As more people around the country receive the COVID-19 vaccine, companies are starting to weigh the many factors impacting a return to the physical office.
While for most of the pandemic focus was on the workforce adapting to working from home, workforce surveys are now starting to reflect what we can expect the new world to look like. Many remote work skeptics have come around to the reality that much of the workforce became more effective during the pandemic. Cutting out commutes and allowing for more time with family were some of the silver linings at-home workers experienced in the past 14 months — and many will cling to these new benefits as companies start calling employees back into the office.
A recent survey from Savills North America found that while 73% of companies expect employees to be in the office at least three days a week, only 4% expect employees to be in the office every day. In other words, flexible work is here to stay.
On the surface, this sounds like bad news for communities reliant on occupied office buildings for tax revenue, particularly as almost 80% of companies surveyed by Savills claimed that at least some employees have been allowed to permanently relocate away from their previously assigned office. Coming out of the pandemic, locations like Arlington could be primed to benefit from an increased focus on amenity-rich environments.
Pre-pandemic, the number one driver for real estate decisions was positioning the office space as a desirable, interactive and engaging environment for employees. That will not change post-pandemic. High-quality amenities like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, as well as robust transportation infrastructure, will move even higher on the list for companies looking to create a high-quality office environment. Employees that leave their home to travel to work will want the end destination to be fun, vibrant and amenity-rich to make their efforts worthwhile. Arlington has these in spades, but in a pre-pandemic world, companies had to weigh an employee’s commute into office location decisions, often placing the office in the center of an employee residential location heat map.
In a post-pandemic world, where employees are commuting into the office only one to three days a week, being centrally located to employees’ homes becomes of less importance. Companies, instead, can double down on high-quality, engaging offices in vibrant and accessible neighborhoods, with the expectation employees will be willing to make a longer journey knowing it will be less often. Companies that previously bet on bring located inside the beltway to attract the young and highly-educated workforce that resides closer to the city will now be able to double-dip into an additional pool of talented workers who have settled in the region’s suburbs and beyond.
A lot of unknowns still surround the return to the office, but as it draws closer there are reasons to be optimistic that Arlington will continue to be an attractive location to do business in the coming years.
This month, Arlington Economic Development is celebrating innovation and all the business community members that contribute to the innovation economy. From venture capital raises to project announcements, Arlington has kicked off 2021 with great momentum in many areas that contribute to our innovation ecosystem.
In January 2021, Microsoft announced its decision to grow its presence in the Washington, D.C. area with a new lease at 1300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington for its DMV Sales Headquarters. According to a LinkedIn post by Toni Townes-Whitley, President of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft, “[the] new offices will feature a Microsoft Technology Center, state-of-the-art customer facilities, and innovative employee workspaces to support collaboration and innovation.”
In February 2021, Governor Northam announced the location of ZEBOX in Arlington as part of a larger announcement for the Commonwealth. According to the press release, “ZEBOX will assist innovative start-ups in developing new technologies for transportation, logistics, mobilities, and industry 4.0.” This was a great win for Arlington County as the community continues to expand its offerings of co-working and incubator spaces for tech startups.
Also announced in February 2021 was George Mason University’s President’s Advisory Council. This council, comprised of business executives and community leaders in the region, including AED’s director, Telly Tucker, will provide strategic guidance and advocacy to the University’s Arlington innovation initiatives.
Last month, DeepSig announced the opening of its 5G Wireless AI Lab in Rosslyn. According to the press release, “The lab includes an end-to-end 5G network using state-of-art, commercial grade, multi-vendor products and tools. The 5G Wireless AI Lab focuses on measuring and validating machine learning software on over-the-air calls and data using 5G Open virtual radio access network (vRAN) and signal classification for dynamic spectrum allocation and interference mitigation.”
Finally, 2021 has been a great year thus far for venture activity for Arlington-based companies. Since the beginning of 2021, notable deals include Stacklet’s announcement that it secured $18 million Series A funding and WireWheel’s announcement that it raised $20 million in Series B funding. Additionally, CareerGig announced the acquisition of Charlottesville, Virginia-based Moonlighting, a SaaS platform that empowers individuals to build their freelancer profiles and allows businesses to hire talented professionals quickly and affordably, according to a January press release.
All these announcements contribute to the success of Arlingtonʼs innovation ecosystem by helping the community attract and expand the businesses, talent and venture funding to make Arlington an ideal hub for innovation.
