Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for May 25, 2021: Silver Line tracking, Beanstalk growing

Staying on track: Metro’s Silver Line Phase 2 remains on track to open in the first quarter of 2022, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said. In an update on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project issued on May 17, the agency said it is “confident” that construction will be finished “around Labor Day,” at which point the long-delayed $2.8 billion project will finally be handed off to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). If all goes at projected the it will take five months between when Metro receives the project and when Silver Line Phase 2 and its six stations — Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Dulles Airport, Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn — would officially open early in 2022. Reston Now kept us on track with this update, including word that a a 300-plus glass panel windscreen has been finished at the Dulles Airport Metro Station, and the airport station’s pedestrian tunnel now has moving sidewalks and an exhibit showing the history of the Dulles area.

Mike, Jack and the Beanstalk: Beanstalk, an indoor vertical hydroponic farm in Fairfax County, plans to expand its operation, investing $2 million and creating 29 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday. Owners Mike and Jack Ross, brothers from Alexandria, started the business in 2018 and sell fresh salad mixes and fresh herbs to grocery stores and at farmers’ markets. The new facility in the Town of Herndon will produce specialty herbs and pesticide-free leafy greens year-round with its proprietary hydroponic technology. “Being ‘Virginia Grown’ ourselves, we are excited to be bringing new technology to the industry and new jobs to our home state,” Mike Ross said. Virginia Business has more, and read the FCEDA release.

The next big thing: “Investing in Richmond Highway,” a May 19 webinar presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Fairfax County and Bisnow drew nearly 200 attendees to learn about opportunities to develop and build along Richmond Highway between the Capital Beltway and Fort Belvoir — and how county comprehensive plan changes, an economic incentive program and investments in bus-rapid transit and other transportation improvements can accelerate decision-making by investors. This Alexandria Living lays out the county’s vision for the corridor and the webinar panelists who highlighted the opportunities and incentives for businesses interested in being early investors in the transformation of the corridor.

Data hub debut: Amazon Web Services, which has its East Coast headquarters in Herndon, will shape one of the degrees that Howard University plans to offer with a hub for applied data sciences that it is standing up. The partnership between Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary and the Washington, D.C.-based historically Black university also promises to generate internships and career pathways for students. The collaboration will boost Howard’s presence in STEM fields, a central goal announced a few years ago, while providing students the skills they will need to address systemic challenges in other areas. The master’s data sciences degree program will also provide Amazon access to a potentially diverse candidate pool, which in the long run could help the company reach its workforce equity goals, reported the Washington Business Journal.

Defensive strategizing: NetAbstraction, a Chantilly-based cybersecurity company that helps minimize an enterprise’s network profile, closed on a $9 million Series A round led by AllegisCyber Capital. NetAbstraction aims to protect company’s critical business activities by lowering its cyber profile on the Internet. “At a time when the attack surface of the average enterprise keeps growing, NetAbstraction enables companies to shift their footprint, making it harder for adversaries to find and target their operations,” said Spencer Tall, managing director of AllegisCyber Capital. “This is a powerful privacy and defensive strategy.” Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Another round: Blue Ridge Networks, a Chantilly-based cybersecurity company, announced that it closed on an investment round. The company said the investment came from a “U.S. private equity fund” and the company’s previous investors. “Blue Ridge’s solutions deliver zero-trust cybersecurity protection designed to prevent breaches from occurring in the first place,” stated John Higginbotham, chairman and CEO of Blue Ridge. “The imperative to harden networks and systems has never been more obvious given the rash of egregious breaches of critical energy sector infrastructure and other sensitive networks, resulting in massive economic losses, eroding national security, and diminishing public safety. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Teaming up: Fairfax-based Salient CRGT and Alexandria-based Digital Consultants formed a mentor protégé joint venture, as part of the Small Business Administration’s mentor-protégé program. The new organization will be known as Digital Salient Solutions and will target defense contracts. Salient CRGT goes to market with health, data analytics, cloud, agile software, cybersecurity and infrastructure solutions. Digital Consultants provides IT, engineering and operations support as well as audiovisual systems design, engineering, installation and operations, cybersecurity, data management and mission systems training support, according to Washington Technology.

Equity empowerment: MITRE, based in Tysons and Bedford, Mass., proposed a comprehensive draft national strategy for digital health focusing on scaling healthcare services and addressing disparities in access. Its strategic goals, aimed at revolutionizing the health and wellbeing of the public, are intended to “level the playing field around access, technology and care for all people,” said MITRE Chief Medical and Technology Officer Dr. Jay Schnitzer. “The pandemic also laid bare the health inequities faced by many populations and amplified the risks of further exacerbating the digital divide.” The organization noted that COVID-19 could act as an inflection point to address deep-rooted health disparities – but without action, those disparities could be exacerbated. Healthcare IT News has more. And see a FCEDA Q&A with Dr. Jay Schnitzer by clicking here.

