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Local startups could receive up to $50K for choosing to keep their headquarters in Arlington

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza

Arlington County will pay early-stage tech startups money to keep their operations in Arlington.

The intent is to support new tech startups, particularly those owned by women, veterans and minorities, while pushing down office vacancy rates.

The Arlington County Board gave the Arlington Economic Development (AED) the go-ahead to enact this program, dubbed the Catalyst Grant Program, last Tuesday.

AED will be using $650,000 of the $1 million it received in the 2024 Fiscal Year budget for its Arlington Innovation Fund, an initiative by AED to entice companies to fill vacant offices in the county.

“What we are trying to achieve with this is to provide capital to early stage tech startups that are based in Arlington currently,” Ryan Touhill, director of Arlington Economic Development, told ARLnow. “[The goal is] to really help them in the early stage of their company formation when when they’ve raised the money, and try to give them a boost to really accelerate their growth and to entice them to stay here in Arlington.”

Companies will receive anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 in funding from the program, contingent on them remaining in Arlington for at least two years. By attracting smaller businesses, AED hopes to drive down vacancy rates, which reached 23% in the first quarter of 2023.

“We know that tech companies are one of the drivers of job growth,” Touhill said. “We have a good number of tech companies here in Arlington, and we want to grow the number of home based companies that form here and grow here.”

He noted that AED is targeting these smaller, newer companies because larger, legacy ones are not looking to relocate at this time.

Office buildings in Rosslyn (staff photo)

AED is focused on what it calls inclusive economic development. To that end, it says it is focused on generating interest in this program among entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities and would like to see half of the Catalyst Grant Program applications come woman-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses.

“If you look at the trends, you’ll see that underserved communities receive way less in terms of the number of deals and the amount of venture capital they get compared to their white counterparts,” Adam Henry, a senior business development manager at AED, told ARLnow.

“We really want to make an intentional, concerted effort to reach out to our underserved communities to make sure that we can become a model for other communities to have the inclusive economic development approach,” he continued.

The county economic development division says it will partner with various community universities, organizations and groups to reach out to entrepreneurs and small businesses, according to a report. The application period could open as early as August.

Winners could be announced this fall. If any funds remain, there will be a second application cycle this winter or next spring.

The grants can be used to pay for costs such as salaries, benefits, training and recruitment, research and development, commercial real estate and equipment, the report said.

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