Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for Nov. 24, 2020

(Rendering courtesy of Taubman Centers)

The future for Fair Oaks, and a future day on the slopes in Lorton: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Fair Oaks Plan Amendment, a first step in creating a vision for Fair Oaks Mall that aims to transform the shopping center’s parking lots into a walkable, mixed-use town center with businesses, hotels, residential, community space, urban parks — and of course retail stores. Click here to read more about the Fair Oaks Plan Amendment. The Board of Supervisors also approved an interim agreement with a company that wants to build one of the largest indoor ski facilities in the world in Lorton. The Alpine-X project, called Fairfax Peak, will transform the closed portion of the Interstate 95 Lorton landfill into an indoor ski facility. Lorton Patch has a quick snow-and-tell about the Alpine-X plan.

A fast bunch of techies: Ten Fairfax County-area based tech companies made Deloitte’s 2020 Technology Fast 500 list: Tysons-based Urgently, which came in at no. 67; Centripetal Communications, Herndon, no. 124; RIVA Solutions, Tysons, no. 168; Ridgeline International, Tysons, no. 204; Binary Fountain, Tysons, no. 206; GTT Communications, Tysons, no. 413; Perfecta, Springfield, no. 426; DocASAP, Herndon, no. 434; Research Innovations, Alexandria area, no. 446; and KLDiscovery, Tysons, no. 459. Three more Northern Virginia-based companies made the list: HUNGRY Marketplace,  Arlington, no. 18; Gravy Analytics, Dulles, 50; and Evolent Health, Arlington, no. 402. “This report is another reminder that the greater Washington area has become a leading center for technology and innovation,” Steve Balistreri, Deloitte’s technology, media and telecommunications industry leader for Greater Washington, according to Virginia Business.

Sounding the Alarm for apprenticeship opportunities: Tysons-based Alarm.com wrapped up the first state-sponsored apprenticeship program for a tech company in Virginia. It included 10 weeks of technical instruction at Northern Virginia Community College, and nine months of on-the-job training. Most of those in its apprenticeship program were hired for full-time jobs. Alarm.com was among first grants awarded under the GO Virginia economic development initiative, which covered two-thirds of the company’s certification costs for its apprentices. With more than 50,000 currently unfilled technology-related jobs in Northern Virginia, apprenticeships can also be a completive advantage for companies that are able to build that needed talent in-house, reported WTOP.

The goal is bigger margins: MarginEdge, a Fairfax-based restaurant-management platform, raised $4 million in new funding, even as the restaurant industry reels from the continued Covid-19 pandemic. The latest financing was led by Osage Venture Partners, and also included backing from previous investors and a new investment from Relish Works, which is backed by food distributor Gordon Food Service. MarginEdge has now raised a total of $15 million. “From understanding food costs with changing supply chain dynamics, to measuring menu costs and new customer preferences, daily – we help our clients do more with less, which is unfortunately what most in our industry are faced with right now,” said Bo Davis, CEO and founder of MarginEdge. The company’s technology is used by 1,500 restaurants, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Perfect Match for Thompson: Reston-based Thompson Hospitality, a retail and facilities and management company and one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the nation, acquired Matchbox Food Group as that casual-dining chain emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Thompson Hospitality in 2018 made a $11 million investment in the Washington, D.C.-based Matchbox, a deal that had included an unexercised purchase option. Warren Thompson, president and chairman of Thompson Hospitality, said in a statement: “I want to extend our gratitude to the Matchbox and Thompson Hospitality teams, who continued to believe in the company and worked diligently to help this beloved restaurant brand successfully and swiftly emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a stronger long-term position,” reported Nation’s Restaurant News.

Taking it all in stride: K12, the Herndon-based online education company that has experienced massive growth this year with the emphasis in virtual learning, is changing its name to Stride. The company currently has 165,000 students — from kindergarten through 12th grade — enrolled in its online and hybrid offerings. The corporate name change will become effective on Dec. 16. “A great education doesn’t stop at high school graduation,” Nate Davis, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement about the name change. “The Stride brand recognizes that, as a company, we are no longer limited by the boundaries of the K-12 market, and that we are dedicated to supporting lifelong learning,” reported Virginia Business. Meantime, K12 intends to buy Ohio-based Tech Elevator, a provider of tech skills training, and Michigan-based MedCerts, which offers online career certification training. The company is paying $23.5 million for Tech Elevator and $70 million plus possible earn-outs for MedCerts, with both deals expected to close in mid-2021. Potomac Tech Wire picked up releases about the Tech Elevator and MedCerts deals.