Satellite connection: Tysons-based Iridium Communications made a strategic investment in DDK Positioning, an Aberdeen, Scotland-based provider of enhanced Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) accuracy solutions. DDK uses the Iridium network to provide global precision positioning services that can augment GNSS constellations. According to a report published by the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, augmentation services like those offered by DDK will account for $76.5 billion in global GNSS market revenue by 2029, while the global GNSS downstream market, including services delivered and hardware devices, is estimated to reach $382 billion, citybizlist reported.

Vetting Vet tech: Tysons-based Booz Allen Hamilton won a five-year, $1.1 billion — yep, with a b — contract to support the Department of Veterans Affairs in benefits processing, management and delivery efforts. The company will help with VA’s Benefits Integration initiative, which focuses on reusing and expanding technologies used for the Veterans Benefits Management System. The program aims to reduce the technology footprint of the Veterans Benefits Administration and National Cemetery Administration, according to GovConWire.

Five stars: Herndon-headquartered Serco North America earned the designation VETS Indexes 5 Star Employer as part of the 2021 VETS Indexes Employer Awards. The designation recognizes Serco’s commitment to recruiting, hiring, retaining, developing and supporting veteran employees, military spouses and others in the military community. “We take pride in providing support networks and opportunities that cater specifically to the needs of service members, veterans, and military spouses to ensure a successful career journey at Serco,” commented Tom Watson, senior vice president of Serco’s Defense Services Group and executive sponsor of sercoVets. ExecutiveGov has more.

Health talk: A Fairfax Station resident, Elizabeth Tikoyan, created an app called Healp that allows people with the same health conditions to speak to each other one-on-one and ask questions about treatments, as well as crowdsource info on more common afflictions. The app currently has 5,000 users from 72 countries. The company is headquartered in Fairfax, where about half of the team is based. Technical.ly DC covered the story of the app’s development.

 Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

BAE Systems secured a $325.5 million contract from the Defense Logistics Agency to supply Global Positioning System satellite receiver equipment for the U.S. military and allies. SpaceNews

Alion Science and Technology received a $285 million task order with a 48-month period of performance for engineering, integration, modeling and simulation, and cybersecurity for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division. citybizlist

Parsons Corp. won a $185 million U.S. Space Force contract for information technology and engineering services. SpaceNews

Peraton won a five-year, $36.7 million contract from the Defense Information Systems Agency for electromagnetic spectrum services. ExecutiveBiz

Raft received two contracts to help the Air Force create data pipelines to support hardware and software development programs. ExecutiveBiz

Featured business events

May 26 — Leading in The New Reality and Lessons Learned from a Crisis. The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce presents a webinar featuring Karen Cleveland, president and CEO of Leadership Fairfax. The webinar is part of the Business Education Series sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Click here to register.

June 10 – 11, June 14-16 — 7th Annual Wharton Dc Innovation Summit.  With the FCEDA as the prime sponsor, the Wharton Club of DC is again holding the 2021 Wharton DC Innovation Summit: Innovation Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World using a virtual format. This year’s keynote and keynote panel speakers include Alex Iams, EVP, FCEDA. Click here to register.

June 17 — Parallel Summit: The Institutional Case for Digital Assets. The Digital Chamber of Commerce presents a webinar event sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority featuring Michael Saylor, chairman, president and CEO of Tysons-based MicroStrategy, as the headline presenter. Click here to register. Once registered on the ParallelSummit.io community site, be sure to RSVP using the link on the homepage. If already registered, please use your existing credentials to log in and RSVP using the link.

June 24 — Finding Success in Mentor-Protégé Teaming Agreements. The George Mason University Center for Government Contracting, part of the School of Business, presents a webinar focusing on how government and business are approaching an evolving procurement environment. The webinar will include virtual networking. Click here to register. This webinar is the third and final part of the New Directions in Federal Spending & Contracting series sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

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.

Governor Northam Lifts Mask Mandate to Align with CDC Guidance, Announces Virginia to End COVID-19 Mitigation Measures on May 28

On May 14 Governor Ralph Northam lifted Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Governor Northam also announced that Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28, two weeks earlier than planned. The updates to Virginia’s mask policy are reflected in amendments to Executive Order Seventy-Two and will become effective at midnight tonight along with previously announced changes to mitigation measures.

Governor Northam made the announcement in a new video message.

Virginia is able to take these steps as a result of increasing vaccination rates, dramatically declining COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and statewide test positivity rate, and revised federal guidelines.

The state of emergency in Virginia will remain in place at least through June 30 to provide flexibility for local government and support ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Governor Northam will take executive action to ensure individuals have the option to wear masks up to and after that date. Masks will continue to be required in K-12 public schools, given low rates of vaccination among children.

Virginia has administered nearly 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. More than 4 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, representing over 63 percent of Virginia’s adult population. Governor Northam has said he remains confident the Commonwealth will meet President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.

The full text of Seventh Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, which took effect on May 15, can be found here.

The full text of Executive Order Seventy-Nine, which takes effect on Friday, May 28, can be found here.

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.