March 17 E-Bird newsletter: Til Hazel leaves huge legacy in Fairfax County; how they landed Amazon’s HQ2; cooking up borscht for Ukraine

Rest in peace, Til: John T. “Til” Hazel Jr., a major force behind the development of Tysons and several planned communities in Fairfax County in the late 20th century, as well as a significant booster of George Mason University, died March 16 at the age of 91. Hazel was instrumental in creating Tysons Corner Center and the Tysons II mixed-use development. In the 1970s, Hazel pivoted from law to development and formed the Hazel/Peterson Cos. with the late Fairfax developer Milton V. Peterson. The two developed several planned communities, including Burke Centre, Franklin Farm, Fairfax Station, Fair Lakes and Centre Ridge. The Washington Post noted that one in 10 Fairfax County residents lives in a community developed by Hazel. The Post obituary, and those in Virginia Business and the Washington Business Journal, also highlight Hazel’s important contributions to the establishment of George Mason University as an independent university and creation of its law school.

Landing HQ2 for Northern Virginia: Victor Hoskins, now president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, was part of the team that pulled off the biggest economic development deal in recent history — the landing of Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, Northern Virginia magazine reported. Hoskins led Arlington Economic Development (AED) at the time, and his core group included Christina Winn, now the executive director at Prince William County Department of Economic Development, who was AED’s business investment director at that time, and Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO at Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. Discussing the HQ2 development Hoskins said: “We want to produce the kind of environment they have in Silicon Valley,” making National Landing a new job hub for all of Northern Virginia. Hoskins said he realized that National Landing could become a kind of capital of what some are calling a burgeoning Silicon Valley East. Check out this article to learn about how the trio team succeeded in beating out major cities and billion-dollar proposals to land Amazon HQ2 in Northern Virginia.

Souping up borscht for good: Cook for Ukraine, a borscht-making class in Reston, raised nearly $179,000 in humanitarian aid to become one of World Central Kitchen’s top fundraising efforts, Reston Patch reported. Radhika Murari, who is the founder of Reston-based OmMade peanut butter, said when she came up with the idea to raise money for humanitarian relief by helping two Ukrainian sisters promote their borscht-making class.

Looking to make an amazing impact here: Bath, England-based Buro Happold, a global engineering consultancy firm, opened an office in Tysons, Commercial Observer reported. Buro Happold considers itself a leader in sustainable and healthy built environments, and sees the D.C. region as a place where it can have an amazing impact, said Jeremy Snyder, a Buro Happold partner. “With our work in sectors such as government, cultural institutions, transportation, science and technology, commercial developments and health care, both the D.C. and the mid-Atlantic markets in general already have seen a great trajectory for growth in a sustainable and meaningful way,” Snyder said.

Fast in Fairfax: Inc. magazine unveiled its list of Mid-Atlantic region’s fastest growing companies, with five Fairfax County-based companies ranking in the top 25: No. 4: Bonnie and Pop (Fairfax): 2,050 percent; No. 18: Gridiron IT Solutions (Reston): 560 percent; No. 19: Kreative Technologies (Fairfax): 539 percent; No. 20: No Limit Creatives (Tysons): 538 percent; and No. 24: West 4th Strategy (Springfield): 500 percent. The Washington Business Journal has more.

What’s NEXT on the Beltway: Gov. Glenn Youngkin joined state and local officials Monday morning to break ground on a 2 1/2-mile extension of the express lanes on Interstate 495 between the Dulles Toll Road and the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean, InsideNoVa reported. The 495 NEXT project will add two new tolled express lanes in each direction on the Capital Beltway, including new connections at the toll road and the GW Parkway interchanges to increase commuting options close to Tysons, which is Fairfax County’s largest commercial district.

What’s next for FedBiz: The Washington Business Journal on February 22 presented its 2022 FedBiz Forum, which the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority was proud to sponsor. Now the Business Journal has posted conversations with the leaders of three top federal contractors.

Horacio Rozanski, CEO of Tysons-based Booz Allen Hamilton, talked with Business Journal publisher Alex Orfinger about government IT spending, acquisition spending, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at the company. Speaking about the company’s return to office strategy, Rozanski said: “We’re talking about reengaging our workforce in 3-D. Away from Zoom, which is 2-D. And by that, we mean diverse, digital and distributed. And I think all of those are self-explanatory, but the last one is really important as we think about the return to the office. We don’t imagine returning in the way we used to be. A lot of our work is being reimagined to give people the flexibility that they crave.”

In a discussion with Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Vandana Sinha, Roger Krone, CEO of Reston-based Leidos, talked about what’s next for mergers and acquisition, the company’s approach to COVID and vaccinations, the challenges and opportunities in finding talent, and Leidos’ DEI initiatives. Replying to a question about the company’s growth, Krone said: “We really had a great 2021 — we grew 12 percent overall. We have a record backlog. A lot of what’s going to go on in 2022 is a reflection of the success that we had in 2021 programs that we won that are starting to ramp up.”

