Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for August 3, 2021: Leidos autonomous ships, Clarabridge-Qualtrics deal, Cvent looks abroad

photo credit: Leidos

Innovation, shore enough: Reston-based Leidos’ autonomous landing craft was deployed outside the continental United States for the first time, Naval Technology reported. The demonstration was conducted in Albania in support of Defender-Europe 21, an annual U.S. Army-led, multinational, joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S., NATO and partner militaries. A sailor remotely moored the vessel to the roll-on-roll-off deployment facility during the exercise. In addition to autonomously beaching itself, the vessel carried a load to the pier from the Sealift Command ship. According to Leidos, the program demonstrated its existing and future ship-to-shore capabilities while operating autonomously as part of a deployed group operating near the shore.

We Are Greater Washington: Localities across Greater Washington, including Fairfax County, plan to work together to pursue federal funding for regional economic-development priorities in a new effort spearheaded by a nonprofit that’s spent the pandemic promoting greater local collaboration. Connected DMV, an organization of government, business and academic leaders working on regional issues, will launch and manage a joint program office called “We Are Greater Washington” aimed at steering federal money made available by the American Rescue Plan and other programs to the D.C. area. FCEDA President and CEO Victor Hoskins has been leading the Connected DMV initiative to create a regional economic development strategy. The Washington Business Journal has more.

C-ing globally: Tysons-based event-management software firm Cvent is among eight companies to graduate most recently from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program, Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week. The VALET program helps Virginia companies use international exporting as a growth strategy. During the two-year program, businesses learn international sales plan development services through trainings from international service providers, meetings with potential partners, educational events and market research, Virginia Business reported.

A bridge not too far: Qualtrics International reached a deal to acquire Reston software company Clarabridge for $1.13 billion in stock. Qualtrics makes software that allows companies to survey customer feedback. It spun out of German software giant SAP SE earlier this year. The Provo, Utah, company gains Clarabridge’s AI-powered software that combs social media, customer service support chats and other channels for feedback about a customer’s experience, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Galleria of pent-up demand: Shopping mall owners across the D.C. region and the nation have sought to adapt to the changing retail market by transforming old department store boxes, and the latest example in Tysons has quickly succeeded in backfilling the space. Brookfield Properties told Bisnow it renovated the 260,000-square foot former Macy’s space at Tysons Galleria and has fully leased it to 10 new tenants, including CMX CinéBistro, Bowlero, RH, ArHaus and Crate & Barrel. Brookfield also said it has multiple deals it can’t yet disclose, including one with a “high-profile” restaurateur. These deals were in the works before the pandemic, according to Chris Pine, Brookfield’s EVP of anchors and big box leasing. “Everything that we did seems to have hit the market perfectly,” Pine said. “Furniture and home is one of strongest categories in retail right now, and we’re well-represented by some of the best operators in the category. And then entertainment and restaurants, there’s people with a lot of pent-up demand to go to restaurants and seek out entertainment and theaters as well.”

Very hot market: IDEMIA CEO Donnie Scott told the Washington Business Journal that he wants to accelerate the digital-identity business post-pandemic. The Paris-based global security firm, which bases its North American subsidiary in Reston, provides identity authentication tools. Scott, named CEO of the company’s North American operations in June, said the company has weathered many of the pandemic’s effects. And perhaps because of the pandemic, the digital-identity industry is picking up steam in a way that shows both the benefits of technology modernization trends and the need for some alternatives to physical identification. “I think the identity space and the contactless biometrics space is a very hot market with a lot of eyes on it,” Scott said.

Supporting woman veteran entrepreneurs: Tysons-based PenFed Foundation is launching a bootcamp accelerator program for women veteran entrepreneurs in collaboration with the Department of Veteran Affairs. Female veterans from 29 different states interested in starting a business will participate in the four-month program, which culminates in a pitch competition. The pitch winner will receive a $15,000 grant from PenFed, with $10,000 and $5,000 grants for second and third place. The bootcamp follows the foundation’s Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program, which launched in April of 2018 and offered seed investments to women vets, reported Technical.ly/DC.

Got game: Tysons-based Gannett signed an agreement with the American subsidiary of European sports betting and gaming firm Tipico Group to partner on sports betting and digital gaming. The deal will integrate the Tipico Sportsbook brand into the more than 250 local news sites throughout the USA Today Network, including The Indianapolis Star and Detroit Free Press, as well as 200-plus sports news sites in Gannett’s USA Today Sports Media Group, such as For the Win, Golfweek and others, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Noble endeavor: Reston-based Noblis announced that the company has launched Noblis MSD, a newly rebranded subsidiary made up of the recently acquired McKean Defense Group and Cabrillo Technologies, to deliver solutions that drive new levels of “scale, agility, efficiency and innovation” for the U.S. Navy and other defense clients. “Noblis MSD combines decades of specialized defense mission domain knowledge with the latest technological innovation, and the resulting synergies will directly benefit both our clients and our employees,” said Amr ElSawy, president and CEO of Noblis. The Washington Business Journal has more.

