Business News from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority – May 16

Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Talk of Tysons

Collaboration Key to Tysons-Headquartered Somatus’ Success

Rapidly growing Tysons-based kidney-care company Somatus, established in 2016, leads as the highest-valued unicorn in Northern Virginia, according to CBInsights. A unicorn is a privately held startup company with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

Fairfax County is an ideal location for Somatus’ headquarters, according to their Chief Legal Officer, Alicia Palmer, a local resident for over 30 years.

“There is a lot of talent in this market, including fantastic nurses, nurse practitioners, patient health advocates, social workers, dietitians, and strong leaders in business. It’s not surprising, as Fairfax is a great place to live and work and offers great schools, public transportation, and two nearby international airports,” Palmer said.

We sat down with Somatus Co-Founder and CEO, Dr. Ikenna Okezie; Deputy Chief Medical Officer and practicing nephrologist, Dr. Bassem Mikhael; Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Derek Kung; and Chief Legal Officer, Alicia Palmer—all Northern Virginia residents—for a conversation about launching the company, its growth, use of innovative technology, and why Fairfax County is a great place for the company’s headquarters.

Click here to read more.

Women in Technology Honors Tech Leaders at Annual Event

Reston-based SAIC CEO Toni Townes-Whitley was honored by Women in Technology (WIT) at its 25th Annual Leadership Awards event on May 9 with the organization’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards, presented in Reston, honored women professionals who have “demonstrated success in entrepreneurial, STEM, government and corporate industries while inspiring colleagues, partners and their community.”

“I am deeply grateful to Women in Technology for acknowledging the impact and contributions of women in the technology industry,” said Toni Townes-Whitley, Chief Executive Officer of SAIC. “This award serves as a reminder that our achievements are not just individual milestones but also significant milestones for women in the field. Together, we have shattered glass ceilings, overcome barriers, and demonstrated that gender should never limit one’s potential.”

The winners included the follow women who work at Fairfax County-based companies.

This year’s WIT President’s Award was presented to Emily O’Brien, Vice President of Sales and Healthcare Solutions, Curate Partners. (Reston).

In addition, the following women tech leaders at companies and organizations based in other parts of Greater Washington were honored at the event:

For more information on Women in Technology, visit

Comstock Celebrates Topping Out of JW Marriott Hotel and Residences at Reston Station

Reston-based Comstock Holding Companies, an asset manager, developer, and operator of mixed-use and transit-oriented properties in the Washington, D.C. region, celebrated the topping out of Virginia’s first-ever JW Marriott Hotel and Residences on Wednesday, May 8. The event, held on-site at 1800 Reston Row Plaza, commemorated the significant progress that has been made on the development of The Row at Reston Station.

The JW Marriott Hotel and Residences will offer upscale accommodations and residential options positioned near Metro’s Silver Line, providing convenient access to downtown Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas.

“This is well over 20 years of effort, creativity, drive, of a lot of people around us today – this is literally a small town that is popping up around us in what is one of the most dynamic locations,” said Jeffrey C. McKay, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “The creative public-private partnership that happened here is because there was a vision on the public and private side to do something really special.”

“None of this would be possible without our private and public partnerships, as well as everyone at Comstock. Not to mention world-class businesses like Marriott that are coming here and will help bring this place to life,” said Christopher Clemente, Chairman and CEO of Comstock. “The Row at Reston Station is a sought-after destination that is raising the bar for mixed-use development will set a new standard for placemaking within transit-oriented communities.”

The Row at Reston Station, a $1.3 billion project spanning approximately 1.5 million square feet adjacent to the fully developed Metro Plaza District of Reston Station, represents the next phase of this vibrant neighborhood. A flagship 55,000 square foot VIDA Fitness and Spa is set to open in The Row later this month and will eventually be joined by amenities such as Puttshack and Ebbitt House, the first-ever expansion of the Old Ebbitt Grill brand. Alongside these offerings will be two LEED Silver-certified trophy office towers, 1800 Reston Row Plaza and 1880 Reston Row Plaza, as well as BLVD Haley, a luxury residential building. WTOP and Reston Patch have more.

