the Power of Ideas channel

In Fairfax County, meaningful information and research fuel the Power of Ideas. That’s why we created the Power of Ideas Channel: to bring you the latest business and economic development news and information. Here, you can access articles curated and written by Fairfax County EDA, read the latest editions of our E-Bird news digest, review business news from NPR and learn about best practices from Harvard Business Review. Click below and experience the benefit of having the right information right at your fingertips.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 10:59am

Staffing in the unmanned world: The Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon has made an unspecified GAP Funds investment in DroneUp, a Chesapeake, Va..-based creator of a platform that locates, qualifies and deploys drone pilots according to requirements for commercial, government and public safety clients. Michelai Graham reports for

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 10:58am

Change of plans: Arconic, a Fortune 500 metals manufacturer that announced last year that it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New York to 1600 Tysons Boulevard, said it changed plans in light of leadership changes and new strategic directions. "While we are disappointed that Arconic will not relocate its headquarters to Fairfax County, we know companies may need to change their plans, especially if there is a change in leadership," Catherine Riley, interim president and CEO of the FCEDA, told the Washington Business Journal. "We wish them well and we stand ready to help Arconic if it decides to reconsider Fairfax County as a business location."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 10:58am

Mapping the future: With a combined 318 branches in the Greater Washington area, the pending merger of BB&T and SunTrust banks will create one of the three largest banks in the region and inevitably lead to some consolidation, says Andy Medici of the Washington Business Journal. His story includes an overlay map indicating areas where branches overlap. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:22am

Merging of assets: BB&T and SunTrust banks, each of which have multiple customer service centers in Fairfax County, are merging to create the sixth-largest bank in the U.S. The all-stock deal, valued at about $66 billion, will create a bank with about $442 billion in assets that is expected to serve more than 10 million U.S. households. A new name for the institution is expected to be announced prior to the deal's closing late this year. USA Today was among multiple news outlets reporting the news this morning.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:22am

Taking stock in Reston: Comstock has substantially increased its presence at Reston Station with the acquisition of JBG Smith's Metro Center project for $115 million. Daniel J. Sernovitz of the Washington Business Journal reports that the purchase made by Comstock's CMC group will extend Comstock's control across the Dulles Toll Road, increasing its holdings in the area to nearly 40 acres. The deal also reduces Comstock's competition as it looks to fill office space at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza and a second office building in the works.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:21am

... In related developments: JBG Smith has asked Fairfax County for permission to scale back the amount of office space it had planned at its mixed-use Reston Heights development, already home to the new VY apartment complex. The developer's request calls for the elimination of 215,000 square feet of office space and 3,600 square feet of retail it does not wish to construct at this time on the 10-acre Sunrise Valley Drive site. Katie Arcieri reports for the Washington Business Journal.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:20am

None aboard: Trains were rolling on the Silver Line extension from Reston toward Dulles Airport early Wednesday morning. No passengers were on board the two-car trains which were making their initial pass to polish and eliminate rust build-up on the electrified third rails. Michael Neibauer of the Washington Business Journal reports that service remains on track to begin in 2020.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:19am

The lease you can do: According to the Washington Business Journal, eight of the Greater Washington's 21 largest lease agreements inked in 2018 (based on square footage) were for properties in Fairfax County. Largest of all was the new Reston Gateway lease for 850,000 square feet for tenant Fannie Mae.  LeidosMicroStrategyAppianGeneral Dynamics Information Technology and KPMG also signed leases on the WBJ list.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:18am

Furnishing touches: A two-story Ethan Allen furniture store, additional restaurants, a hair studio and a French bakery are among the latest wave of retail establishments preparing to open at The Boro in Tysons Corner. Citybizlist takes a closer look at the lineup released by The Meridian Group.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:17am

Mechanical touch: Reston-based Bechtel led a team that, with the use of robotics technology, completed neutralization of 100,000 munitions from a U.S. chemical weapons stockpile in Colorado. Brenda Marie Rivers reports for ExecutiveBiz that the team decommissioned weapons containing an explosive mustard agent at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. The robotic system enabled the group to remotely get inside weapons to drain the liquid agent and recycle the munition bodies.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 1:35pm

Financial institutions take big steps across the county; African-American History Month takes stage at SAIC

Capital One has grabbed the lion's share of the banking headlines locally with the opening of its gleaming new headquarters tower in Tysons Corner. But financial institutions of all sizes have been making news in Fairfax County during the first weeks of 2019, underscoring the fact that financial services is one of the county's most significant industry sectors.


