Feb. 17 E-Bird newsletter: Reston Station expansion unveiled, Epirus is latest area unicorn, Sheeva.AI chooses Tysons HQ

Leaning into another Reston landmark: Comstock Companies filed plans with Fairfax County for a new phase of development on 16 acres south of Dulles Toll Road and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. There the developer hopes to build a six-tower, 2-million-square-foot project complementing its Reston Station buildings on the opposite side of the highway, said Tim Steffan, executive vice president of Comstock, told the Washington Business Journal. The plan is to build 1.28 million square feet of office space, 469 residential units, a 163,000-square-foot hotel, 30,000 square feet of retail and a 12,000-square-foot childcare center across the property. Two 7-story residential buildings would sit to the south along Sunrise Valley Drive, while the three office buildings, one 22 stories and 503,000 square feet and two at 18 stories and 397,000 square feet, would rise along Wiehle Avenue, each with ground-floor retail. The 16-story hotel would front the toll road. The largest building, the 340-foot-tall One Commerce, features a striking leaning appearance that complements the trapezoid-shaped 1900 Reston Metro Plaza to the north. Both buildings were designed by the late architect Helmut Jahn.

NOVA’s talent pool was key: Sheeva.AI, which develops technology to enable in-car payments and automation for services such as fuel, charging, toll payment, parking and curbside pick-up, established its new corporate headquarters in Tysons. The company also opened an office in the Detroit metro area. These offices are in addition to Sheeva.AI’s operations in New Delhi, India and Turin, Italy, Digital Journal reported. At the corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Sheeva.AI will consolidate and support the company’s product and strategic operations. “The decision to expand our office presence in Northern Virginia and Detroit regions was a logical next step for us,” said Evgeny Klochikhin, Sheeva.AI’s founder and CEO. “A majority of our executive team was already based in Northern Virginia. The region has an excellent pool of talent across all of our business areas.”

Look, another unicorn here: Technology startup Epirus, which is based in Los Angeles and maintains its east coast headquarters in Tysons, raised $200 million in a private transaction that lifts its valuation to $1.35 billion, the company told Reuters. This vaulted the company to coveted “unicorn” status, dot.LA reported. Epirus is joining the roughly 1,000 startups around the world that have valuations higher than $1 billion, a group that includes Herndon-based Expel, Tysons-based ID.me and Arlington-based Interos. Epirus develops solid-state, software-defined directed energy systems that enable counter-electronics effects and power management solutions to optimize power efficiency in defense and commercial applications. Its products include directed-energy weapons that can take down drones. The cash infusion comes as the U.S. scrambles to develop countermeasures against widely available commercial drones that military and law-enforcement officials say pose mounting tactical threats to everything from military bases and refineries to mass gatherings like last Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl, Reuters noted.

Black-owned business hub: Here’s a topical item for Black History Month: the Washington, D.C., metro area ranked no. 2 in the nation for Black-owned businesses, according to LendingTree. Overall, about 7.7 percent of businesses in the region have Black owners. To create the rankings, LendingTree analyzed data from 50 metro areas from the 2020 U.S. Census Annual Business Survey. With those numbers, LendingTree determined the number of Black-owned businesses in the area compared to the total amount of businesses. Ownership was considered anyone with a stake larger than 50 percent in a company’s stock of equity. Only the Fayetteville, N.C., region, had a higher percentage of Black-owned businesses than our region. Technical.ly/DC has more.

Peraton and DHS meet in the cloud: Herndon-based Peraton won a 10-year, $2.69 billion contract from the Department of Homeland Security for assistance with data-center and cloud-optimization efforts. Under the contract, Peraton subsidiary Perspecta Engineering will facilitate and run the DHS’ hybrid-computing environment through a range of services, Virginia Business reported.

Taking care of its no. 1 asset: Tysons-based software solutions company B&A created an employee-outreach program last year called B&A Cares to “make people feel valued and connected” during the pandemic, Virginia Business reported. The company brought on board a registered counselor to talk with employees regularly since working at home was isolating and tough for many, especially with the added stress of COVID restrictions and risks. The company also sent care packages containing Omaha Steaks family meals, cheese boards, stress balls, company swag and the like. Virtual get-togethers helped maintain a social connection between employees as well. “We realized that a lot of folks were struggling with what was going on in the country and the world,” said Jonathan Evans, president and CEO of B&A, which has 46 employees in Virginia and more than 100 nationwide. “We wanted to make sure we were taking care of our no. 1 asset.”

NextNav stop, the metaverse: Tysons-based geolocation company NextNav partnered with New York City-based echo3D, a cloud platform focused on storage and streaming of 3D, augmented reality and virtual reality content. NextNav will provide echo3D developers with 3D location data needed to build immersive AR and VR content on top of the physical world (the “metaverse”), reported Geospatial World. “Our partnership with echo3D enables developers to build immersive experiences, games, and applications that reflect our real world,” said Dan Hight, NextNav VP of Business Development and Partnerships. “As we look ahead toward the building of the metaverse, our collaboration with echo3D marks a key development in enabling the digital layer that will soon exist on top of our physical world.”

Inova office expansion: Falls Church area-based Inova Health System signed a lease at 8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive in Merrifield near its flagship hospital. There, Inova will take over 48,000 square feet in two of the building’s eight floors to open four medical practices, according to the Washington Business Journal. The clinics will house pediatric rehabilitation and cardiology services, and pre- and post-operative evaluations and consultations. It’s slated to open throughout 2022 as construction is completed.