Healthy snack grab: Mars, the McLean-based food, pet care and candy business, will acquire Kind North America, maker of Kind bars and one of the nation’s largest healthy snack food companies. The move builds on a partnership Mars and New York-based Kind formed in 2017, when Mars bought a minority stake in Kind and began working to distribute Kind bars and its other products to the international market. This acquisition will bring Kind North America and Kind International under one umbrella that operates independently within the Mars portfolio. The New York Times cited sources who said the deal values Kind at $5 billion. Washington Business Journal gave us a taste of the deal.

Amazon-ian donations: Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Arlington County, announced it will donate $9 million in grants to nonprofits in the Northern Virginia and Washington area. The grants include $3 million to four legal service providers to help support families in the Virginia and D.C. region; and $1 million to organizations that are advancing the cause of racial equity and community empowerment. In addition, $1 million will support community health facilities; $500,000 to community organizations that will help advance economic opportunity through literacy programs and job training; and $3.5 million for community organizations across the region that support small businesses, military families, the environment, the arts — and more. An additional $3.5 million will be distributed to organizations throughout the region between now and the beginning of 2021, including to organizations that support veterans and military families, local environmental and sustainability programs, and events and institutions throughout the region that build community, help small businesses and drive tourism, InsideNoVa reported.

Investing in the future: Bank of America is donating $1 million to Northern Virginia Community College as part of the company’s larger initiative to help communities suffering from economic disruption caused by Covid-19 and racial inequality. The community college was one of 21 higher education institutions to receive a portion of a total of $25 million from the bank, part of a larger $1 billion, four-year commitment announced over the summer. “NOVA is committed to ensuring that every student achieves and every community prospers, and with this investment, we will connect even more students to in-demand workforce pathways that lead to meaningful, sustaining careers, ensuring that the full diversity of our community is supported with the resources they need to achieve,” said Anne Kress, NVCC president. “We thank Bank of America for this grant and for their dedication to closing income and opportunity gaps,” reported the Washington Business Journal in an article for subscribers.

They’ve got this name change cornered: The Tysons Corner Metro Station will be renamed “Tysons” following a vote of the Metro Board of Directors. In Fairfax County, elected officials and the Tysons Partnership have been trying to drop the “Corner” as part of a branding effort to make the name fit closer to its evolution from a rural crossroads to the largest suburban commercial district in the Washington area and the largest business district in Virginia. The U.S. Postal Service dropped the “Corner” in 2011 and the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015, reported DCist.

Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

SAIC won a $973 million task order from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to support the agency’s cornerstone system for identifying travelers and cargo that present a potential security threat. ExecutiveBiz

Parsons Corporation received a $50 million contract from Houston Airports to support infrastructure projects and other initiatives related to the effective management of capital renewal and operations and maintenance services. InsideNoVa

Customer Value Partners scored a contract from the Department of Homeland Security to provide website and multimedia services for the Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center. Intelligence Community News

Featured business events

December 3 — Securing the Remote Workforce and Essential Government Services. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in partnership with the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance presents a free webinar that will feature industry experts from Microsoft, Forescout Technologies, Ampcus Cyber and Easy Dynamics, and chief information security officers from Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the city of Alexandria. Click here to register.

December 3 — Local Sourcing, Creative Dining: How Field & Main Thrives Through Community Focus. How Field & Main, a restaurant in Fauquier County, has pivoted to serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the “Catalyst for Change” webinar series presented by the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance. Click here to register.

December 8 — Government Contracting in a Changed World. George Mason University Center for Government Contracting and Defense Acquisition University present a virtual conference, with this module focusing on operations. Click here to register.

December 8-9 — InnoTech: the international broadcast edition for innovation, HLS & cyber technologies. The Fairfax County EDA is a sponsor of this virtual cyber and homeland security conference from Israel. It will include expert presentations and panels, as well as a startup competition, and will host senior officials from government and defense organizations, including police, security and intelligence agencies. The event will also host leading figures from Israeli and global defense industries, tech companies, and hundreds of start-ups. Click here to register.

December 10 — Best Workplaces for Commuters. The Dulles Area Transportation Association presents a free webinar. Watch it to see if your company qualifies for the “Best Workplaces for Commuters” designation. 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.

Forward Virginia Phase 3 reopening guidelines: Fairfax County began the third phase of re-opening businesses on July 1. The Forward Virginia plan provides guidelines that all businesses must follow. Residents are still advised that they are “safer at home.” Click here to find out the updated guidelines.

Virginia sets up new statewide measures to contain COVID-19

The following measures took effect at midnight on Sunday, November 15 statewide in Virginia, according to an announcement by Governor Ralph Northam:

  • Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.
  • Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
  • Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
  • On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.

Governor Northam shared a new video to update Virginians on the additional steps the Commonwealth is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which is available here. Find out more by clicking here.