FCEDA presents international business audience with reasons to consider a Fairfax County location

For the second consecutive year, the FCEDA waved the Fairfax County flag at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, the highest-profile event dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment in the United States.

The FCEDA wrapped up its participation at the three-day showcase (held at the Washington Hilton) by hosting an event for international firms to learn about the benefits of a Fairfax County location. The event highlighted those who know the topic best: companies that have grown and prospered thanks in part to their presence in the county.

 Among those taking center stage at the FCEDA’s “Power of Place” event on June 12 were (l to r) Juhi Naithani, FCEDA; Carolyn Eichler, Capgemini Government Solutions; Steve Tozier, EY; Karen Smaw, FCEDA; Benjamin Lin, Favor TechConsulting; Jan Mul, FCEDA. (Photo, FCEDA)

“Fairfax County: The Power of Place” was held on June 12 at the Tower Club in Tysons and featured speakers from Capgemini Government Solutions, EY and Favor TechConsulting. About 60 were in attendance, including members of  business communities from Finland, India, Israel, the Netherlands and Turkey, who were provided bus transportation to and from SelectUSA activities.

Among the speakers was Steve Tozier, who, in his job as head of location and investment advisory services for the eastern U.S. at EY, analyzes every detail, from proximity to suppliers and energy costs to workforce resources and even risks of natural disaster. In 2015, when he was tasked with determining the best location for EY’s expanded office project, he quickly moved Tysons and Fairfax County to the top of the list.

“The majority of our employee base either lives in Fairfax County or neighboring areas and 70 percent of that workforce would be in the ‘millennial’ category,” Tozier said. “The ecosystem here is really attractive to help us compete for, attract and retain that talented employee that we need to deliver our services. Also, the business climate is very friendly in Fairfax County and has been for a long time. As a public accounting firm, we spend a lot of time analyzing the tax landscape and Northern Virginia as a whole — and Fairfax County, specifically — have very favorable stories to tell regarding those indicators.”

Favor TechConsulting COO Benjamin Lin praised the FCEDA for its work coordinating his company’s physical expansion within the county and aiding marketing efforts, helping a firm heavily engaged with the government in health IT and intelligence to dramatically increase its presence in Tysons.

“Fairfax County really helped us grow,” Lin said. “In 2016, we had $27 million in revenue. In 2018 it was $110 million. Some of the intangibles have been really beneficial, like the FCEDA helping us coordinate with the Virginia Jobs Program and facilitating a ribbon-cutting at which the Virginia governor came out to essentially help us co-host. That was a great marketing tool to brand FTC as an up-and-coming government contractor and small business to watch in the area.”

More than 400 international firms have a presence in Fairfax County. The FCEDA has offices in Bangalore/Mumbai, Berlin, London, Seoul and Tel Aviv to work with companies from those areas interested in the U.S. market. The FCEDA also has an office in Los Angeles.

More than a token event: Also on June 12, the FCEDA and the Chamber of Digital Commerce co-hosted a free discussion and networking event entitled “Security Tokens 101: Blockchain-Based Investing in Growing Businesses.”

“We wanted to provide education from experts who have a good grasp on this developing industry,” said Dan Spuller, the chamber’s director of member services who moderated the lively panel discussion. About 70 turned out for the program.

Panelists for “Security Tokens 101” included (l to r) Ben DiScipio, Fundopolis; David Levine, Indeco; Barbara Jones, Greenberg Traurig; Bennett Moore, RSM US; and moderator Dan Spuller from the Chamber of Digital Commerce. (Photo, FCEDA)

“Unlike ICOs (initial coin offerings), STOs (security token offerings are a regulated way to raise money,” Spuller explained. “Small businesses are always looking for unique ways to raise funds. I think security token offerings are a great way for companies to raise money and get involved in the blockchain ecosystem as a whole.”

Experts, including Ben DiScipio, chief strategy officer at Fundopolis, Barbara Jones, co-chair of the blockchain and cryptocurrency group at the Greenberg Traurig law firm; David Levine, CEO of Reston-based Indeco; and Bennett Moore, lead digital-asset technical resource for RSM US, conceded that the jury is still out but that the future looks promising for security tokens.

DiScipio discussed several benefits, including transparency, the ability to automate payments and, importantly, the ability to greatly reduce the cost and “friction” in capital markets.

“I think there are huge benefits,” DiScipio said. “Right now, the Fortune 500 have the money to deal with capital markets. Small businesses that are looking to merge or start up or just small brick-and-mortars in our communities don’t have the kind of money to put into capital markets.”

Jones, a McLean native, said it’s important for individuals to consider what stage their company is in before determining whether to use security tokens.

“Go slow. Make sure you have good advisors, both on legal side, on the tax side and on the accounting side,” she advised. “There are a whole lot of regulations that need to be considered. But blockchain is not going away. It’s going to be here and continue to evolve. It’s transforming every aspect of our business and industry and, ultimately, our personal lives. So it’s very exciting technology.”

Co/Lab’s environment-friendly building in Merrifield. (Photo, Co/Lab)

Building for the future: How tech-savvy is Co/Lab? An overhead drone cut the ribbon on June 13 when general contractor HITT Construction officially opened its new showcase space dedicated to researching and testing emerging materials and technology.

The building in Merrifield, designed by William McDonough & Partners, is the first in Virginia to be built with Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), one of multiple environment-friendly features that Co/Lab plans to integrate thanks to concepts including recycled products, solar energy and organically-produced building materials.

Award winners and special recognitions: Fairfax County businesses are winning all sorts of honors these days and E-Bird Extra toots a few of those  horns:

  • A dashing display: The Food and Drug Administration partnered with Fairfax-based Salient CRGT to create a data dashboard designed to increase transparency, accountability and accessibility. On June 11 at the National Press Club in D.C., the FDA received a FedHealthIT Innovation Award for those efforts.
  • Twice is nice: 3Pillar Global picked up two acknowledgements of excellence. The Fairfax-based designer of innovative software was named Outsourcing Development Services Firm of the Year at the 2019 CODiE Awards, presented by the Software and Information Industry Association and was cited as a “strong performer” in a new report from Forrester, a leading research and advisory firm.
  • Key Cogs: Peraton of Herndon received the James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award from the Defense Security Service. Peraton supports NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center through delivery of vital communications and data-relay services.