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.
Once again, Arlington made its mark on the annual Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies as 31 local companies qualified, including five that ranked in the top 500.
To qualify for the prestigious list, each company exhibited exponential growth over the preceding three-year period and earned over $2 million in revenue last year. While the companies share several traits that positioned them for success, perhaps the most important is their ability to identify and recruit exceptional talent. Along their growth trajectory, each company was able to assemble a standout team to fuel its rapid expansion.
With Northern Virginia being home to one of the nation’s top talent pools, the Arlington honorees are well-positioned to continue building teams equipped to develop innovative products or provide excellent service to commercial and government entities. Given the desire to remain a member of the Inc. 5000 for years to come, these companies are seeking talent to fill positions in a diverse set of industries, including cybersecurity, government contracting, information technology, marketing and software development.
For job seekers, this presents a unique opportunity to join one of the region’s next leading companies, including Arlington’s highest-ranked and most-recognized companies on the list, Royce Geospatial Consultants and Fors Marsh Group, respectively.
Appearing on the list for the first time, Royce Geospatial Consultants is Arlington’s highest-ranked honoree at #333. The Clarendon-based government contractor reported an impressive three-year growth rate of 1,370% and has openings in in GIS application development, data science, geospatial engineering and software development.
According to Royce Geo’s CEO, David Sterling, “Our number one goal is to provide clients with highly mission focused subject matter experts who think innovatively with a sharp eye on mission. As a company, we operate as an employee first/mission first entity and we believe, if you take care of both with equal attention, everything else takes care of itself.”
On the other end of the appearance spectrum, Fors Marsh Group (FMG) led Arlington companies by earning its eighth-consecutive place on the Inc. 5000. The Ballston-based, Certified B Corporation helps organizations and governmental agencies make research-backed decisions and implement solutions that positively affect customers, employees and the citizens they serve. FMG’s client portfolio has grown in large part due to the talent it recruits from higher education institutions, like George Mason University (GMU), to fill positions in the fields of data science, human capital strategy and policy evaluation.
Fors Marsh Group’s Senior Vice President and GMU alumni, Brian Griepentrog says, “The talent in our local undergraduate and advanced degree programs is simply world class, and cultivating these partnerships is central to our company’s success. And is one reason almost one-third of our almost 300 employees have a degree from a local D.C. Metro university.”
For more information on Fors Marsh Group, Royce Geospatial Consultants and all of Arlington’s 31 companies on the Inc. 5000, Arlington Economic Development’s webpage provides a snapshot of each company and its current career opportunities.
Last week marked National Nonprofit Day, founded on August 17, 2017, the goal of the day is to educate, enlighten, and empower others to make a difference, as well as acknowledge the industry’s dedicated workforce.
While National Nonprofit Day is a recent addition to the national day calendar, the positive impacts of the nonprofit industry trace back over a century to the Tariff Act of 1894’s passing on that same date. The Act imposed the first federal income tax on corporations, while including exemptions for nonprofit corporations and charitable institutions.
Over one hundred years later, the nonprofit industry has grown to employ 12.3 million people and is supported by 64 million board members and volunteers, according to the National Council of Nonprofits.
Given the proximity to the Nation’s capital and access to a talented workforce, Arlington has been a magnet for nonprofits as the County is currently home to nearly 300 organizations and their 8,700 employees. While the missions of these organizations cover a diverse set of issues, several nonprofit clusters have emerged in Arlington focusing on the following issues:
From leading conservation efforts that improve fishing in the country’s streams and rivers to protecting millions of acres of land worldwide, Arlington nonprofits are ensuring the planet’s health for future generations. The environmental cluster is home to Arlington’s largest nonprofit, The Nature Conservancy, which employs nearly 500 people at its Ballston headquarters and has protected more than 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide since its founding in 1951.
Health and Wellness
As the world grapples with the effects of COVID-19, several Arlington nonprofits are addressing the needs of their target communities through creative initiatives. The National Council on Aging is combating social isolation for older adults by partnering with Airbnb to provide free online experiences to connect seniors with others and travel virtually during the pandemic.
The impact of Arlington’s nonprofit community reaches well beyond the borders of the United States, as a handful of organizations are improving lives around the globe. Following a devastating drought in 2017, Counterpart International is implementing a food security program in Senegal that will improve infrastructure and train individuals for a sustainable future.
Whether ensuring access to meals and shelter for individuals who are facing homelessness, or facilitating adoptions for thousands of animals annually, several nonprofits are dedicated to serving our local community. Over the past year, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network provided 38,000 meals and offered overnight beds to 1,000 people through their shelter program.
In honor of National Nonprofit Day, Arlington Economic Development highlighted over two dozen nonprofits within these clusters, while connecting the Arlington community with opportunities to get involved, whether in our local neighborhoods or in the furthest reaches of the globe.
As companies throughout Arlington begin to make plans for a return to the workplace, Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce have partnered to release the Return to the Workplace Toolkit. The toolkit is a resource designed to aid Arlington’s businesses in safely welcoming back employees and customers when they choose to do so.
The toolkit consists of an online collection of signage and informational materials that businesses may print and display in their spaces. The two organizations are also printing 1,000 copies of the two most critical posters, with content designed by the CDC and required under Forward Virginia guidance.
Arlington businesses may pick up copies of the two posters and a complimentary mask at a distribution event to be held Wednesday, August 12 from 2-4 p.m. at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, 2009 14th Street N., Suite 100.
The online toolkit features numerous printable posters and additional digital resources aimed at educating business leaders and employees, including several recorded webinars with additional return-to-work webinars scheduled for the coming months.
The goal of the digital toolkit is to organize and simplify the abundance of information and guidelines on returning to the workplace for Arlington companies grappling with the responsibility and complexities associated with such a decision. The content will continue to grow and adapt as the needs of the business community continue to develop.
Arlington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Kate Bates, reaffirms this. “Operating a business in standard times takes a tremendous amount of work,” Bates said. “The coronavirus pandemic has brought an unparalleled hardship to our businesses as they work to pivot their operations while keeping their employees and customers safe. We want to help make it just a bit easier to keep up with the regulations and best practices by compiling the key materials into this toolkit.”
AED Director, Telly Tucker, has directed staff to focus on initiatives that will support the business community in safely bringing employees back into the office when appropriate. “While the timing of a large return to the office is still uncertain for many companies, AED’s goal is to ensure that the business community feels welcomed, supported, and prepared to return to the office when they choose to do so,” said Tucker. “The digital toolkit resources are meant to help inform these decisions and ease the burden on Arlington businesses when a decision to return is made.”