March 25 to 26 is American Associations Day. There are more than a hundred business, trade and professional associations based in Arlington. These associations vary widely in size of membership, industry, political inclination and influence. Their membership bases range from individuals and small businesses to large corporations and public agencies located throughout the country and even overseas.
Many of these associations may not be household names, but they play a crucial role in providing a unified lobbying and public relations platform to protect their members’ shared interests. Associations serve their members by providing education, professional development, research, networking and advocacy at the federal, state and local levels — often having national impacts.
It has been a year since COVID-19 changed how we live and work. Similar to all businesses, associations adapted to the new work realities by introducing COVID-specific resources, tools and best practices for their members.
Below we highlight several Arlington associations and describe how they are supporting their members during the pandemic.
Associations Focused on Public Health
No industry was more impacted by the pandemic over the past year than the health care industry. Arlington is unique in having several associations with members on the frontlines combating the virus. These associations represent physicians, nurses and practicing clinicians who provide direct patient care. Some also represent members working in academic and research settings, like scientists, epidemiologists, researchers and medical technologists. Their members are public health experts, and they provide input and policy guidance to government health officials who, in turn, develop recommended guidelines for the public. It’s routine to see these associations mentioned in national and international news media, and their members are interviewed for their expertise.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) are three Arlington associations with members leading the response against the pandemic. As their names suggest, their primary missions are the prevention of infectious diseases.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, these associations quickly developed dedicated COVID-19 webpages to disseminate timely information and resources, along with the latest healthcare guidelines and fact sheets to assist their members in navigating the health crisis. Given that their members are leaders in the field of epidemiology, the associations regularly hosted forums with subject matter experts to discuss the latest research results. The information is directed to their membership base and as resources to assist government officials and members of the public in making informed decisions. The associations also supported their members by advocating to Congress for COVID relief legislation, which includes new funding for vaccination, testing, treatments and medical supplies that have directly impacted patient care.
Associations Representing the Food Industry
Throughout the pandemic, food industry associations have worked tirelessly to keep the nation’s food supply chain intact and to ensure Americans continue to have access to safe food. Once again, Arlington is home to several organizations that play a leading role in aligning this complex industry’s interests and providing a common voice on behalf of its large group of members.
Arlington Economic Development (AED) and its partner organizations offer a variety of resources to businesses as they consider Arlington as a place to establish, locate or expand their operations.
To help businesses identify suitable programs, resources and services, AED launched a user-friendly tool that allows users to filter 30-plus resources by company role and resource type to pinpoint the most appropriate resources for a company’s needs.
A sampling of the resources available to businesses looking to establish, retain, locate or expand operations in Arlington include:
- Arlington County Real Estate Search: AED’s Business Investment Group works with businesses to identify prospective spaces for a relocation or expansion search.
- On-Site Business Retention Visits: AED’s Business Development Managers can assist with solutions and feedback to ensure existing companies’ needs and challenges are being addressed.
- State Workforce Development Programs: AED’s state partner, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, offers financial assistance and training to companies via the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) and the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program.
- Tax and Business Cost Comparisons: AED and its state economic development partners provide business cost comparisons between states and regions for companies evaluating a relocation or expansion using Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s CompareVA website. AED can also provide businesses more detailed cost comparisons locally and regionally.
- University Connections: AED has a number of connections with local community colleges and universities in the region, including George Mason University, Marymount University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, George Washington University and Northern Virginia Community College.
- Workforce and Talent Research: AED can provide detailed economic, workforce and talent research through various labor and talent-market database tools to determine staffing and hiring trends at the city, county and regional levels.
As businesses navigate the resources available to them, AED encourages them to connect with an experienced team member of our Business Investment Group who can discuss the resources in greater detail or facilitate introductions with the appropriate contacts at our partner organizations. These resources are vital to growing our local business community and helping prospective businesses hit the ground running in Arlington County.
This article was written by Susan Soroko, Director of Creative Economy for Arlington Economic Development.
Made in Arlington vendors may not be holding pop-up markets or selling goods in the County Library’s Plaza Shop these days, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t creating new items and selling directly and through various online portals.
While the pandemic has taken its toll on retail, these local artisans and makers are at the ready for celebrating with unique Valentine’s Day options. Some are available to ship, deliver or pickup; many take advance orders. Receiving a locally made gift is sure to sweeten your loved one’s day!
Need some pampering? Elodie’s Naturals puts nature as the main ingredient for skin care products. When educating customers is part of the fun, Elodie’s DIY kits for kids are much more than entertainment. For soap and candle maker All That Yazz, Valentine’s Day inspired heart-shaped foot fizzies offer a relaxing soak.
