Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for March 30, 2021: LMI and Howard U., Voltswagen, SpaceLink, OneWeb

Partnership expansion: LMI, a private not-for-profit consulting firm in Tysons, is expanding its partnership with Washington, D.C.-based Howard University, a historically Black university, which will bring research funding, mentoring and client engagements to Howard University and, for LMI, expanded participation in groundbreaking academic research for its clients. The LMI Research Institute incorporates cutting-edge ideas and research endeavors from leading universities, such as Howard University, with LMI’s own innovative programs to benefit U.S. government clients. “As a research university and leader in STEM fields, Howard University is an exceptional academic institution. LMI is very pleased to expand our long-term partnership between Howard University and our LMI Research Institute,” stated Doug Wagoner, LMI president and CEO. ExecutiveBiz has more.

Watts up with VW: Volkswagen, which bases its North American operations in Herndon, announced this morning that it is changing its U.S. brand name from Volkswagen of America to Voltswagen of America effective May 1 as a public declaration of the company’s all-in investment in electric vehicles. Later the company told CNBC that the announcement was a marketing ploy “in the spirit of April Fool’s Day” to generate interest in the ID.4, its first long-range all-electric, zero direct emission SUV available to customers in the United States. Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, joined Cheddar to discuss the company’s broader electric vehicle ambitions. The company’s fleet eventually will become 100 percent electric, Keogh said.

Dark fiber for the NOVA diet: Tenebris Fiber, an Annandale-based provider of dark fiber, teamed with JLC Infrastructure and Diode Ventures to begin development of a new dark fiber network in Northern Virginia. The first phase of the project includes a 75-mile buried route through Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, which will provide dark fiber access from Ashburn to Manassas. When fully completed, the 680-mile regional network will connect submarine cables landing in Virginia Beach to public and private data centers and network operators situated within Northern Virginia’s Data Center Alley, which carries about 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic. Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Tysons satellite hub: Satellite telecommunications company SpaceLink, a subsidiary of Australian aerospace and defense contractor Electro Optic Systems, announced that it established its headquarters in Tysons. SpaceLink is building a space-relay network of satellites in medium-Earth orbit. The company also has operations in Silicon Valley and Huntsville, Ala. “The new headquarters office is another indicator of how our business strategy is gaining momentum,” SpaceLink CEO David Bettinger said. “The Northern Virginia location provides a hub for activities that serve a broad range of spacecraft operators who need continuous connectivity in near-Earth orbit.” Virginia Business has more.

Polar express: U.K.-based OneWeb, which has its North American headquarters in Tysons, plans to start offering broadband from space in the Arctic region this fall, a capability the company says it hopes will attract U.S. military and other national government customers. OneWeb is racing to provide coverage in the Arctic where currently only Tysons-based Iridium offers satellite-based communications services. The Arctic has become an area of strategic interest where melting ice caps have set off a race for resources, and Russia and China are trying to increase their influence too. The ability to provide coverage in the Arctic gives OneWeb an advantage over competitors, said OneWeb’s head of government services Dylan Browne“It sounds a bit cliche but timing is everything.” SpaceNews launched more details.

Satellite speed up: Earth imaging and geospatial data provider BlackSky, based in Herndon and Seattle, signed an agreement with New Zealand-based Rocket Lab to launch eight satellites before the end of 2021. BlackSky has worked with Rocket Lab since 2019. Last week, a BlackSky satellite flew to orbit on Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle in a rideshare mission from New Zealand. With the additional eight satellites that will be launched later this year, BlackSky expects to have a total of 14 in operation. Brian O’Toole, CEO of BlackSky, told SpaceNews that the eight satellites originally were planned to launch in 2022 but the company decided to speed things up.

Space alliance: Tysons-based satellite telecommunications company Omnispace entered into a strategic alliance with Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin to explore jointly developing a space-based 5G global network. In a release issued last week, the companies said that the proposed non-geostationary orbit satellite constellation’s 5G network would have the same capacity as leading mobile wireless phone carriers. It would offer worldwide connectivity to commercial and government customers, with “a wide range of civil and commercial applications,” including supporting defense communications, according to Virginia Business.

Yes, Virginia, there is another sub coming: Fairfax-based General Dynamics won a $2.4 billion — yep, with a b — contract from the Navy to build a 10th Virginia-class submarine. General Dynamics’ Electric Boat subsidiary in Connecticut will work with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding on the project, which was added on to a December 2019 contract for $22.2 billion, the largest ever awarded by the Navy. That contract called for the building of nine submarines, with the possibility of a 10th vessel, Virginia Business noted.

Getting his sea legs: Herndon-based ECS founder Roy Kapani acquired Systems Engineering Associates Corp. (SEACORP) through a private transaction. Middletown, R.I.-based SEACORP has over 400 employees focused on delivering software and hardware engineering, systems and test and evaluation support services to the Navy. Kapani has assumed responsibilities as chairman and CEO of SEACORP. “The technologies developed and delivered by SEACORP have been a personal interest of mine for many years. I am truly excited to be working with the SEACORP team and look forward to helping them grow the company and its people into the future,” Kapani said. GovConWire sailed in the story.