Here comes the sun: Tysons-based LMI acquired Falls Church firm Suntiva, in order to provide LMI with deep offerings in hot markets like technology modernization, workforce services and business optimization operations, the Washington Business Journal reported. It’s the first time since the pandemic that the Tysons government consulting not-for-profit has turned to M&A since acquiring The Tauri Group in February 2019.

Funding Tysons’ future: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved $250,000 in Economic Opportunity Reserve funds for the Tysons Partnership, which will use the money to support branding efforts, install a mural on the former Container Store property, and position itself for long-term financial health. Established in 2012 to implement the county’s new comprehensive plan for Tysons and support redevelopment efforts in the urban center, Tysons Partnership is an organization that includes employers, retailers, residential communities and landowners, according to the Sun Gazette.

Silver lining: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, it felt as if the long-running goal of transforming Tysons from a commuter-driven “edge city” into a vibrant, urban, walkable destination “would be so disrupted,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA. But the increase in social distancing and remote work caused by the pandemic “actually has improved the kinds of things we thought we could do,” he said. “Out of unfortunate circumstances, we’ve found new ways to do the work that we do.” Those new ways have included creating more bicycle and walking paths and making better use of public spaces, Hoskins said. “It sounds small, but it’s happening and it’s creating a better sense of place” in keeping with the long-term vision for Tysons, he says, “and we want to hold on to all of those things.” Hoskins isn’t the only one who sees a silver lining in the otherwise dire events of the past year and a half. See Virginia Business to read more.

Hops-ing down the bunny trail: Bunnyman Brewing opened at 5583 Guinea Road, Fairfax. The brewery, started by Fairfax County friends Sam Gray and Eric Barrett, capitalizes on the urban legend involving a person in a bunny suit with a hatchet or axe in Clifton decades ago, and it is the first brewery in the Burke area. Burke Patch hopped in the news.

Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

CACI International won a nine-year, $496 million contract by the Air Force Sustainment Center to support the mission for the Ogden Air Logistics Complex’s using CACI’s software methodologies, industrial process controls and quality systems. ExecutiveBiz

Brillient obtained a $301.6 contract to help the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services process applications and petitions. GovConWire

Peraton received a five-year, $130 million contract from the Defense Manpower Data Center to support and modernize computer applications that assess entitlements for more than 40 million service members, retirees, family members and other beneficiaries. ExecutiveBiz

Science Applications International Corp. won a five-year, $85 million contract to help the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Panama City Division update command and control systems for the Navy. ExecutiveBiz

CVP secured a three-year, $84 million contract for product engineering services in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. ExecutiveBiz

Featured business events

August 3 — The Amazon Opportunity. The Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance, of which the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is a member, is a sponsor of this virtual event that focuses on Amazon’s expansion and impact on the community in four areas: talent pipeline, housing and infrastructure, community engagement and commercial real estate. Attendees will hear from Amazon executives leading a variety of different initiatives within the organization, as well as Amazon’s business partners, real estate developers, nonprofit partners, and economic development experts about the best ways to partner with Amazon, what programs the company is focused on and where Amazon is focusing on next. Click here to register.

August 4 — Networking before Nine. The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce presents an event that provides a great opportunity for networking (including the chance to give a 30-second introduction of yourself and business to the whole group) and will cover technology and regional issues. Representatives from Google will share updates on their latest innovative tech products and services then we’ll hear from Anne Rosenblum with the FCEDA. Attend in-person at the Reston Chamber or online. Click here to register.

August 7 — Let’s Get Back to Work: In-Person Job Fair. Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria Campus, presents a free job fair. Local businesses are invited to participate in this opportunity to find talent for their organization. Register today to save your spot and a chance to connect with job seekers/talent. This event is free and open to local area businesses. Click here for employer registration.

September 14 — Entrepreneurship 101. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Community Business Partnership and the U.S. Small Business Administration, conducts a free workshop for those persons that are interested in starting a business in Fairfax County.  The workshop provides an overview of start-up basics (licenses and permits), workforce services and training programs, and SBA resources including financing and certification programs. This session’s guest speakers in the Entrepreneurial Spotlight will be Scott and Cyndi Hoffman, the founders/owners of Ono Brewing Company in Chantilly. Registration to open soon. Click here for more information.

September 14-15 — LEADS (Leadership, Excellence, and Adaptability of business built on pillars of Diversity and Sustainability). The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is partnering with FICCI, a prominent trade association based in India, for the second edition of a global thought-leadership initiative with an overarching theme of “Future of Partnerships.” This hybrid program brings together business leadership from 12 countries to describe their vision of the future of fundamental aspects of global economic prosperity built on pillars of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), engaging audiences from east, central and South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa, West Asia, the Americas and the Pacific. Click here to register.

November 4 — Veteran & Military Family Career Day. Sponsored by the FCEDA, Fort Belvoir, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Fairfax County Dept. of Economic Initiatives, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, this event will be held at the National Museum of the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir. Save the date! Details and registration information to come.

How the Fairfax County EDA can help

The FCEDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. Visit the FCEDA’s Covid-19 Business Resource Hub for up-to-date information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.