Here's a sampling of what's going on in the financial-services sector. 

  • Anchors aweigh: Navy Federal Credit Union's new CEO, Mary McDuffie, told the Washington Business Journal that the Vienna-based institution plans to open more branches and hire more personnel nationwide. "Navy Federal, right now, is in a terrific place," McDuffie said. The nation's largest credit union intends to add hundreds of employees at its corporate campuses including an operations center in Winchester it expects will open late this year or in 2020. Navy Federal employs about 4,500 in Vienna. 

  • Repeat of lender: Shaza Andersen, who grew Reston-based Washington First Bank to $2.1 billion in assets before selling it last year, is spearheading the formation of Trustar Bank, a commercial bank based in Great Falls. The Washington Business Journal reports that pending FDIC approval, the bank plans to open its first branch at a Fairfax County location in the second quarter of this year.

  • Lone Star aspirations: Tysons Corner-based Pentagon Federal Credit Union unveiled plans to establish a regional financial center that will create about 600 new jobs in San Antonio, Tex. W. Scott Bailey of the Business Journals reported on the proposed $48 million project.

  • More than a Vision: The Washington Business Journal's Andy Medici writes that Tysons Corner-based VisionBank is working to raise between $30 million and $40 million in capital before opening in the first half of this year. Medici reported on Tuesday that Vision, which is still awaiting FDIC approval, added three new members to its board of directors.

  • Making inroads: West Virginia-based MVB Bank, which targets investment in financial technology companies, continues to expand its reach into Northern Virginia. Andy Medici of the Washington Business Journal notes that MVB, which utilizes virtual tellers, has opened a new branch in McLean and last year reopened a new, larger facility in Reston.

  • Brand identity: Atlantic Union Bank is the new name for Union Bank & Trust. The Richmond-based institution recently announced a $528 million acquisition of Reston-based Access National Bank. One of the reasons Union decided on rebranding was to differentiate from United Bank, which recently moved its headquarters from West Virginia to Tysons Corner.

  • The Marshall plan: Reston-based John Marshall Bank hasn't been merely watching. In late 2018 it opened two new branches, including a Tysons Corner facility. The Washington Business Journal noted that the bank, which first opened in Falls Church in 2006, signaled it was taking a long-term view when it hired several top executives last May.


SAIC Senior Project Officer Tollie Strode, Jr., receives a top honor this weekend. It comes during African-American History Month and shines a spotlight on the importance of STEM education and skill preparation for jobs in emerging technologies.

On February 9, Strode will receive the Gen. Lester L. Lyles Legacy award at the Black Engineer of the Year Award STEM Conference in Washington, D.C. BEYA likens the gala, which caps a three-day educational summit, to "the Oscars of the STEM industry."

Strode, nominated by Josh Jackson, SAIC executive vice president and general manager of the Solutions & Technology Group, has served as the Reston-based company's team lead for experimentation with robotics autonomous systems and made significant contributions to the Department of Defense's efforts to develop capabilities that enhance military effectiveness.

"Tollie is a critical member of our team and his accomplishments bring a unique perspective to SAIC," Jackson said. "[He] is deeply passionate about robotics, his workplace, and his community, well-respected by all who have worked with him, and well-known for his impressive contributions to the robotics field."