Sweets, lots of sweets. Arlington favorites, Kingsbury Chocolates and Village Sweet, will be your go-to for handmade chocolates, artfully iced cookies and fresh-baked treats. From artisan truffles to hot chocolate cubes, Kingsbury will satisfy your bonbon desires. Tempted to wake up to muffins, scones or cookies? Village Sweet has something new every day that can be ordered ahead or shopped safely at the entrance. Don’t wait! These Arlington treasures sell fast.
Nothing says love like jewelry. Debra Fabian Jewelry has been creating modern classics that are featured in trunk shows and online. Her artisan pieces are timeless, elegant and designed for special days and any day.
Can’t find the right words? Let Fast Snail do the job with heartfelt messages and illustrations on greeting cards and prints. Love notes travel the globe even if you’re at a loss for words.
Heart-healthy will be your new Valentine this year with edible flowers and super greens from Arlington’s only commercial grower, Fresh Impact Farms. Bathed in pink-tinted lighting, this tech-savvy enterprise takes sustainability and urban agriculture to a new level. And the flavors? Unrivaled.
Classic. Arlington’s new Privé Roses will have you looking no further for the ultimate dozen (or more!) of the flower of love. Quality and presentation in modern containers make these carefully selected blooms cupid approved and packaged to last.
Venture activity is a critical component to a thriving tech ecosystem, providing capital and strategic investment opportunities for startups and high growth ventures to continue to grow and expand.
Although 2020 was anything but ordinary for the business community, it saw some solid venture activity among Arlington-based businesses. According to data collected from Pitchbook.com and independent media sources, Arlington-headquartered companies were involved in over 40 deals totaling more than $14.8 billion from venture capital raises, mergers and acquisitions, strategic corporate investments, and other activity. The top industries represented in the deals included information technology, government contracting, health care, business and consumer products, and financial services. Additionally, Q1 2020 was a record quarter for Arlington-based companies, which logged 16 deals totaling at least $674.8 million in activity.
Venture capital provides investment for startups and high growth ventures that show long-term growth potential. Arlington companies were involved in 23 venture capital deals totaling more than $329.8 million. Some notable raises among Arlington-based companies include:
- MotoRefi, a developer of an automotive refinancing platform, announced a raise of $8.6 million in February 2020.
- HUNGRY Marketplace Inc., an Arlington-based company with a platform connecting top chefs with businesses looking for the best in catered meals, announced a raise of $19.7 million in Series B funding in March 2020.
- Interos, which provides an AI-powered risk management supply chain platform, announced a raise of $17.5 million in Series B in March 2020.
- CareerGig — a technology platform and ecosystem that matches freelance and contract workers to top employers, and with independent access to health and financial benefits exclusively tailored for those in the gig economy — announced its initial Seed funding round in June 2020.
- GoTab secured a $6 million investment to enhance its innovative technology and further bridge the gap between contactless dining and full-service hospitality in September 2020.
Arlington companies were also involved in several mergers and acquisitions, which accounted for 12 deals totaling at least $13.6 billion in activity. Some notable M&A activity includes:
- Arlington-based Incentive Technology Group (ITG) was acquired by Fairfax-based ICF for $255 million in January 2020.
- Arlington-headquartered E*Trade Financial Corporation was acquired by Morgan Stanley for $13 billion, first announced in February 2020 and closed in October 2020.
- Arlington-based Mobile Posse, a developer of an intelligent content discovery platform intended for creating frictionless content experiences on smartphones, was acquired by Austin-based Digital Turbine for $65 million, first announced in February 2020 and completed in March 2020.
- Announced in April 2020, Arlington-based DivvyCloud reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by Boston-based Rapid7 for $145 million.
This activity provides validation for Arlington being an established hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting regional and outside investment across a variety of industries. Arlington Economic Development looks forward to seeing what 2021 has in store for our innovation economy.
It’s the time of the year when our favorite outlets are releasing their “year in review” and… what a year it has been!
I know I’m not alone when I say it’s been a year like no other for our Business Investment Group (BIG) at Arlington Economic Development. Like many others, we quickly learned to do business not as usual. Our “normal” work is to support economic growth through job creation and business expansion in Arlington County, and that all changed in mid-March of this year.
