Arlington’s population of engineers and project managers will grow by 100 by 2017 as San Francisco-based disruptive technology firm Shift builds a technology operation in Crystal City.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today that Shift will invest $20 million in its East Coast engineering center in Arlington as part of its national expansion. The announcement was made during a reception at Crystal City business incubator 1776, where the company will have its local headquarters.
Shift executive Toby Russell said the company’s disruptive technology does for the automotive industry what Airbnb does for hotels. “We use technology to make buying and selling cars easy and delightful,” he said. Consumers input information about the car they want to sell into the Shift website, get a quote, have their car picked up by a Shift employee and then receive a check when the car sells. Shift handles paperwork, test drives and price negotiations.
Shift has raised $73.8 million in two public offerings.
Russell, who is originally from Alexandria, said he would like to see the Shift “serve as a bridge between Silicon Valley and Virginia. We believe this kind of bridging is what technology expansion [in the region] needs.”
Russell added that it was McAuliffe’s visit to the firm’s California headquarters that convinced them to build the engineering center in Virginia.
Arlington County Board Chairman Libby Garvey, in presenting a key to the county to Russell, applauded the arrival of a technology company as federal spending in the region winds down.
“Arlington is in the midst of a surreal change,” she said. “Having our buildings filled with federal agencies is a thing of the past.”
— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) January 21, 2016
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency for Virginia in response to the winter storm expected to slam the region tomorrow and Saturday.
McAuliffe declared the state of emergency around 8 a.m. this morning to allow Virginia businesses, residents and officials to prepare for the impending snow, and urged them to prepare right away.
“Keeping Virginians safe in the event of severe weather is our top concern – that is why Virginia began preparing for severe winter weather yesterday by ordering more than 500 vehicles out to pretreat roads in Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a press release. “All Virginians should take the threat of this storm seriously and take necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”
The storm is expected to bring double-digit snowfall and wind gusts up to roughly 40 miles per hour Friday and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. About an inch of snowfall snarled traffic and caused dozens of accidents across the area last night.
Virginia officials issued the following tips for staying safe during the storm (after the jump). (more…)
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a $750,000 award to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) today during a ceremony at the Arlington Mill Community and Senior Center in south Arlington.
The funds, said APAH president and CEO Nina Janopaul, will go toward the construction of Columbia Hills Apartments, a new 229-apartment building scheduled to begin in May at South Frederick Street and Columbia Pike. The building will be erected in the parking lot of Columbia Grove Apartments, another APAH property.
“There are multiple financing tools, and this is an important piece of it,” Janopaul told ARLnews.com. “These funds will make [rents] more affordable for our residents and give us an opportunity to do a better job” of providing affordable housing.
Eleven nonprofits throughout the commonwealth received funding from the $6 million Virginia Housing Trust Fund Competitive Loan Pool during Tuesday’s ceremony. Along with two Richmond organizations, APAH’s $750,000 was the most granted to a regional housing nonprofit.
“On behalf of all the citizens of Virginia, I thank you,” McAuliffe told the audience in a fifth floor conference room at Arlington Mill. “Think of all the lives you have helped.”
Left to right: Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade; Nina Janopaul, APAH President/CEO; Gov. Terry McAuliffe; John Milliken, APAH Board Chairman; and Mike Chiappa, APAH Real Estate Associate; Photo by Jon Grant
Following the terror attacks in Paris, there has been a backlash against plans to bring refugees from Syria’s bloody civil war to the U.S. More than half of the nation’s governors — mostly Republicans — have expressed opposition to hosting Syrian refugees in their states.
In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) says he will not ban refugees from the Commonwealth. Arlington, meanwhile, says it’s ready to help refugees who are sent to the county.
“While there is no official role for the Arlington County government in resettlement decisions or in receiving refugees, we have expressed our interest in serving as a receiving community for refugees,” said Brian Stout, Arlington County’s federal liaison.
Once in Arlington, the county’s Dept. of Human Service would offer a number of free services to refugees through its Community Outreach Program, including:
- Citizenship classes and workshops
- English language classes
- Computer classes
- Job readiness training
- Food and nutrition classes
- Health screenings and presentations
Those services are available in Arabic and other languages, according to information on refugee resettlement in Arlington provided to ARLnow.com. The document also states that county staff is able to “signal our interest in assisting” with refugee resettlement by communicating “the benefits of Arlington as a placement site to the State Department and the placement agencies.”
In order to come to Arlington, a refugee would either need to have family in the area, or it would need to be determined by federal authorities that Arlington was best suited to the refugee’s needs. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement would refer the refugee to the Virginia Dept. of Social Services, which would in turn refer him or her to the local, contracted refugee service provider — which for Arlington is Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.
So far, the county is unaware of any Syrian refugees that have been resettled in Arlington, Stout said. ARLnow.com was unable to reach Catholic Charities for comment.