Strode joined SAIC in 2009, and supports the Army's Maneuver Battle Lab and engineering programs for drones, ground robotics, solider-borne sensors and other battlefield innovations at Fort Benning, Ga. He first joined a team of analysts and engineers at Fort Benning in 2002 where they began charting a path for robotics in future military operations.

"This award represents a return on investment to the many people that poured into me their confidence, trust, and unconditional support during my career that spans more than 40 years," Strode said. "I am truly grateful."

During the annual BEYA Conference, 12 more SAIC employees will also be recognized for their accomplishments in STEM as Science Spectrum Trailblazers and Modern-Day Technology Leaders. For the full list and more about Strode and BEYA, see a release picked up by citybizlist.


In case you missed it: 

Plotting a long-term strategy: The Fairfax County government has been working on formulation of a strategic plan and has invited residents to help shape the future. Four community conversationsare upcoming and citizens are also urged to participate by taking a short survey about goals for the county. Click here for that survey.

Don't fear the robots: There's a real fear that automation could eliminate a significant number of jobs. But a Brookings Institution study finds that the Washington area is least vulnerable to that job loss. Katishi Maake reports for the Washington Business Journal.

Family friendly: Highlighting excellent schools and fun places to visit such as Mount Vernon and Frying Pan Park, The Penny Hoarder recently ranked Fairfax County among "25 Affordable Cities That Are Also Awesome Places to Raise Families."


Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:31am

Now hear this: GoCanvas, a mobile apps and online form software company based in Reston, received a major investment from growth equity firm K1 Investment Management of El Segundo, Calif. The deal is worth more than $100 million according to Andy Medici, in a story for subscribers to the Washington Business Journal. GoCanvas founder and CEO James Quigley will continue to lead the company, which currently employs about 165 and has plans to double in size. Quigley is vice chairman of the commission that oversees the FCEDA.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:30am

Worthy workplaces: Cassaday & Co., a financial services firm in Tysons Corner, and Thundercat Technology from Reston are ranked 1 and 2 among Small Employers (15 to 100 employees) on the Virginia Business list of the 100 Best Places to Work in Virginia. Other companies ranked in the top 10 of their categories include Large Employers (more than 250 employees), Accounting Principals (Tysons Corner), MBP (Fairfax) and VHB (Tysons Corner); Midsize Employers (100 to 249 employees) Mayvin (Annandale), Macedon Technologies(Reston), Dynamis (Fairfax) and Spry Methods (Tysons Corner); Small Employers Sriven Technologies (Herndon) and Homes, Lowry, Horn & Johnson (Fairfax).

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:29am

Winning with defense: LMI, a government consulting nonprofit headquartered in Tysons Corner, acquired The Tauri Group, adding to its presence in national defense and homeland security. Robert J. Terry of the Washington Business Journal reports that Tauri, based near the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, will help LMI bolster its offerings in defense, emerging technologies and life sciences for military programs.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:28am

Macro impact: Herndon-headquartered MicroPact, a developer of case-management and business-process-management software used by the Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury and NASA among 350 public sector clients, will be bought by Tyler Technologies of Plano, Texas. According to Robert J. Terry of the Washington Business Journal, Tyler will pay $185 million to buy MicroPact from Arlington Capital Partners. The deal is not anticipated to impact MicroPact's 469 employees or its Herndon location. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:26am

Benefits of Networking: Tysons Corner-based Ntiva, a provider of IT services,  acquired Reston-based Network Alliance, a managed service provider. Ntiva expects the deal to broaden its offerings and expand its client base in the accounting and finance markets. Potomac Tech Wire carried a release

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:25am

Ingredients for better subs: General Dynamics will reinvest $1 billion into manufacturing upgrades, including money to improve submarine production. Ben Werner of USNI News reports that 3 percent of the Falls Church area-based contractor's projected 2019 sales are related to the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine. The investment strategy will focus on improving operations of the Electric Boat Division, which also works on Virginia-class attack subs.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 11:24am

