E-Bird Newsletter

March 24 E-Bird newsletter: Update coming for Reston Town Center public spaces; Iridium keeping Ukrainians connected; OneWeb links with SpaceX

Sprucing up: Boston Properties is gearing up to launch a multimillion-dollar renovation of Reston Town Center’s most prominent public spaces, the Washington Business Journal reported in an article for subscribers. The real estate investment trust has retained Alan Ward, a principal at Massachusetts-based Sasaki Associates and part of the original landscape architecture team, to update the town center’s fountain and pavilion areas. Fountain Plaza, which hosts events including the annual holiday tree lighting, has undergone minor repairs but no major upgrades since it was built in the 1990s, according to the developer. Much has changed since then, including the pandemic-fueled rising popularity of outdoor dining, and the changes will create more of those spaces for the restaurants that look out toward the common areas. The project also includes landscape improvements and mechanical repairs, among other steps, all meant to create a more welcoming environment and support the tenants at the 4 million-square-foot development. WTOP has more.

Keeping Ukraine connected: Tysons-based satellite communications company Iridium is helping Ukrainians stay connected during the Russian invasion, the Washington Business Journal reported in an article for subscribers. Over the past few weeks, satellite devices have flooded Ukraine — allowing people to access the Internet and more despite reported disruptions — and thousands of those devices were made by Iridium, said CEO Matt Desch. Its products include satellite phones, tracking devices and other tools. The Business Journal also reported that the company is going to hire between 150 and 200 people this year for new product development and delivery, and that about half of those will be based in Northern Virginia.

Unexpected partnership: U.K.-based satellite communications company OneWeb, which has its North American headquarters in Tysons, partnered with Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX, because it will not be able to use Russian rockets in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Under the new deal, SpaceX will launch an unspecified number of OneWeb satellites later this year, adding to its growing constellation of 428 of the planned total of 648 low-Earth orbit satellites. OneWeb’s program, similar to SpaceX’s Starlink initiative, aims to create a mega-constellation of thousands of satellites to provide broadband internet coverage to customers around the world, Live Science reported.

Leading Virginia’s job creation: Northern Virginia slightly outperformed the commonwealth as a whole in its jobs rebound for the 12-month period ending in January, according to new figures from the Virginia Employment Commission. The local region picked up 36,600 jobs over the year, representing 41 percent of the 89,800 jobs that were added to the statewide economy during that period, according to VEC data. The 10 metropolitan areas of the Commonwealth each posted year-over-year job increases. Northern Virginia comprises 38 percent of the statewide employment total, about 1.4 million out of 3.9 million jobs, InsideNoVa reported.

Helping satellites stay on track: SCOUT, a space tech company based in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, developed a “dashcam” for satellites and spacecraft that allows them to navigate based on their surroundings. The company, founded in 2019, previously built a device to assist in navigation, as well as several software elements to be used from the ground. The idea, cofounder and CEO Eric Ingram told Technical.ly, is to make spacecraft more aware of their surroundings. That awareness can help make flights and flight paths safer. Last week the company closed an undisclosed bridge round that was led by Decisive Point, with participation from Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation and Geospatial Alpha.

Actionable insights: Tysons-based ThreatBlockr, a cybersecurity and threat defense startup, raised $5 million in a funding round. The round was led by Gula Tech Adventures, Tenfore Holdings, Saul Holdings, Lord Baltimore Capital Partners, along with others. the company announced the new name ThreatBlockr; it was formerly called Bandura Cyber. “By making hundreds of millions of data insights truly actionable through its patented technology, ThreatBlockr is the new foundational and essential piece to a new era of active cyber defense without requiring more overhead and operational capacity,” said Joyce Shen, investment and operating partner at Tenfore Holdings. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Spreading alerts worldwide: Reston-based Alert-Hub.org is a small company with a huge goal: bringing Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) automated emergency alerts to the developing world. Eliot Christian, the company’s CEO, said the focus of his nonprofit is helping countries assure that people in harm’s way get timely and effective emergency alerts so they can protect lives and livelihoods. Christian has been promoting CAP internationally since 2001, when he helped develop that standard after 9/11, according to WTOP.

Surf’s up for Wavedancer: In its third acquisition in less than a year, Wavedancer a Fairfax cybersecurity software company, reached a deal to acquire Herndon’s Knowmadics, a software-as-a-service company specializing in the Internet of Things device management, for $90 million. Wavedancer, which was known as Information Analysis until the end of 2021, specializes in secure supply chain management using blockchain and encryption algorithm technology. It also provides a web-based interface for transactions, documentation and other management aspects. The acquisition follows two deals last year that led to the company’s rebranding as Wavedancer. In December, it made a $14.5 million purchase of Annapolis, Md., blockchain and encryption company Gray Matters. That followed the April 2021 purchase of Rockville, Md., cyber company Tellenger, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Satellite connections: Luxembourg-based SES will acquire DRS Global Enterprise Solutions (GES), a Sterling-based subsidiary of Arlington-based Leonardo DRS, for $450 million. SES plans to organize the DRS GES business unit under its Reston-based SES Government Solutions subsidiary. The company said the investment accelerates SES’s strategy of growing its defense and government business. “SES’s revenue from serving the U.S. government would double in the size with the combination of GES and SES GS,” said Pete Hoene, president and CEO of SES Government Solutions. Space News has more.