While we did have success retaining and even attracting companies in 2020, preservation was the name of the game this year. In mid-March, we quickly pivoted to focus efforts on checking in with our companies and assisting those that needed help. Success looked a little different this year. If we could help companies access the information and resources they needed to avoid layoffs and shuttering their business, that was a victory. Sometimes, it meant just listening as a business owner shared what they were going through, their concerns, their struggles and their fears.
Our team shifted to provide the services that were needed in our business community in the moment, which was challenging at times, but each team member stepped up without hesitation. The events of this year, which challenged us each personally and professionally, left us stronger as a team and as a business community.
I would like to highlight a few great accomplishments in the face of a brutal 2020. First, the way our department and community came together to stand up the $1.3 million Arlington Small Business Emergency GRANT Program — this was a herculean effort that only succeeded with the contribution of human and financial resources from AED, the Arlington Industrial Development Authority and Arlington’s three Business Improvement Districts. The BIG team played a pivotal role in developing the grant infrastructure as well as fielding calls and requests from hundreds of businesses. Not only did this provide direct assistance to our small businesses, but it strengthened working relationships across AED and within the community, which continue to bear fruit today.
Second, through our efforts to check in regularly with our businesses and provide relevant resources, we developed new ways to stay digitally engaged. The BIG team put together six webinars on a range of relevant topics, built three custom websites, and completed 600-plus touch points with Arlington companies and brokers this year.
Last but not least, we saw many incredibly positive things come out of our business community this year including new retail openings, notable fundraising, business pivots and corporate philanthropy.
As BIG looks ahead to 2021, we are hopeful that “normal” business activity will pick up again as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available and companies feel comfortable making decisions about their office space needs. We have stayed in close contact with our companies and the broker community and, despite our shift from business attraction to business support for much of 2020, the team took advantage of this “pause” to assess what’s been working well and what needs to change to seize opportunities in the months ahead.
We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we are ready for it with a stellar team that’s developed new tools, skill sets and strengthened existing partnerships.
This week, Arlington Economic Development (AED) is hosting the fall edition of its Arlington Premiere.
Arlington Premiere is a biannual event welcoming new businesses to Arlington — connecting new business owners with county resources, business improvement districts, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, and community leaders and resource partners. And as with just about every other event in 2020, Arlington Premiere is pivoting to the virtual space to recognize more than 500 courageous business owners who started their businesses here in the midst of the pandemic.
A total of 511 new businesses received an Arlington business license in the past six months, up slightly from the 475 business licenses issued between October 2019 and March 2020. While starting a new business during a pandemic may be particularly challenging, the Arlington business community seems confident in the future. We’ve welcomed a diverse range of businesses from nonprofits and consulting companies to restaurants, retail and tech companies developing educational software.
While replicating the in-person experience and energy of the traditional Arlington Premiere is no easy task, AED is celebrating the arrival of these new Arlington businesses by introducing them to the community in a slightly different way. By showcasing them on its various social media channels, AED hopes to gain support and exposure for these businesses that are just finding their footing. Additionally, AED is highlighting local business resources and organizations that can help both new and established businesses thrive in Arlington.
This year’s fall edition of Arlington Premiere is, without question, a memorable one, and we want to give a special shoutout to all of Arlington’s new businesses.
In honor of last week’s Veterans Day, AED would like to highlight the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program.
With one of the youngest and fastest growing veteran labor forces in the country, this free training and certification program focuses on why it’s a good business decision for Virginia companies to recruit, hire, train and retain veterans.
Virginia companies who have completed all V3 training requirements and have submitted a veteran hiring plan will be recognized as an official “V3-Certified Company.” Furthermore, V3 qualified companies with fewer than 300 employees may qualify for up to $10,000 in grants, with $1,000 being awarded per eligible veteran that is hired and retained for at least one year.
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) administers the program and has certified more than 1,300 organizations, including public and private companies, federal, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. On October 30, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that more than 67,000 Virginia military veterans have been hired through the V3 program since its inception in 2012, surpassing the goal he set of 65,000 V3 hires by the end of his administration.
Currently, there are more than 70 Arlington organizations participating in the V3 Program, from large companies like Nestlé, Boeing, CACI and Lockheed Martin to mid- and small-size companies like Ideal Innovations, Millennium Corporation, Halfaker Associates and Global Defense Inc. In August 2020, VDVS presented the V3 Military Spouse Award to Amazon for hiring 167 military spouses in 2019.
We encourage Arlington companies to consider becoming V3 certified to better understand the value veterans can bring to their business.
This October, Arlington Economic Development attended the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) 2020 Annual Conference.
