February 2, 2023, E-News: Celebrating Black History Month + Weekly Business News Digest

Recognizing Black Businesses Making a Difference

To kick off Black History Month, Virginia Business recognized a reader-nominated group of some of the state’s most accomplished Black executives, including two leaders from Fairfax County-based companies: Fred Thompson, Jr., chief administrative officer of Reston-based Thompson Hospitality, and co-founder, Opportunity Scholars and the Global Good Fund; and Kevin M. Wideman, CEO, Chantilly-based Koniag Government Services. In addition, Warren Thompson, founder, president and chairman of Reston-based Thompson Hospitality ranked on the Virginia Business Virginia Black Leaders Hall of Fame list, which celebrates outstanding careers and general excellence in business leadership.

Black-owned businesses generate more than $1.8 billion in annual revenue and employ more than 11,000 people in Fairfax County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Thompson Hospitality and Koniag Government Services are among the more than 600 Black-owned employer firms that call Fairfax County home. There are a total of 639 Black-owned businesses with payrolls in Fairfax County, the highest number of any locality in Virginia, according to the most recent Annual Business Survey published by the Census Bureau.

To celebrate Black History Month, FCEDA will be highlighting some of our Black business leaders who are making a difference in our community each week during February. This week we are featuring a conversation with Warren Thompson, founder, president and chairman of Thompson Hospitality:

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Weekly Business News Digest

Supporting Herndon’s economic growth: The George Mason Enterprise Center has opened in Office Evolution, a shared office space, at 205 Van Buren Street in Herndon to support small and emerging businesses in an effort to support Herndon’s economic growth, FFXnow reported. A ribbon cutting is slated for March 16, though the center has already begun providing services. The town is the fifth locality to partner with the George Mason University center, which offers services like business advisory sessions, educational workshops, and training on other federal and state programs.

Startups to watch: Two Fairfax County-based companies: RegScale (Tysons) and Zephyr AI (Fairfax), out of 10 companies, ranked among Washington Business Journal’s annual list ofStartups to Watch.” these 10 local startups collectively symbolize the region’s broader economic storyline and some new normals [sic], including venture capital that’s branched beyond Silicon Valley and the Big Apple and a hybrid workforce that values mission-driven work and autonomy over the status quo,” according to the Journal.

Short, carbon-free flights: Air taxis could generate up to $16 billion in new business in Virginia and carry as many as 66 million passengers by 2045, according to a newly released economic impact study, reported Virginia Business. The report forecasts short, carbon-free flights connecting cities, suburbs and rural areas, and also examines the burgeoning advanced air mobility (AAM) industry. “AAM is poised to boost Virginia’s economy while creating thousands of high-paying jobs for a workforce that is increasingly becoming more technology-focused as we expand Virginia’s leadership in the aerospace and drone industry to include multi-dimensional mobility that will attract manufacturers and investment from around the country,” said Bob Stolle, CEO and president of Herndon-based VIPC, the nonprofit, startup-funding arm of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority.

Sparkling hotel option: Tysons-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings revealed Spark by Hilton, a new “premium economy lodging option” designed to appeal to price-conscious consumers without sacrificing consistency. The 19th flag in the company’s portfolio will be a conversion-only brand, priced below Hilton’s midscale Tru by Hilton brand, reported the Washington Business Journal in an article for subscribers. “We started looking at what travelers were doing as they hit the roads again after a long period away, and what we saw was… they were looking to really maximize their dollar as they hit the road and went back out to see family and friends or experience cities that they had not been to before,” said Alissa Klees, Spark by Hilton’s brand leader. “When we looked at the price point that travelers were looking at, what we realized, or what we saw, was that there was this great opportunity that Hilton wasn’t serving today.”

Advancing autonomous technologies: Herndon-based LinQuest, a technology provider to the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, acquired Ohio-based Hellebore Consulting, a developer of software focusing on security systems and air defense. “This partnership with the Hellebore team will help enable our customers to advance the state-of-the-art in autonomous technologies,” said Greg Young, president and CEO of LinQuest. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Actively looking to acquire: Growing Herndon contractor Unissant is eyeing its first-ever acquisition, according to the Washington Business Journal. It is actively looking to acquire, Chairman and CEO Manish Malhotra said, and just dropped a letter of intent for an unnamed company it is evaluating.  Unissant is a data company, explained Malhotra, working with federal agency clients “to keep the nation safe and healthy.” It’s a broad identifier, “managing data,” and Unissant does a lot with it, from advanced analytics and app development to DevSecOps — development, security and operations.

