FCEDA global operations pivot to virtual during pandemic; 2 Fairfax County companies accepted to Virginia export program

With six satellite offices located in important tech centers around the world, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) immediately pivoted its mode of global communications when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. With air travel at a literal standstill the FCEDA amped up its use of videoconferencing to keep its international business operations in flow — and, ironically enough, it has resulted in expanded international business exposure for the organization.

“As with many companies and organizations, we shifted to virtual operations because of the pandemic, but we pivoted seamlessly and the technology has allowed us to work in new ways, connect with our team, our partners and allies easily and reach new prospects in different ways than we would have before,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA.

Home to more than 430 foreign-owned firms hailing from 49 companies, Fairfax County is a thriving global business community. In addition to many large and well-known international giants, many smaller firms use Fairfax County as their gateway to the U.S. market.

In addition to the Tysons headquarters, the FCEDA operates offices in Bangalore/Mumbai, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv. The staff at these offices offer free assistance to companies in those markets that are interested in locating or expanding in Fairfax County.

The FCEDA has had an overseas presence since 1997 when it opened its first office in Tokyo. The office remained in operation until 2005 and a new office was opened in Seoul the same year. The London office opened in 1998; and Munich in 2000, which was relocated to Frankfurt in 2010, and Berlin in 2016. The Tel Aviv and Bangalore offices opened in 2004. In 2018, the India office added a presence in Mumbai.

The FCEDA also has maintained a U.S. West Coast office since 2006 and currently has representatives in Los Angeles.

In tandem, the FCEDA’s U.S.-based and overseas colleagues work to promote Fairfax County as an ideal place for global companies to expand or relocate. Information and services that the FCEDA provides include: identifying suitable commercial real estate options in the county and providing market intelligence; providing soft-landing services—introduction to service providers; offering business development connections for companies; providing support for marketing/public relations visibility; and liaising with the county government for licenses, permits and taxation issues.

Since the start of the pandemic the FCEDA has helped companies based in Canada, India, Israel, Korea, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom that have expanded their operations in Fairfax County.

While many meetings were conducted in-person pre-COVID, FCEDA has not missed a step in helping companies virtually during this unprecedented time.

In addition to virtual meetings, the FCEDA has hosted or played a major role as a sponsor and/or participant and organizer in nearly 30 virtual events since the pandemic began in March–connecting participants from across the world. Before the expansion of teleconferencing the amped up global reach would have necessitated the logistics, time and expense required for additional international travel.

Virtual events have also been hosted in collaboration with partner organizations around the Washington, D.C., area including the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Dulles Area Transportation Authority, George Mason University, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Virginia Technology Council and TiE DC.

International event partners have included the embassies of Argentina, India and Israel, the British American Business Council, Israel Advanced Technology Industries, SIBB Germany and the Government of Quebec.

Initial virtual events following the pandemic focused on helping companies shift to teleworking and conducting business in the COVID era. Global events have focused on regions that included trade and investment with Argentina, India, Israel, Germany and other nations.

In the United Kingdom, FCEDA’s partnership with the firm Go-to-Market Global for business events and one-on-one business matchmaking sessions have continued while pivoting from in-person to online formats.

FCEDA’s India staff has virtually traveled to regions of India that they had not visited yet in person prior to the pandemic, expanding the FCEDA’s market range. Prior to the pandemic the twice yearly visits were focused on the major metropolitan cities. By using videoconferencing technology, FCEDA has been able to connect with companies located in other areas of the country.

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce has hosted a series of its International Business Council (IBC) webinars that began before the pandemic hit but have accelerated in the last six months. Despite major differences in time zones, speakers and panelists often are located in markets overseas as well as in Northern Virginia.

Chaired by Jan Mul, director of the FCEDA International Business Investment Division, the Dulles Chamber’s IBC includes member representation from the FCEDA, Loudoun County Economic Development, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

After the pandemic hit the IBC live-streamed virtual events continued with events that focused on a global virtual exchange; a Korea-U.S. global business dialog on COVID-19; a U.S. and India event on the global supply chain; and most recently a South America webinar focused on tourism and the wine industry.

Next up for the IBC is a September 15 event on International Trade: Israel and Virginia. With welcoming remarks to be delivered by Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA, speakers at the event will include:

  • Samuel Amsalem, senior assistant to managing director of the Israel Airport Authority;
  • James Faulkner, director, International Business Development at Raytheon;
  • Evan Koppel, regional sales director at United Airlines;
  • Yifat Alon Perel, minister of Economic and Trade Affairs at the Embassy of Israel;
  • Oded Rose, CEO, of the America-Israel Chamber;
  • Yil Surehan, vice president, Airline Business Development, at the Washington Metro Airport Authority;
  • Brett Vassey, president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association;
  • David Yogev, vice president, sales, managing director, North America at Oran Safety Glass; and
  • Barry Zebrak, director, North America, at Israel Ministry of Defense – SIBAT.

Click here to register for the free event.

“The pandemic has required us to work in new ways, but a lot of practices we have put into place will continue when the pandemic is over because of the ease of connecting with other people around the world through technology,” Hoskins said. “Nothing can replace building relationships through face-to-face meetings and events, but thank goodness we have the technology that allows us to continue to tell the story of why Fairfax County is a great location for international companies that want to do business in the U.S.”

To find out about additional upcoming global events, check the FCEDA calendar. For more information on the FCEDA’s global operations, please click here. If you represent a company interested in finding out more about Fairfax County, contact Jan Mul at jmul@fceda.org.

2 Fairfax County companies selected for export trade program

Two Fairfax County-based companies, ENSCO National Security Solutions based in Springfield, and PaneraTech in Chantilly, are among 12 companies that the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) accepted into its two-year Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program.

The VALET program assists companies in the Commonwealth that are committed to international exporting as a growth strategy. To participate, each business must meet both quantitative and qualitative selection criteria, and participating firms are chosen based on their dedication to growing export sales. To date, 359 Virginia companies have been accepted to participate in the VALET program. Two Fairfax County companies, Dynamis, Inc., in Merrifield and Parabon NanoLabs in Reston, graduated from the program in August.

Currently, the VALET program has 45 companies as participants. The program provides participating companies with export planning services and assistance from a team of experienced international service providers to help meet the companies’ international business goals. These private-sector service providers contribute essential expertise to assist companies in executing export plans and include attorneys, web designers, bankers, translators, accountants, and freight forwarders.

The Commonwealth of Virginia exports more than $36 billion in goods and services annually. Exports of Virginia’s products and services to the world are vital to the growth of the Commonwealth, supporting more than 257,000 jobs and generating $2 billion in annual tax revenue. VEDP offers numerous programs to assist Virginia companies with selling into the global marketplace, and has a network of international market research consultants covering more than 70 countries around the globe.

“VEDP is committed to working with Virginia businesses to expand their international sales, thereby increasing trade and trade-related jobs in the Commonwealth, and we welcome these companies into the VALET program,” said VEDP President and CEO Stephen Moret. “During this time when businesses need growth opportunities more than ever, we are proud to have a proven program like VALET available to propel Virginia exporters to compete in the global marketplace.”

Click here for more information on the VALET program.

September 10, 2020