A new face: EYA Development, based in Bethesda, Md., acquired roughly half of the Graham Park Plaza shopping center fronting Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) in the Falls Church area for its conversion into a townhome community. Federal Realty Investment Trust sold the 8.3-acre parcel, the western portion of the shopping center formerly anchored by Loehmann’s and known as Loehmann’s Plaza, for $20.25 million, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Amazon’s housing push: Catherine Buell, head of community development at Amazon, talked to the Washington Business Journal about the company’s $2 billion affordable housing effort commitment to preserve and create more than 20,000 affordable homes in the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C., Puget Sound and Nashville regions. Buell, a Washington-area native and veteran of the affordable housing world, joined the tech giant in June and started speaking to nonprofits and developers almost immediately. “There are so many great affordable housing projects out there, but part of what we are looking to do with the Housing Equity Fund is identify opportunities that have scalable models that we can work through quickly,” Buell said.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but how about office space? New York City-based WeWork, the co-working and office space provider, announced last week that it will offer, for a limited period of time, free or discounted-rate office space in its centers to individuals and businesses relocating, returning, or expanding in Greater Washington, including in its Tysons location. WeWork is targeting companies that need less space than they had before the pandemic or want the ability to scale up or down depending on the pace of the recovery, as well as companies that want to provide their employees greater flexibility, reported the Washington Business Journal.

Consulting kudos: Forbes named Fairfax-based ICF, a global consulting and digital services provider, one of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms for the sixth straight year. InsideNoVa reported that the company was recommended for its work in three main categories: energy and environment; public sector, nonprofit and education; and sustainability. The annual list of the top 230 management consulting firms in the country was compiled by surveying over 7,500 partners and executives of management consultancies, as well as over 1,000 senior executives who worked with such firms over the last four years. Eleven additional Fairfax County-area companies made the list: Blue Ridge Partners, McLean; Booz Allen Hamilton, Tysons; Commonwealth Consultants, Tysons; Dean & Company, Tysons; DXC Technology, Tysons; GDIT, Falls Church area; Kelly, Anderson & Associates, Herndon; LeapPoint, Reston; Northrop Grumman, Falls Church area; Oasys International, Fairfax; and SAIC, Reston.

Get out your bowling shoes: Construction on the new Bowlero that will occupy part of the shuttered Macy’s in Tysons Galleria is scheduled to commence this week. A Bowlero representative said the company hopes to finish construction in late November. This will be Bowlero’s fifth location in the Washington, D.C., area, adding to other venues including Annandale, Arlington and Centreville. Tysons Reporter rolled in the story.

Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

Salient CRGT received a $482 million contract from the Department of Defense to extend development, deployment and management support for the agency’s specialized information-technology systems and warfighter networks. GovConWire

Accenture Federal Services won a $453 million prime contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs to modernize and improve GI Bill claims processing for veterans, service members and their dependents. Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Peraton secured a $360.4 million contract from the Air Force to analyze and address the safety risks of the branch’s intercontinental ballistic missile software. GovConWire

Portico, an Akima subsidiary, won a $43.7 million contract from the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group of the Air Force for renovation services and infrastructure repairs and modernization efforts at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. ExecutiveBiz

Featured business events

April 1 — How Diversity Makes Businesses Stronger. The NOVA Economic Development Alliance presents the next webinar in its Catalyst for Change, How Companies Turn Disruption into Success webinar series featuring Towanna Burroughs, Ph.D., president, CoachDiversity Institute; Alfranda “Al” Durr, CEO & president, ALD & Associates; and Sheila Dixon, Executive Director, Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce. Click here to register.

April 8 — Integrating Mobility in Public Spaces & Creating More Livable Communities. The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce presents keynote speakers from the U.S. and the Netherlands who will share opportunities and challenges regarding placemaking in a post-pandemic world. Click here to register.

May 6 — Tri-County Economic Development Update. The Committee for Dulles presents a conversation with representatives from Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties regarding economic development activity updates featuring presentations by David Kelley (Fairfax County EDA), Brandon Farris (Loudoun County), and Michele Weatherly (Prince William County) on economic development activities for the three jurisdictions. Click here to register.

May 18 — ExportON! Emerging Tech Trade Forum Northern Virginia, USA/ Ontario, Canada. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and the Province of Ontario, Canada presents a program for innovative tech companies on partnership opportunities between the Province of Ontario, Canada and Northern Virginia. Click here to register.

May 20 — Young Professionals Virtual Career Fair. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority presents a free virtual career fair for young professionals or recent (or soon-to-be) college graduates looking to launch their career at leading companies. Click here to register.

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.

Virginia measures to contain COVID-19

Starting Thursday, April 1, Governor Ralph Northam announced that certain sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate with additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.

The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued mitigation strategies like physical distancing, teleworking, and universal mask requirements. Key changes in the Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: All indoor and outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity. Indoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity or with a maximum of 500 people, an increase from the current cap of 250 people. Outdoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity, with no specific cap on the number of attendees. These venues were previously limited to 30 percent capacity or up to 1,000 attendees, whichever was fewer. 
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at recreational sporting events will increase from 25 to 100 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less for indoor settings, and from 250 to 500 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less for outdoor settings.
  • In-person graduation and commencement events: Governor Northam has issued preliminary guidance on safe in-person graduations and commencements, which included a cap of 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity for outdoor events, whichever is less. Events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees must wear masks and follow other guidelines and safety protocols to ensure proper distancing.

The full text of Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine is available here. Updated guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Virginia has now administered more than 3.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and is currently giving approximately 50,000 shots per day. Virginians are strongly encouraged to make sure they are pre-registered at vaccinate.virginia.gov, or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA, to ensure that the Virginia Department of Health has all the relevant information to reach out when individuals are eligible to schedule vaccination appointments.