Nazzic Keene, CEO of Reston-based SAIC, talked with Business Journal assistant managing editor Drew Hansen about government spending, the company’s M&A strategy, talent acquisition, real estate, COVID vaccine policies, and DEI initiatives. Answering a question about what next year will look like for SAIC, Keene replied: “On the business opportunity side, it’s the continued emphasis in digital transformation and digital government and the intersection between traditional engineering and digital engineering. We’re very pleased that we have the opportunity to serve and have a diverse portfolio in the fact that we serve [the Department of Defense], the intel community, the civilian agencies. All of the federal government certainly has a need to continue their digital modernization through IT modernization and to strengthen in all areas from cyber to cloud migration.”

Seed money: Reston-based Techforce.ai, a startup developing knowledge management software for employees, announced that it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. “We believe the future of work will be driven by higher cognitive work, and our vision is to empower workers with our user-friendly AI and automation software,” said CEO Sriram Papani, a co-founder of the company. Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Big sale at Springfield Town Center: Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), the owner of Springfield Town Center, fresh off a deal to bring a Lego Discovery Center to the mall, is close to selling off a piece of the larger center campus it acquired in 2017 for $465 million, the Washington Business Journal reported. The company disclosed in an earnings release Monday it has executed a letter of intent to sell a hotel development parcel at Springfield Town Center for $2.5 million. In an earnings call on Tuesday, company CEO Joe Coradino said PREIT expects to complete the sale of its multifamily and hotel assets by the end of the year.

Booz Allen stays EverWatch-ful: Tysons-based Booz Allen Hamilton will acquire Reston-based EverWatch, a provider of advanced solutions to the defense and intelligence communities. Leveraging a highly skilled, cleared workforce, EverWatch builds and operates mission-critical classified platforms to defend against increasingly sophisticated national cyber threats. Its specialized capabilities complement Booz Allen’s deep AI and cyber portfolio, and will help Booz Allen to leapfrog technology development cycles and meaningfully accelerate the delivery of classified software development and analytics capabilities for national security clients, citybiz reported.

Why they Placed a new name: D.C. hospitality startup WhyHotel, which has a Tysons location, is rebranding to Placemakr at the same time it’s revealing a new $90 million funding raise, its largest to date by far, DC Inno reported. Placemakr’s focus broadened during the pandemic to include not just temporary hotels but also longer-term property management, with a hospitality twist. Now, 80 percent of the company’s business comes from what it calls its hospitality living properties, where it manages entire properties on a permanent basis, offering long, medium and short-term stays.

Fast and innovative: Redmond, Wash.-based Kymeta, which has a Tysons location, was named in Fast Company’s 10 most innovative space companies of 2022. Kymeta provides broadband communications worldwide, with its flat-panel satellite antenna and connectivity services. In July, Kymeta was awarded a $950 million contract from the Air Force to develop integrated connectivity services across air, land, sea, cyber, electromagnetic spectrums, and space. Along with Tysons-based  satellite provider Intelsat, Kymeta successfully demonstrated satellite-enabled 5G services in November with its electronically steered antenna. And in more Kymeta news, the company closed on an equity funding of $84 million, led by Bill Gates and with participation by Hanwha Systems, which has a Tysons location, and other investors. SpaceRef picked up the release.

Diversifying the tech funnel: George Mason University and Marymount University are among the higher education partners participating with Capital CoLAB, an initiative launched by the Greater Washington Partnership to match students, particularly women and people of color, with the region’s tech job openings. The initiative has so far engaged with 12,000 prospective workers through its programs, the organization said. Capital CoLab also works with public high schools in the Greater Washington region, including with Fairfax County Public Schools, through its Talent Ready program, which teaches digital skills to students before they reach the college level. The organization has promised to work with a total of 45,000 students and adult learners to funnel them into digital tech careers by 2025, with 50 percent of them being Black, Latino and/or women, Washington Business Journal reported.

Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

Valiant Integrated Services secured a $124 million contract to support the Army National Guard’s mission command training support program by providing military training and readiness services. Army Technology

Featured business events

March 22 — Interns, Apprentices, Upskilling: Creatively Filling Your Talent Pipeline. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Northern Virginia Technology Council present a panel discussion sharing value propositions, best practices, funding and resources to help you with your talent recruiting and retention challenges. This session will benefit C-level, HR and division leadership. Click here to register.

March 23 — Re-imagining Early Childhood Education in a Post-COVID World. Fairfax Futures and the NOVA Business Alliance for Early Childhood Education invite you to attend a virtual discussion featuring a panel of experts who will discuss challenges facing the early childhood education sector. Click here to register.

March 24 — CyberTunity Meet Up. Entrepreneurs, small business leaders and venture capitalists involved in cybersecurity are invited to this networking meet up at Refraction in Tysons. 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.