IEDC is the largest organization serving the economic development profession, with more than 5,000 members around the world. Like most conferences in 2020, IEDC’s Annual Conference was held in a virtual format, connecting economic developers from all over the globe to discuss a wide range of topics and trends affecting communities and organizations.
During the conference, IEDC held its annual Excellence in Economic Development Awards program, which recognizes organizations with gold, silver and bronze awards for their efforts to promote economic development in urban, suburban and rural communities. This year, IEDC received over 500 submissions to be considered for awards, which are judged by a diverse group of economic developers from around the world.
At this year’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards program, Arlington Economic Development was honored with five awards in several categories for communities with a population of 200,000 to 500,000.
The awards included:
- GOLD for Regionalism and Cross-Border Collaboration, recognizing the regional effort to attract Amazon HQ2 to Arlington County.
- GOLD for Creative Financing, recognizing Arlington County’s Gazelle Grant program — a deal-closing incentive program created in 2017 for fast-growing or “gazelle” technology companies.
- GOLD for Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Initiatives, recognizing the county’s Arlington Premiere event — an annual event where Arlington’s new business owners have the opportunity to meet key leaders of the Arlington business community and learn about resources and assistance available to them.
- SILVER for Resiliency, Recovery and Mitigation, recognizing Arlington’ Small Business Emergency GRANT Program, which provided financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- BRONZE for Economic Equality and Inclusion, recognizing the Innovations in Healthy Aging Startup Competition that took place in November 2019, which was a collaborative initiative between multiple Arlington County departments.
These awards recognize Arlington Economic Development’s best-in-class initiatives and programs to help businesses in Arlington County start, grow and expand in the community.
Arlington Economic Development recently hosted a webinar on the future of Ballston, Arlington’s Bold Future: Innovating Ballston, featuring panelists from Shooshan Companies, George Mason University, Cushman & Wakefield, the Ballston BID and Arlington County. This was the first in a series of webinars focused on the future of Arlington’s economy and placemaking.
As home to DARPA, the Office of Naval Research and the Virginia Tech Research Center, Ballston has historically been a hub of innovation. Funded by federal research grants and commercialized spinoffs, the cutting-edge research happening in Ballston has led to technological advancements around the world as well as an influx of talent, ranking Arlington County amongst the most educated and hardest working populations in the country.
While companies have long been drawn to Ballston for its high-quality office space, prominent federal research institutions, university presence and access to tech and professional talent, the major transformation in Ballston has created a bustling 18/7 environment despite the ongoing pandemic.
The neighborhood has emerged as a more vibrant residential neighborhood with the addition of 2,000 new residential units over the last three years. These developments sit among thousands of existing residential properties, millions of square feet of high-end office space, and the experiential entertainment derived from over $300 million in investments between Ballston Quarter and Ballston Exchange.
Ballston also sits on top of one of the busiest metro stations in the region, with rail access on the Silver and Orange lines connecting workers and residents to D.C., Maryland and western suburban nodes like Ashburn, Reston and Vienna in Virginia. It will soon have direct access to two major airports (Reagan National and Dulles, coming in 2021), making domestic and international connections seamless.
Hundreds of miles of pedestrian and bicycle paths stretch across the region and allow for active commuters to run, bike or walk to the office. This combination of assets gives Ballston and Arlington a truly unmatched environment compared to other commercial districts around the country.
While Ballston is already a top-tier commercial district, it has experienced significant change over the last few years with many exciting new projects in the pipeline. The neighborhood will be welcoming George Mason University’s new Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA), and the $250 million state and University investment in the IDIA will serve as a critical catalyst in accelerating the growing innovation district and high-tech ecosystem along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The 460,000 square foot facility will help support GMU’s new School of Computing, part of the University’s commitment to educate thousands of students in high-tech fields over the next decade. The building will incorporate cyber infrastructure and green technologies, and will support a mix of research, educational programs, corporate innovation labs, coworking and innovation programs for high-growth ventures.
This is all in addition to the $1 billion Virginia Tech Innovation Campus being simultaneously developed in Alexandria. Silicon Valley has Stanford, Atlanta has Georgia Tech, Boston has MIT and Harvard, and Arlington has GMU and neighboring Virginia Tech; the future for Ballston’s tech ecosystem is certainly bright.
Federal innovation has attracted talent to the D.C. metro region for decades, but the emergence of these high-tech university research facilities along with Amazon’s HQ2 project will create a tech talent pipeline that will bolster the region’s image as a tech hub and further place Arlington on the map as a preeminent global tech and innovation hub.