D.C. region’s AI job growth ranks no. 2 in nation

Over the past year, the D.C. metro area has outpaced most of the nation in new job creation tied to artificial intelligence, a trend likely to continue as demand for AI-based products and services climbs, DCINNO reported. That’s according to data compiled by UMD-LinkUp AI Maps — a joint effort from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and LinkUp, as part of an initiative that monitors AI job creation across the country. Per the findings, D.C. itself ranks ahead of all 50 states when it comes to the ratio of AI-related job postings to the total number of all new job postings over the past 12 months. When looking at the D.C., Maryland and Virginia as a whole, the region accounted for 11.7 percent of the nation’s 14,023 new AI job postings in March, second only to California, which accounted for 20.5 percent. These job growth figures come amid a separate report published by Microsoft that surveyed business executives on the use of AI in the workplace. For the D.C. area specifically, the survey found that about half of this region’s leaders would not hire someone who lacked AI skills.

And college grads moving here…to work at the IRS? 

More college graduates are hoping to land a job working for Uncle Sam, WTOP reported. A new survey from campus recruitment website Handshake found Greater Washington, D.C. has become a hot spot for recent grads. According to the survey, Greater Washington D.C. is the second most popular destination, behind only New York City. The cities with the biggest drop in interest with the class of 2024 are Dallas and Seattle. This year’s graduates are looking for more security with tech jobs in the government instead of gigs with big tech companies. Handshake said 7.5 percent of job applications on its site from the class of 2024 have been submitted to government agencies, compared to 5.5 percent with those that graduated last year. More 2024 graduates with degrees in computer science majors are applying to jobs with computer hardware and information compared to positions with software developers. Federal Times and Axios DC have more.

And speaking of hiring

Reston-based Peraton’s hiring process was featured in a Wall Street Journal article about utilizing an AI-resume review tool. At Peraton, the highest-volume job openings can now draw about 1,200 applicants in 24 hours, said Alison Paris, Senior Vice President, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning at Peraton. About two years ago, the company began using a tool that identified potential job candidates from their online profiles who might be a good fit for open positions. Then, about six months ago, her team began using an AI resume review tool that highlights the candidates who are the closest matches for open jobs. It allows her staff to spend more time screening candidates instead of reading submissions. Candidates’ use of AI is pushing Peraton’s hiring managers to use live video interviews more frequently in the screening process, according to the article. “They want to be able to look someone in the eye,” Paris said. 

Elevating geolocation

Tysons-based NextNav is winner of Fast Company’s 2024 World Changing Ideas Award in the software category. The company has developed a way to address the two-dimensional limitations of GPS, according to Fast Company. Specifically, the article cites an example of a person dialing 911 during an emergency in a tall building and then their phone dies. As part of a nationwide 911 upgrade, the operator can now obtain their location without them even saying so. But there’s one problem: If they are in a building with more than a single story, GPS doesn’t know what floor they are on, potentially leaving emergency responders searching the building and losing precious time. To address the two-dimensional limitations of GPS, NextNav developed a way to obtain the third dimension. Click here to learn about the innovative technology developed by NextNav that can save lives.

Expanding its footprint

Virginia Cancer Specialists, a local oncology practice with sites throughout the region, including four locations in Fairfax County, is deep into a multimillion-dollar push to expand care, and its footprint, in Northern Virginia, according to Washington Business Journal. The 52-year-old group, which provides care and clinical research at 10 Northern Virginia locations, has relocated three of its offices to larger spaces, executed renovations at those new sites and hired up to address a mounting need for its services. And it has two more projects slated for this year. Virginia Cancer Specialists opened its newest location last week at 3700 Joseph Siewick Drive, adjacent to its Fair Oaks home of 20 years. The $2.5 million project gives the group 7,162 square feet — 50 percent more than its old space, which enables it to grow its existing service lines, including genetics, and add more, such as social work, for the first time. The site’s scope of care also comprises breast surgery, medical oncology, nutrition and survivorship services.