Audience anticipation: Chantilly-based Long & Foster Real Estate  created a landing page for Amazon employees who could be transferred to the Washington area this year. Katishi Maake of the Washington Business Journal reports that the site offers information on everything from properties for sale and rent to dining and nightlife options near Amazon's HQ2 site at National Landing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 10:52am

All in a Row: Seizing on a demand for residential space in Tysons Corner, the CBRE Group is marketing a 5.2-acre slice of the Arbor Row mixed-used development for Lone Star Funds. Daniel J. Sernovitz reported for Washington Business Journal subscribers that the site, at the corner of Westpark and Westbranch drives, is projected to include almost 700 units and 8,000 square feet of street-level retail.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 10:52am

No sale Today: Gannett said on Monday that its board unanimously rejected an unsolicited $1.36 billion to acquire the company by fellow newspaper owner MNG Enterprises. Gannett, based in Tysons Corner, owns USA Today and more than 100 local newspapers. As noted in a release picked up by Potomac Tech Wire, MNG currently owns a 7.5 percent stake in Gannett.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 10:51am

Progress report: With words and photos, WTOP's Kristi King updates us on the progress of the National Museum of the U.S. Army that's rounding into shape at Fort Belvoir. The facility, scheduled to open in 2020, will span the area of more than three football fields -- enough to house World War I tanks, Civil War cannons and an array of interactive experiences.

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 12:44pm

Now hear this: The FCEDA's next Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County workshop will be take place on February 5. The workshop is suited to anyone who is opening or considering a new business in Fairfax County. It will be held at FCEDA headquarters in Tysons Corner. Registration is required and space is limited. Reserve your place by clicking here.

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 12:44pm

Getting innovative: Government contractor CACI announced it struck a $750 million deal to acquire Herndon-based LGS Innovations. According to the Washington Business Journal's Robert J. Terry, LGS, is owned by a private-equity group that includes CoVant Management of Tysons Corner. Formerly part of Bell Laboratories and then Lucent Technologies, LGS provides network infrastructure for the Defense Department and the intelligence community. Based in Arlington, CACI already has major operations in Chantilly, Herndon, Lorton and Reston.

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 12:43pm

Express written consent: Transurban Group, an Australian roadway operator with North American headquarters in Tysons Corner, signed agreements with the Commonwealth of Virginia for $1 billion in projects aimed at relieving congestion on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95. Katie Arcieri of the Washington Business Journal reports the projects include a 2.5-mile extension of the 495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge (with direct connections to the Dulles Toll Road and George Washington Memorial Parkway), a 10-mile extension of the 95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg, and a ramp from the 95 Express Lanes to provide improved access to the Potomac Mills area.

Americans Tightened Their Belts, And It Might Hurt Economic Numbers Important To Trump

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 5:46pm
Retail sales fell 1.2 percent in December, the most in nine years. The drop cut into forecasts for economic growth.

What started off as a strong holiday shopping season ended with a whimper, as December retail sales posted the sharpest drop in nine years. That could mean GDP growth will miss the president's target.

(Image credit: David Zalubowski/AP)

Florists Fear A 'No Deal' Brexit Would Wilt The Flower Business

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 4:53pm
Rosa Ashby runs Rosa Flowers in the English market town of Witney. Every flower in her shop, including lilies, chrysanthemums and lisianthus, is either grown in or distributed through the Netherlands.

U.K. flower shop owners who rely on shipments from the Netherlands are concerned about how leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement will affect them.

(Image credit: Frank Langfitt/NPR)

Airbus Will End Production Of Massive A380 Jetliner

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 4:43pm

It's a plane so big it can carry the population of a tiny town. But more efficient jets and airports have changed the market, so Airbus will no longer make the massive A380 jetliner.

What You Need To Know About The $22 Trillion National Debt

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 4:43pm

NPR's Audie Cornish talks with Jason Furman, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, about the national debt that's currently at $22 trillion.

