicks off smartphone space race.” The Iridium deal included provisions to recoup earlier costs incurred “for commercializing a similar capability with another party,” according to a securities filing. Iridium declined to name the partner in its filing, and a spokesman declined to comment on the company’s plans. “There’s over a billion new smartphones a year. There’s something like seven billion smartphones out there in the coming years,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.

Support for Wounded Warriors

The PenFed Foundation, founded by Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union, furthered its commitment to wounded warriors and their families with a $200,000 grant to support Serve Our Willing Warriors, a charitable organization providing cost-free retreat stays and programs that positively impact wounded, ill, and injured service members, disabled veterans and their families. The grant will be used to begin construction on a 6-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot multi-purpose space. In addition to providing respite for wounded warriors and families, the PenFed Grand Lodge will impact warrior groups by delivering programs for post-traumatic stress counseling, job training, entrepreneurial training, and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “We are proud to continue our support of Serve Our Willing Warriors as they provide a home away from home for wounded and ill warriors and their families,” said James Schenck, president and CEO of PenFed Credit Union and CEO of PenFed Foundation. NPR has more.

Veterans help expand our world view

Tysons-based Guidehouse received the Seven Seals Award from a Department of Defense organization that honors civilian employers that support personnel serving in the National Guard and Reserve, ExecutiveBiz reported. The Washington, D.C. chapter of the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve gave its highest recognition to the consulting services provider at a dinner that took place Sept. 1. One of the company’s initiatives is the Veteran Affinity Network, which focuses on hiring and developing the skills of employees who have a military background. Coming from diverse backgrounds, veterans help expand our view of the world and develop solutions for different regions, different industries, and different challenges,” said Scott McIntyre, CEO of Guidehouse.

Honoring Korean War Veterans

StarKist Co., which moved its U.S. headquarters to Reston in April 2022, and its parent company, Dongwon of Seoul, South Korea, hosted a luncheon on September 10 for more than 80 Korean War veterans  at the Hilton Crystal City at the Washington Reagan National Airport. “The Korean War veterans are American heroes and StarKist is honored to be a part of The Chosin Few Reunion,” said Andrew Choe, StarKist President and CEO. “The Korean War veterans who fought in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir in November and December 1950, fought valiantly to protect and preserve freedom for the United States and South Korea. It is an honor to demonstrate our appreciation for their service and sacrifice.” Market Wire News picked up the release.

Support for families of fallen troops

Centreville-based Parsons and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors hosted the 15th Annual TAPS Golf Outing on Thursday in Joppa, Maryland, to raise funds to provide support for the families of U.S. fallen soldiers, ExecutiveBiz reported. The company said it has helped TAPS secure over $1 million by hosting and serving as the lead sponsor of the event.

Hall of Famers

A new cohort of business leaders were inducted by the Washington Business Journal  into its “Business Hall of Fame” this year, including Reggie Aggarwal, CEO and founder of Tysons-based Cvent; Michele Kang, founder and CEO of Falls Church-area based Cognosante and majority owner of the Washington Spirit; and Ray Ritchie, senior executive vice president of the Washington, D.C. regional office of Boston Properties. They join more than 125 past Business Hall of Famers since it launched in 1988, according to the Washington Business Journal. 

Adding another pillar

Fairfax-based 3Pillar Global acquired Canada-based software engineering firm Jonah Groupcitybiz reported. This is the latest in a line of strategic acquisitions and hires by 3Pillar as part of its accelerated growth strategy. 3Pillar also recently acquired a stronger foothold in Latin America with the acquisitions of Arizona-based Tiempo Development and Costa Rica-based Isthmus Software, as well as in Europe with the acquisition of Czech Republic-based Software Development Europe. The acquisition of Jonah Group will add to 3Pillar’s growing global footprint and expand the 3Pillar team to more than 2,300 employees across nine countries.

Party in the sky

Capital One Center has planned a weekend of events to celebrate the first anniversary of The Perch – a 2.5-acre gathering place 11 stories high next to Capital One’s headquarters in Tysons, InsideNoVa reported. The bi-annual Perchfest will be held Sept. 16-18. It is free and open to the public with a link to register here. Registration is recommended as guests will receive event notifications and be entered into a raffle. Activities include elevated mini golf at Perch Putt, local musicians on the amphitheater stage, bocce tournaments, specialty treats from community vendors and pie eating contests. The Perchfest charity partner is Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington DC.  Find out more about Perchfest from FCEDA’s partner organization Visit Fairfax.

About the Fairfax County
Economic Development Authority

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) promotes Fairfax County, Virginia, as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County.

Want to know more about the services of the FCEDA, or how economic development helps Fairfax County? Visit the  FCEDA website or e-mail

Fairfax County: “One of the great economic success stories of our time” — TIME