Meeting the need

The Capital Area Food Bank is set to open a 45,000-square-foot distribution center in Lorton later this summer nearly four times the size of its former warehouse there, Washington Business Journal reported. The $35 million facility will boast increased storage capacity, more efficient truck docks, a dedicated volunteer packing area and additional freezers and refrigerators, all of which will help the region’s largest food bank meet increased demand for fresh food, said Radha Muthiah, its president and CEO. “This new facility is going to help improve everything,” Muthiah said in an interview. “The new freezers and fridges are especially going to help us try to reach our goal of providing 70 percent high nutritious foods that are expensive and perishable, like meat, vegetables and produce.”

Humanitarian communications

Chantilly-based UltiSat, a global provider of unified communications solutions to government, humanitarian-aid and critical infrastructure markets, announced that in 2023 through the first quarter of 2024 the company accepted orders for over 575 Starlink kits and subscriptions. Starlink provides high-speed satellite internet access for a range of missions including Humanitarian Aid Disaster Response (HADR) support for refugee relief camps and government personnel located in remote locations. Customers spanned a range of U.S. federal government and international humanitarian organizations. The Starlink kits and subscriptions included both fixed and mobile systems. “Providing mission critical communications to government and international-aid organizations requires a particular expertise,” said UltiSat president and CEO David Myers. “Compared to residential or commercial customers, there are different standards and strict rules regarding security and acquisitions, whether for U.S. federal agencies or international government organizations like the United Nations. To ensure proper customer support and regulatory compliance, a qualified government integrator should be certified by both the buying organization, as well as by the supplier of the services.” Yahoo Finance has more.

Harbouring a raft

Reston-based Raft, a national security-focused IT services startup, has raised $60 million in growth funding from private equity firm Washington Harbour Partners, of Arlington, Va., citybiz reported. Founded in 2018, Raft focuses on the “modern digital battlefield.” Harnessing advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the company builds solutions for federal and defense customers. “Our partnership with Washington Harbour will accelerate Raft’s mission of ushering in a new paradigm for the modern warfighter, across all domains of air, land, sea, space and cyber,” said Raft founder and CEO Shubhi Mishra. 

Opportunity to join the neighborhood

A 14-acre site next to Tysons’ Greensboro Metro is now being marketed for sale as a Home Depot-anchored mixed-use district, reported Bisnow. The owners of 2000-2050 Chain Bridge Road are marketing the site, home to the Koons auto dealership since 1975, for three different opportunities: a ground lease, a sale and a joint venture. CBRE is marketing the site, according to a posting on its website and a marketing brochure posted to LoopNet. The brochure indicates the plan would be to develop more than 2 million square feet residential, office, retail and restaurant uses, including a 108,000 square foot Home Depot and 28,000 square foot Home Depot Garden Center.

Monitoring agriculture worldwide

Tysons-based Helios Artificial Intelligence, an AI company focused on predicting agricultural disruptions, launched the world’s first platform to forecast prices and supply availability of soft commodities on a global level. Agricultural buyers can now monitor global growing seasons for the top 50 fruits and vegetables, shift buying patterns accordingly, and get ahead of price increases, reported ABC4.comFrancisco Martin-Rayo, co-founder and CEO, said, “Customers today have to rely on word of mouth and outdated generic reports. For the first time, with Helios’ newest platform, users can monitor a crop’s growing season across key countries, quickly determine supply availability, and forecast global price shifts.”

New V2x leadership

Tysons government contractor V2X said it has tapped Jeremy Wensinger as its next president and CEO, Washington Business Journal reported. Wensinger, who was most recently chief operating officer with Reston national security contractor Peraton will succeed Chuck Prow on June 17 as the V2X chief. He will also take a seat on the company’s board.

No golf carts required

CitySwing opened an indoor golf studio in Reston Town Center on May 8, filling a space at 11897 Market Street, reported FFXnow. During its soft launch, the studio is operating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Patrons can now reserve times online for lessons and simulator rentals, though walk-ins are also welcome. Founder Tari Cash said CitySwing was excited to expand its audience and “be in the center of the vibrant RTC community” with its new location.

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