Sponsoring heroes: Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union is sponsoring the first-ever Honor Flight from Puerto Rico to Washington, D.C. on April 12-14, NimB reported. Puerto Rican veterans — who will travel for free — will spend three days in the U.S. Capitol visiting the monuments and memorials. The tour will also include honoring veterans from Puerto Rico, such as: 65th Infantry Regiment “Borinqueneers” recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, Vietnam Veterans, and Guardians of the War on Terror.  “PenFed is extremely grateful for the service of all Puerto Rican veterans,” said PenFed President James Schenck. “These heroes inspired our credit union to sponsor this inaugural Honor Flight. They have humbled us with their sacrifice and now it’s our turn to serve them by ensuring a strong financial future for their families.”

Internet anywhere: Tysons-based Iridium unveiled Go Exec, a new mobile hotspot designed to bring the internet with you basically anywhere. There are, of course, plenty of folks who could benefit from such always-on connectivity — first responders, sailors and pilots, etc. — but as the name suggests, the company is also appealing to corporate executives, TechCrunch reported. The system is an update to 2014’s Iridium Go. It’s more compact and lighter, while providing faster speeds than its predecessor, the article states.

Another piece of cake: Tysons-based CakeBoxx Technologies established a new Danish operating company, CakeBoxx Technologies, ApS, launching in Aarhus, Denmark this month, according to Yahoo Finance. CakeBoxx Technologies CEO Daine Eisold commented: “Over the past 24 months, our multinational customers have been asking for enhanced visibility, carbon monitoring, measurement, and tracking to be integrated into their most valuable shipping, intermodal and transloading systems. With the formation of CakeBoxx Technologies, ApS, we will now embark on applying our supply chain systems engineering and platforms expertise to smart containers and connected, digital 3PL platforms to enhance supply chain sustainability, velocity, and delivery.”

Power of identity: Reston-based TransUnion’s Neustar launched a new solution for AWS Clean Rooms by Amazon Web Services (AWS), tvtech reported. AWS Clean Rooms was announced last November as a new analytics service that helps companies across industries and their partners easily and securely analyze and collaborate on their combined datasets—without sharing or revealing underlying data. “Neustar’s collaboration with AWS Clean Rooms gives customers the ability to resolve identity fragments to actual consumers in the real world and improve their match rates to clean room partners,” said Ryan Engle, vice president of Identity Solutions at Neustar. “Together with AWS, we can better enable a privacy-first world with consumer trust at its heart, enhanced by the power of identity.”

Community & team building through tech innovation: A new virtual reality experience allowing participants to enter virtual worlds will open at The Boro development in Tysons this summer, McLean Patch reported. Sandbox VR, a full-body virtual reality entertainment experience, will open at 1656 Silver Hill Drive, Tysons. The full-body virtual reality experience uses motion-tracking technology to capture a person’s body movements. Combined with a haptic system, participants are immersed into a virtual reality game. “At The Boro, we strive to create an interactive, socially engaged neighborhood cultivated by experiential retailers like Sandbox VR,” said Charlie Schwieger, vice president of asset management at The Meridian Group, the Boro’s developer. “With a concept that promotes community and team building through technological innovation, Sandbox VR makes a unique, exciting addition to The Boro’s growing portfolio of eclectic restaurants, shops and attractions.”

Contract Wins

Intelligent Waves (Reston) will provide crowdsourced flight data support services to the U.S. Air Force under a two-year, $99.9 million contract. GovConWire

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

March 7 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting A Business in Fairfax County. Join our panel of small business experts for an interactive webinar on how to start your business. We will provide you with informative step-by-step information sessions that will cover registering your business, permitting requirements, business feasibility and business plan basics, business certifications, financing options and government resources. In addition, the Entrepreneur Spotlight will feature Omi Bell, Founder of Black Girl Ventures. Click here for more information and to register.

FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA 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.