E-Bird Newsletter

Celebrating Fairfax County’s Black-owned companies in the health and wellness industry

In celebration of Black History Month, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is proud to note that the county is home to 639 Black-owned employer firms — businesses with payrolls. That is the highest number of any locality in Virginia, according to the most recent Annual Business Survey published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Black-owned businesses generate more than $1.8 billion in annual revenue and employ more than 11,000 people in Fairfax County, the Census Bureau reported.

Fairfax County has the most minority-, woman- and veteran-owned employer firms in the Greater Washington, D.C. region — more than 8,000 employer firms with 85,000 employees, which is 33 percent of all county payroll businesses. That is nearly twice the national share for minority-owned employers: 18 percent.

With Black History Month this year dedicated to health and wellness, we are honored to highlight four Fairfax County Black-owned firms in that industry sector.

SeKON Enterprise

In the health IT realm, Reston-based SeKON Enterprise, founded in 1996 by CEO and owner Dr. Angela Wilson, specializes in providing large-scale health IT programs in support of federal government customers. SeKON Enterprises has won numerous accolades, for example in 2021 ranking as a Washington Post Top Workplace, and a Washington Business Journal ranking as the 17th-largest cybersecurity company in the Washington area and the 16th largest woman-owned company in the D.C. region.

The company also ranked no. 7 in the Washington Business Journal’s “Corporate Diversity Index in Greater Washington D.C.” for medium-sized companies in 2021.

“At SeKON, our workforce reflects the diversity in the communities in which we serve. Our philosophy is quite simple. We seek and hire the best people,” Wilson said.

Somatus

Tysons-based Somatus, a market leader in value-based kidney care, was co-founded in 2016 by the company’s CEO Dr. Ikenna Okezie. Somatus, valued at over $2.5 billion, ranked as no. 14 on the Washington Business Journal’s rankings of the D.C. region’s most valuable start-ups in October. Okezie was ranked as EY’s 2020’s Entrepreneur of The Year® Mid-Atlantic Award Winner. The company won the DC Inno/Washington Business Journal Tech Madness competition in 2021.

Since its launch, Somatus’ high-touch, in-home care delivery model for patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease has served more than 150,000 patients nationwide. Somatus partners with health plans, health systems, and nephrology and primary care groups to provide integrated care for patients with or at risk of developing kidney disease. As the market leader in value-based kidney care, Somatus’ vertically integrated clinical services and technology delay or prevent disease progression, improve quality and care coordination, and increase the use of home dialysis modalities and rates of kidney transplantation.

“My goal for Somatus has always been to create a healthcare model that could be delivered to large populations of people in a way that was creative, innovative, and scalable,” Dr. Okezie said in a release picked up by Yahoo News.

Body Complete Rx

In the nutrition sector, Samia Gore founded Reston-based Body Complete Rx in 2017, a wellness brand of plant-based supplements. Since founding her company in 2017, the brand has grossed more than $10 million in sales, the Washington Business Journal reported.

In August 2021, Gore launched her exclusive plant-based, vegan supplements at The Vitamin Shoppe, making BCRX the first Black female-owned brand to launch in the retailer’s weight management category. Gore and Body Complete Rx have been featured in Elle, Essence, Bustle, Us Weekly and more, with Gore being a featured speaker as seen in ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit and more. Gore is a member of Inc’s 2021 Female Founders 100 list.

“As a busy mom of four, it was hard taking good care of myself — eating healthy, getting proper rest, exercising, pampering myself — it just wasn’t happening. I searched for plant-based supplements I could use as a system to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle and support my weight-loss journey,” Gore says on the company website. “When I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the market, I worked with Dr. Ruby Lathon [a certified holistic nutritionist and advocate for plant-based nutrition] to create Body Complete Rx.”

The St. James

The St. James, co-founded by Craig Dixon and Kendrick Ashton in 2018, is a massive 450,000 square foot sports, wellness and entertainment brand with sports venues, programming, instruction, training, active entertainment, wellness and lifestyle opportunities, all under one roof in Springfield. The St. James plans to open a second location in Fairfax County, a 25,000-square-foot premium Performance Club in Reston in 2022. It’s the next logical step given its success in the first three years since its Springfield facility opened, Dixon said in a statement, according to the Washington Business Journal.

“The Washington region and Fairfax County in particular were really a fantastic place for us to develop the very first St. James,” said Ashton in a 2018 interview with the FCEDA when the facility opened. “As everyone knows, Fairfax County is one of the most dynamic, high-growth, high-impact counties in all of the United States. The scale, density, economic vitality of the county, along with the quality of engagement that citizens have with sports – being generally active – makes this an incredible place to start a business like the St. James.”

Click here to check out the FCEDA’s Innovation in Fairfax County video interview with Ashton.

Coming March 1: Spotlight on “Crime Scene Kitchen” entrepreneur Erinn Roth

Are you thinking about launching a business? Or need assistance with your existing company? The FCEDA assists the region’s business community by offering a range of free services, including a semi-monthly virtual workshop, Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County, to help startup businesses get off the ground. Click here to register for the next session of E-101 on March 1 at 10 a.m.

Held every other month, E-101 features a panel of small business experts on how to start a business. Participants receive step-by-step information that covers registering a business, permitting requirements, business feasibility and business plan basics, business certifications, financing options and government resources.

In addition, the workshop features an “Entrepreneur Spotlight,” with a guest speaker who will discuss their entrepreneurial journey and share valuable tips for business success. The March 1 guest speaker is Chef Erinn Roth, an Army veteran and founder and owner of Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats, a soon-to-open business in the PenFed building in Tysons. Roth appeared on five episodes of the FOX show “Crime Scene Kitchen” in 2021.

E-101 is presented by the FCEDA in partnership with the Fairfax County government, the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Fairfax County-based Community Business Partnership and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Starting a business: FCEDA resources

The FCEDA partners with a number of organizations that provide services and resources to budding and existing business owners, including the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, an organization that facilitates the economic empowerment of black-owned businesses in Northern Virginia and the success and development of the region. The Northern Virginia Black Chamber is a member of the Multi-Cultural Chambers Alliance (MCCA), a collaborative partnership with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber. All three chambers are conveniently located in the same suite as the FCEDA in Tysons.

Additional entrepreneurship services are available through FCEDA’s partner organizations such as the Community Business Partnership, based in Springfield, a non-profit organization working in collaboration with a number of local, regional and national organizations to promote small business growth in Fairfax County and beyond.

A range of additional services are provided by the FCEDA to prospective and current business owners, including providing access to free business counseling services through an arrangement with SCORE, a nonprofit association comprised of members who serve as free counselors, advisors and mentors.

In addition, the FCEDA’s business resources range from informational webinars and events to marketing opportunities–and much more.

For more information, contact Karen Smaw, director of the FCEDA’s Diversity Business Investment and Entrepreneurship division at ksmaw@fceda.org or 703-790-0600.