Advancing the geospatial mission: Falls Church area-based General Dynamics Information Technology received a $4.5 billion contract from the Springfield-based National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). GDIT will operate, build, design and innovate an IT system across the NGA, GDIT business area vice president Ben Buckley said. “We are proud of our longstanding partnership with NGA and look forward to this opportunity to continue to leverage our portfolio of innovative technologies and services to advance the geospatial mission,” said GDIT President Amy Gilliland. Virginia Business has more.

India expansion: Tysons-based mobile communications company Omnispace and Nelco, a Tata Group company and a satellite communication service provider in India, formed a strategic cooperation agreement to enable and distribute 5G non-terrestrial network, direct-to-device satellite services. The collaborative effort will expand the reach of 5G using satellite communication throughout India and South Asia. “We are excited to be working with Nelco, a proven innovator which shares our vision, to deliver for the first-time, game-changing solutions for enterprise customers in India through the power of ubiquitous, global 5G communications,” said Jay Yass, chief corporate development officer at Omnispace. citybiz has more.

Kicking it toward Springfield: Rochester, N.Y.-based Glazer Properties, the real estate business of the family that owns professional sports teams in two of the world’s biggest leagues, just bought a shopping center in Springfield, Bisnow reported. The real estate firm, run by Kevin Glazer, acquired the 48,000-square-foot Backlick Center that includes Chick-fil-A, Advance Auto Parts, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Bamba. The Glazer family, which owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and  Manchester United of the English Premier League, paid previous owner Crow Holdings Capital $25 million for Backlick Center.

Amping up affordable housing: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to amp up its affordable housing goals. Through a motion introduced by Chairman Jeff McKay and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, the board set a new goal of 10,000 affordable housing units by 2034. The previous target, set in 2019, was 5,000 new units in 15 years. McKay said the county’s previous goal was set in place as a floor, rather than a ceiling. “It’s amazing that we’re in a position today just two years after adopting that goal, that we’re able to move the floor to 10,000 units moving forward,” McKay said. “That’s 10,000 individuals and families whose lives will be immeasurably improved, and that’s 10,000 units that we know will be occupied by many, many families over many years.” FFXnow has more.

Creative approaches to attract and retain talent: Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, provided advice on how to attract and retain workers amid today’s fierce competition for talent in an article he penned in Recruiter.com. “While the war for talent is not new, the pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the issue. On the other hand, talent is now relocating and willing to relocate more than ever before,” Hoskins wrote. “There is an opportunity to capture this small majority, but companies and the regions where they are located need to try something new to come out on top. We can do this by tapping into existing (and underutilized) resources and talent groups, and importantly, by being more creative in our approach to connecting with talent.”

New leadership for the Commonwealth: The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Board of Directors unanimously selected Jason El Koubi as VEDP president and CEO following a three-month nationwide search. El Koubi has served as VEDP executive vice president since 2017. He helped lead the development and implementation of an ambitious Strategic Plan for Economic Development of the Commonwealth, spearheaded development and initial implementation of the first-ever International Trade Strategic Plan for Virginia, led creation of VEDP’s Division of Real Estate Solutions, and served on the management team for Amazon HQ2 and other major business development projects over the last several years. Previously he was president and CEO of One Acadiana, a regional economic development organization based in Lafayette, La. El Koubi succeeds Stephen Moret, who served as VEDP President and CEO for five years. Citybiz picked up a VEDP release about the appointment.


Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

Peraton received a $339.1 million contract to provide management support to a NASA facility that hosts balloon-based scientific experiments. GovConWire

Leidos secured a five-year, $84 million contract to help the Navy operate and maintain undersea warfare platforms. GovConWire

General Dynamics Information Technology scored a $45 million contract to assist the Department of Veterans Affairs adopt a zero-trust architecture to secure IT systems. ExecutiveBiz


Featured business events

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.

April 7 — Annual Economic Outlook for Greater Richmond Highway Corridor. Presented by the Mount Vernon Lee Chamber of Commerce and the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, speakers will focus on the local economy and workforce-development initiatives. Confirmed speakers are Joe Mengedoth, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Fairfax County Supervisor Rodney Lusk (Lee District), Dana Fallon, Northern Virginia Community College, and Michael Batt, talent initiative director, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. 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.