Greeting Cards Are Still A Thing In The Digital Age. Thanks, Millennials

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 12:30pm
With increased channels of communication, millennials find that cards symbolize effort and send them for "cardworthy" occasions.

Greeting card companies have weathered some tough times as more people send good wishes online. But millennials are purchasing more cards, which has helped stabilize the industry.

(Image credit: Colin Gray/Getty Images)

Amazon Drops Plans For New York Headquarters

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 12:01pm
A man runs along the waterfront in the Long Island City neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, which had been the planned location for a secondary Amazon headquarters.

An Amazon spokeswoman told NPR that this decision is not reversible, and the company plans no further negotiations. The company will not search for a new HQ location.

(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Anger, Confusion Over Dwindling Refunds. Is Trump's Tax Plan To Blame?

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 10:46am
Taxpayers faced with smaller refunds or higher taxes have been airing their grievances online.

Tax refunds so far have been smaller than last year's. Some taxpayers kept a bigger share of their income, but for others it reflects an overhaul that rewarded high earners the most.

(Image credit: Susan Walsh/AP)

Planet Money's Podcast 'The Indicator' Tackles History Of Bonds

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 5:02am

Governments all over the world use bonds to raise money. We examine how the the first bond came to be, and how it transformed the way governments borrow money.

When Your Shared Netflix Account Outlasts The Relationship

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 5:01am
Aleta Dignard-Fung says she battled her ex-boyfriend for control of what music would play on her Spotify account.

Sharing of online streaming video and music passwords among sweethearts is a territorial marker, like wearing a boyfriend's sweater. But what happens to custody of the accounts when the love is gone?

(Image credit: Courtesy of Aleta Dignard-Fung)

Airbus To Stop Production Of A380 Superjumbo Jet

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 4:43am

The European company says it has no reason to continue production after its biggest customer cut back its orders. Despite much fanfare, the double-decker plane has struggled to find a market.

(Image credit: Tony Avelar/AP Images for Emirates)

The Strike That Changed U.S. Labor

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 5:59pm
Members of the nascent United Auto Workers Union (UAW) during a sit-down strike in the General Motors Fisher Body Plant in Flint, Michigan. (Photo by Sheldon Dick/Getty Images)

The 1937 agreement between GM and the United Auto Workers union ushered in a period of strength for organized labor. Today, labor is nowhere near as powerful as it used to be. What happened?

(Image credit: Sheldon Dick/Getty Images)

Why A Stranded Norwegian Plane Is A Consequence Of U.S. Sanctions On Iran

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 4:10pm

A Norwegian plane that made an emergency landing in Iran is stranded, due to unintended effects of U.S. sanctions. The plane needs new engine parts, but importing them is prohibited by the sanctions.

How Galentine's Day Went From A Sitcom Hit To A Commercial Holiday

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 4:10pm

The sitcom Parks and Recreation created Galentine's Day as a celebration of lady friendships. Almost a decade later, it has fully left the realm of TV and entered capitalist reality.

Levi Strauss Wants To Stretch Its Pockets With Second Go At IPO

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 3:23pm
Levi Strauss & Co. said on Wednesday that it has filed paperwork for an initial public offering.

The denim company, which patented bluejeans in 1873, is planning to go public in one of the most high-profile IPOs of the year. Still controlled by Strauss descendants, it has been private since 1985.

(Image credit: Jeff Chiu/AP)

Lufthansa Airlines Sues Customer Who Skipped Part Of His Return Flight

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 2:57pm

The Lufthansa passenger paid around $741 to fly business class from Oslo to Seattle and back. But on his return trip, he got off in Germany — and the airline wants him to pay more than $2,000.

(Image credit: Michael Probst/AP)

Former Apple Executive Accused Of Insider Trading By SEC

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 2:30pm
The SEC has accused a former Apple executive of using advance information about the company

The agency says Gene Levoff used prior knowledge of earnings to buy and sell millions of dollars in Apple stock, even as he was responsible for overseeing compliance with rules on insider trading.

(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)