Press Club

Biz Talk: Grow Your Federal Contracting Business in Arlington

This article was written by Arlington Economic Development.

Arlington’s robust federal government ecosystem and prime location directly across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. make it an attractive place for government contractors to grow and thrive.

In FY20, Northern Virginia companies were awarded nearly $90 billion in federal procurement awards, exceeding the total of any single state, including Texas and California (usaspending.gov). We all know Arlington is home to the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, which alone awards nearly two-thirds of federal contracts by value. Additionally, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) call Arlington home.

However, many may not know about the critical pieces of the government contracting ecosystem that help businesses grow and thrive here.

  1. Mentoring and business development: Looking for personal help and guidance for your federal contracting business? Arlington Economic Development’s (AED) mission is to help Arlington businesses grow and thrive. AED can help you find the right resources for your business. We provide small business counseling, timely workshops and webinars, and even incentives if your business is growing quickly and taking new office space. If you’re interested in ongoing mentoring, SCORE assists Arlington businesses and AED clients. Some SCORE mentors have owned their own federal contracting business and have the experience to help you grow yours. Reach out to AED’s senior business ambassador, Sindy Yeh, if you have questions about growing your federal contracting business in Arlington or want to be connected to additional resources.
  2. Accelerators: If your government startup is looking for guidance and to scale quickly, an accelerator program could be an excellent fit for you. Accelerators are a cohort-based program in which startups are given resources and education to expedite their growth in a specific market, typically ending with a pitch day or competition. Mach37 accelerator is a great choice for cybersecurity startups. Defense startups can apply to the National Security Innovation Network Accelerator program (NSIN), and FedTech has a few accelerator options for government technology contractors. NSIN and Fedtech, both in Arlington, provide a platform for innovators from the defense, academic and venture communities to change the way national security innovation works.
  3. Funding/capital investment: Is your business growing quickly and looking for outside capital? In-Q-tel invests in national security tech startups and brings a unique blend of funding and deep knowledge of the national security market. The Center for Innovative Technology aims to fill gaps in the earliest stages of innovation and commercialization. They have multiple funds, including their GAP fund and Virginia Founders Fund, to help Virginia startups.
  4. Networking: There is no shortage of networking, advocacy and education groups specifically dedicated to government contracting. The Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum provides education and networking for new government contractors. In the defense industry? Check out the National Defense Industrial Association, which helps foster discussion on national security. The Professional Services Council advocates for government technology and professional services companies and professionals. The Northern Virginia Chamber has a very active Gov Con committee holding networking meetings and educational programming.

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