Per security concerns about ISIS-affiliated terrorists posing as refugees, Gov. McAuliffe’s office said in a statement that each refugee “undergoes intensive security screening” from federal authorities. Even so, McAuliffe has also specifically asked his homeland security secretary to “ensure that every proper precaution is taken to keep Virginians safe.”
Republicans in the House of Delegates say they will introduce legislation early next year to ban Syrian refugees from Virginia.
Arlington County, along with other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, is currently conducting a blanket and coat drive for Syrian refugees.
Metro announced yesterday that Paul Wiedefeld, the former CEO of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, has been selected as the agency’s next General Manager and CEO.
Following a lengthy search process, the WMATA Board of Directors is expected to make Wiedefeld’s appointment official on Nov. 19.
With Metro in turmoil due to ongoing rail service reliability problems and financial challenges, state officials and lawmakers welcomed the appointment of an experienced executive to Metro’s top post.
From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.):
“Today’s news concludes a period of uncertainty for Metro. Paul Wiedefeld’s transportation and executive experience gives him the tools to provide WMATA with the leadership a first class transit system needs. I look forward to working with him to ensure a safe, reliable future for Metro as a critical part of the national capitol area’s transportation infrastructure.”
From Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe:
“I am pleased to see that the WMATA Board has unanimously chosen Paul Wiedefeld to lead the agency as its General Manager and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Wiedefeld’s significant experience in managing safety and operations in the transit industry will surely serve him well as he steps into his role with Metro. I am hopeful that this appointment, though overdue, will give WMATA the stability and expertise it needs to produce meaningful change across the agency. I look forward to Mr. Wiedefeld’s formal confirmation by the Board on November 19th.”
A joint statement from U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.):
“We’re pleased to finally see this progress in bringing on new management for Metro after a year-long search.
“As federal lawmakers, we have been strong advocates and effective partners for Metro. In his years of service to BWI, Mr. Wiedefeld has proven himself to be a creative and successful infrastructure manager in the public sector. We are eager to meet with him to emphasize our shared commitment and steady focus on turning-around the troubled Metro system.
“We’re prepared to work with Mr. Wiedefeld as he accepts the challenge of improving the safety and reliability of this pivotal regional investment for Metro passengers and visitors to the national capital region.”
After a jump, a press release from the recently-formed WMATA Riders’ Union.
The Virginia governor will be speaking to students at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) about career paths in cybersecurity tomorrow, Oct. 28, from 1:15-3 p.m.
McAuliffe will be joined by a panel of cyber security professionals who will talk about the different jobs in cybersecurity as well as the resources students need to pursue a career.
“The nation is in need of a strong cybersecurity workforce. The demand for skilled cyber professionals is at an all-time high, and will only increase as our country and world grow more dependent on cyber and information technology,” Arlington Public Schools said in a statement.
The panelists will talk about the average day of a cybersecurity specialist, what interested them in a cyber career and how they got their start. They will also perform a Wi-Fi Watering Hole attack demonstration.
The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015.
Arlington K-9s to Retire With Handlers — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously voted to officially sanction the transfer of ownership of retiring law enforcement K-9 officers to their handlers, thus allowing police dogs to live out their lives with their long-time partners. [NBC Washington, Arlington County]
Big Changes Coming to Crystal City Building — The U.S. Marshals Service is consolidating its offices into one Crystal City office building. That will leave another Crystal City office building, 1750 Crystal Drive, vacant. Owner Vornado is planning a big facelift for the building, with more glass and steel and less concrete on the outside. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington, Falls Church Renew Service Agreement — Arlington County will continue to provide court, jail, fire department and other services to the City of Falls Church, under a new agreement approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday. Fall Church will pay Arlington just over $1 million per year for the services. [Arlington County]
McAuliffe to Start Marine Corps Marathon — Next weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon will be officially started by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. [Twitter]
M.J. Stewart Suspended at UNC — Former Yorktown High School football standout M.J. Stewart has been suspended from the University of North Carolina football team after being charged with assault in connection to an off-campus altercation. Stewart, a sophomore, had been a starting cornerback on the team. [Associated Press]
Resident to County: Cover Sandboxes — A Shirlington resident spoke before the County Board on Saturday to raise concern about uncovered sandboxes. She urged county officials to keep sandboxes covered when not in use, to keep pets and disease out. [InsideNova]
McAuliffe declared the state of emergency to allow Virginia businesses, residents and officials to prepare for the impending storms.
“I cannot stress enough the imperative for Virginians to focus on the rainstorms that are headed our way tomorrow and Friday, well before Hurricane Joaquin could potentially impact Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “The forecast of up to 10 inches of rain in areas across Virginia could result in floods, power outages and a serious threat to life and property. As we continue to track the path of Hurricane Joaquin, I have instructed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to make every preparation for a major event Thursday and Friday.”
