Business News from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority – February 22

Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Talk of Tysons

In Memoriam: Catherine Riley

“It is with solemn gratitude and utmost respect that we remember our dear colleague and friend, Catherine Riley, following her passing on February 7, 2024. Cathy was a shining example of a true servant leader, and she leaves an incredible legacy of excellence in economic development. Because of her work, Fairfax County has become a global hub where businesses and people thrive. She will be deeply missed.”

Victor Hoskins, president and CEO
Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

A Legacy of Excellence in Economic Development

During her decades long career in public service, Catherine Riley had a tremendous impact on the economic growth of Fairfax County, Northern Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. She was an experienced economic development executive with a proven track record for winning corporate relocations, developing strategy, implementing outreach, and hiring talent for Fairfax County, one of the most successful communities in the U.S.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ms. Riley graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and completed additional training in real estate, management, and economic development.

Over the past 35 years, Ms. Riley served in a variety of leadership roles at the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), including most recently as Senior Vice President. At FCEDA, she oversaw strategic planning and project management for the agency’s three investment divisions: National Business Investment; International Business Investment; and Diversity Investment and Entrepreneurship Division programs.

Ms. Riley managed a team that generated over 90,000 new jobs in Fairfax County over the last decade. This included headquarters relocations for companies such as Hilton Worldwide, CSC, SAIC, and Volkswagen Group of America. She also managed successful bids to win headquarters relocations for Intelsat and Northrop Grumman, as well as the Global Operations Center of Bechtel.

Before being promoted to Vice President in 2002, Ms. Riley co-founded the FCEDA International Division and served as its first Director. She initiated the agency’s overseas investment program and opened its first foreign office in Tokyo, Japan. During her tenure as Director, she opened five more overseas offices. FCEDA’s International Division is now one of the most comprehensive foreign direct investment programs for a U.S.-based locality.

Ms. Riley was active in various organizations. She was the president of the British American Business Association (BABA) from 2010-2012, served on its Board of Directors for six years and on its Executive Committee for three years. She also chaired the BABA Strategic Planning Committee. Additionally, she served on the Executive Committee of the British American Business Council and was its representative for the Southeast regional chapters.

Ms. Riley was a Strategic Planning Steering Committee member at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, from 2017-18. She also served on the George Mason University Honors College Dean’s Advisory Board. She was also involved with the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, having served on its Board of Directors for six years and its Executive Committee for three years. She also served on its Transition Team and Nominating Committees.

Ms. Riley was a graduate of Leadership Fairfax, where she served on the Board of Directors, and a member of both the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Complementary capabilities

Tysons-based Capital One and Illinois-based Discover have entered into a definitive agreement under which Capital One will acquire Discover in an all-stock transaction valued at $35.3 billion, citybiz reported. “From Capital One’s founding days, we set out to build a payments and banking company powered by modern technology. Our acquisition of Discover is a singular opportunity to bring together two very successful companies with complementary capabilities and franchises, and to build a payments network that can compete with the largest payments networks and payments companies,” said Richard Fairbank, founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Capital One. “Through this combination, we’re creating a company that is exceptionally well-positioned to create significant value for consumers, small businesses, merchants, and shareholders as technology continues to transform the payments and banking marketplace.”

Beacon for flights

Washington Dulles International Airport is getting millions in federal funding to build a new 14-gate terminal, CBS News 19 reported. Virginia’s senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced last week that the airport was getting $35 million for expansion and improvements from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. “Dulles Airport is a beacon for both domestic and international flights, and has expanded rapidly over the past decade,” according to the senators. “This funding will improve travel for passengers and ensure that the airport stays functional and safe while continuing to meet flight demands.” According to a release, Dulles will use the money to build a new 400,000-square-foot terminal building that will include a direct connection to the Aerotrain, which helps move passengers throughout the airport. It will also have an indirect connection to the Metro Silver Line at Dulles, which the senators helped to open in 2022. This is not the first chunk of funding to support this project. The senators announced $49.6 million in 2022 and another $20 million in 2023.

Interception! 

Falls Church area-based BAE Systems recently completed its acquisition of Ball Aerospace, a spacecraft company headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, according to Built In. The acquisition adds space, science and defense capabilities to BAE Systems’ portfolio through a new business called Space & Mission Systems. This marks a significant milestone for BAE Systems, as it adds over 5,200 U.S. employees to its team. BAE Systems designs and manufactures combat and trainer aircraft, land-based combat vehicles and surface ships. It also develops electronics for commercial and military clients and provides cyber, intelligence and security capabilities.

AI Consortium

Fairfax-based George Mason University has joined more than 200 of the nation’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) stakeholders to participate in a Department of Commerce initiative to support the development and deployment of trustworthy and safe AI.  Mason will bring its expertise in AI and leadership in emerging technologies to the initiative. “Mason researchers look to solve complex problems that demand creativity, trans-disciplinarity, and a sustained passion for digital innovation for good. We look forward to working with the consortium to achieve these goals,” said Amarda Shehu, associate vice president of research in Mason’s Institute for Digital Innovation. Mason is the only Virginia university in the consortium. George Mason News has more.

Stellar revenue rise

Tysons-based Iridium Communications saw its engineering and support revenue increase 74 percent to $31.1 million during the fourth quarter of 2023, driven by a rise in U.S. government activity, and posted a record total revenue of $790.7 million for the full year, up 10 percent from the prior-year period, reported GovConWire. “We reevaluate that assessment periodically, and our most recent review in the fourth quarter prompted us to update the constellation’s estimated life, which we now believe will perform well through at least 2035,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said at an earnings call.

Reimagined Internship

James Madison University X-Labs, a center for engaged interdisciplinary research, partnered with the Reston-based  global education technology company Ellucian to create a pilot internship program that leads students to develop a software, according to The Breeze. Ten students with varying majors and years form the “Reimagined Internship,” which gives students the opportunity to solve “real-world problems through courses, fellowships, workshops, and other initiatives,” according to the X-Labs website. Each student is enrolled in a prep course this semester through JMU to prepare them for the internship. After the semester’s end, the in-person, paid opportunity will take place in Reston.


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  info@fceda.org.