Addressing health-care worker shortages: Fairfax-based George Mason University established The Mason Center for the Health Workforce to address the shortage and immediate need for health-care workers in Virginia. It will serve as a technical-assistance center for health-workforce research, program evaluation, planning and analysis for government agencies, academic entities and professional organizations. “A competent health workforce is a critical asset for fielding essential health/public health services in all communities,” said PJ Maddox, chair of George Mason University’s Department of Health Administration and Policy. She will co-direct the center. Virginia Business has more.

Nextversity: Connected DMV is teaming up with community colleges across the Washington region to channel low-income Black and Brown students into high-paying professional services jobs that ramp up the regional talent pool. The initiative launched by the local nonprofit that focuses on regional growth is called Nextversity. The three-year program will guide community college graduates through learning the professional skills and training needed for jobs in consulting, hospitality, finance and law, roles that otherwise typically require four-year degrees, networking, a bolstered resume and other resources they may not have access to. The pilot starts next year, when a cohort of 30 graduates will be selected from Northern Virginia and Prince George’s community colleges, according to the Washington Business Journal. Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Victor Hoskins is a Connected DMV trustee and co-chair of the Regional Economic Development Strategy Steering Committee.

New ride: Tysons-based Capital Automotive Real Estate Services is trading hands in a $3.8 billion deal, the Washington Business Journal reported. Investment firm Ares Management Corp. closed a deal to buy the company from a Brookfield private real estate fund using money managed by its alternative credit and real estate groups. Capital Automotive’s portfolio includes more than 250 real estate assets structured as triple-net leases, and it specializes in providing financing to auto dealers for acquiring new locations or upgrading facilities.

New call: Fairfax-based TEOCO, which provides software and technology to telecommunications companies, acquired Software Synergy Inc. (SSI), a networking software firm based in New Jersey. SSI’s technology is used to manage the toll-free routing of calls. “As we look to strengthen TEOCO’s presence in the North American market, we are proud of our strategic acquisition of SSI to enhance our routing solutions portfolio,” said Atul Jain, founder and CEO of TEOCO. Capacity has more.

Medtech acquisition: Device security firm Forescout Technologies, a U.S.-Israeli company with a presence in Tysons, acquired Israel-based healthcare cybersecurity firm CyberMDX, which provides solutions to protect medical devices and clinical networks. Forescout says the acquisition will strengthen its support for connected devices, reported SecurityWeek.

Big honor for the Petite Eats founder: Erinn Roth, CEO and owner of the soon-to-open Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats in Tysons was noted as one of “Alexandria’s Most Inspiring Women of 2022” by VIP Alexandria. Roth is also the focus of the Entrepreneur Spotlight segment at the FCEDA’s upcoming Entrepreneurship 101 webinar on March 1. Click here to find out more.

Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

General Dynamics Information Technology received a $162 million contract to bring an identity management solution into production for the Defense Information Systems Agency. Washington Technology.

Leidos secured a $200 million contract to provide technical and engineering services to U.S. Pacific Air Forces Command to support control, communications, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and operations activity. GovConWire

Northrop Grumman received a $33.3 million follow-on contract from NASA to continue supporting the space agency’s satellite mission investigating the effects of climate change on Earth. ExecutiveBiz

NCI Information Systems and IntelliBridge obtained a five-year, $13.4 million contract from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division for fiber-optic networking support services. Seapower

Spire Global won a $8 million contract from the National Oceanographic and Oceanic Administration for space-based radio occultation data for use in operational weather forecasts. citybiz

Featured business events

February 23 — Funding for Virginia Startups and Growing Companies. Are you the owner or part of a startup and growing company that is looking for funding and support to expand? Join the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and the Northern Virginia Technology Council Digital Transformation Community for this free virtual event. Our expert panelists will tell participants about grants available to tech companies to commercialize their products, grow their international sales and fund technical research and development, and we will provide information on free resources to Virginia companies to build their business. Click here to register.

February 23 — All Things COVID – Impact, Trends, and Concerns. Presented by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce this event features Dr. Craig Cheifetz, INOVA’s vice president for Corporate Health and Premium Services, who will discuss “All Things COVID” –  community concerns, workplace trends, corporate impact, mental and physical impact, employees and teams. Click here to register. This event is part of the chamber’s Business Education Series sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

February 24 — Small Business Conference. Presented by the Society of American Military Engineers, D.C., this event brings together state, local and federal agencies and businesses throughout the Washington area to network, discuss upcoming contracting opportunities and connect with potential teaming partners. Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Victor Hoskins will be among the panelists in a discussion about regional economic development. The conference will be held at Capital One Hall in Tysons. Click here to register.

March 1 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting A Business in Fairfax County. Presented by 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, this webinar will provide the business fundamentals needed to successfully start a business. The Entrepreneurial Spotlight this session will feature Chef Errin Roth, a veteran who is founder and owner of Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats, the soon-to-open patisserie and cafe in the PenFed building in Tysons. It started as Ms. Jo’s Petite Sweets, a dessert business out of a commercial kitchen in Lorton and expanded to include corporate catering. Roth appeared on five episodes of the FOX show “Crime Scene Kitchen” in 2021. Click here to register.

March 3 — Choosing a Business Space in Fairfax County. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Fairfax County Land Development Services, this free webinar will focus on the important considerations you need to know when choosing the best space for your small business. 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. 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.