The nor’easter is expect to hit the area Thursday and Friday bringing a prolonged period of torrential rain and the potential for dangerous flooding, McAuliffe said in a statement. The rain may continue as Hurricane Joaquin approaches.
Joaquin is currently expected to make landfall at some point on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The hurricane’s possible trajectory has it hitting North Carolina around 2 p.m. on Sunday and moving through Virginia, D.C. and Maryland Sunday and Monday. Another path, however, predicts Joaquin will bypass the East Coast completely.
Joaquin is currently a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 85 miles per hour and is floating around the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands, according to NWS.
Virginia officials issued the following tips for staying safe when flooding is expected (after the jump).
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe continues to display effective leadership by tirelessly promoting economic development. McAuliffe is:
1. Working to end Virginia’s over-reliance on federal defense spending, and
2. Seeking to diversify Virginia’s economy to take up the slack.
McAuliffe was here in Arlington two weeks ago highlighting cybersecurity and biotechnology as two areas particularly poised for growth.
According to the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, the decline in federal spending has contributed to a region-wide shift from higher-paying jobs — government contractor and subcontractor — to lower paying jobs:
The shift has helped drive down the region’s gross regional product, an indicator of an economy’s health, by nearly $243 million since last year. Fewer highly paid workers, in turn, has led to … higher office vacancy rates and–year after year–reductions in the projected flow of tax dollars that help pay for schools, roads and other government services.
Stephen Fuller, the Director of the Center for Regional Analysis, underscored the problem:
“We’ve just had it easy for so long that we’ve never had to work at this.” Steady increases in federal spending, which reached a peak of $80.7 billion in 2010, kept the Washington region relatively stable during the recession. But it also fostered a false sense of security. “The message is clear: We need to rebrand ourselves and promote our assets.”
Fuller’s message is exactly the gospel that McAuliffe relentlessly continues to preach:
We have to build our own new economy, less reliant on the federal government, bring in new businesses, new interests. That’s what [my] focus has been since taking office in 2014. In slightly more than a year as governor, there have been 350 economic development projects and $6.3 billion in economic activity.
McAuliffe has stressed the importance of workforce development, credentialing, and apprenticeships: “Virginia needs to keep pace with employers’ needs if it wants to retain large companies. [We] need to cater to the large veteran population in Virginia by offering certifications for skills learned in the military.”
He is working closely with Senators Kaine and Warner to block the next round of federal automatic across-the-board sequestration cuts. Those cuts currently are scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2015. In a nutshell, McAuliffe’s message on sequestration is: “there have to be smarter ways to cut the federal budget.”
The Arlington County government cannot rely on the federal government gravy train the way Arlington has in the past. We need to spend every one of our tax dollars wisely. Kudos to Governor McAuliffe for:
- candidly explaining the situation, and
- highlighting what all Virginia leaders must do to adjust to our new economic realities.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe likes to talk big, especially when it comes to economic development, so he wasn’t shy about his ambitions when he visited Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices today to chat with dozens of entrepreneurs.
“When people talk about Silicon Valley, I want them to talk about Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe fielded questions from the entrepreneurs, including the founders of Zoobean, uKnow, Ostendio and Local News Now, asking them to tell him what he can do to grow the innovation economy, and how they want him to help.
“I want you to stay here and raise families here,” he said. “Do whatever you have to do to stay in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I want you all to be fabulously successful and pay taxes here.”
Whenever McAuliffe speaks in public, he likes to throw around statistics about Virginia’s economy — the commonwealth has the second-most tech workers of any state in the country — and his accomplishments as governor — he’s brought more investment into the state already than the four previous governors combined he said.
He highlighted several key areas where he expects the tech sector in Virginia to thrive, among them cybersecurity and biotechnology. His 23-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son’s Social Security numbers were stolen in the Anthem Blue Cross breach, which he said just hit home how important cybersecurity is. Virginia has the most cybersecurity firms in the country, he pointed out.
At the same time, he said he wants more growth in the biotech world. Within his first few months as governer, McAuliffe was at a national biotech conference alongside Govs. Jerry Brown of California and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. As the three state executives sat on stage, the hosts put a graphic of the 25 best states for biotechnology companies.
Massachusetts and California were Nos. 1 and 2 on that list, he said. Virginia wasn’t on it.
“It started to get a little uncomfortable for me,” he said with a laugh and a shrug. “[The National Institutes of Health] is just 11 miles from here. Maryland has done a great job on biotech, but we have much lower taxes. There’s no reason we can’t do better. California and Massachusettes should be nervous.”
McAuliffe said the White House will soon announced where a several-hundred thousand square foot cybersecurity campus will be placed, and he’s fighting to win it for Virginia. With the data centers in Loudoun County and the dark fiber in Arlington, the region is positioned to attract more and more technology companies.
The heralded 1776 tech incubator and seed fund is moving into Crystal City, bringing tech bonafides and millions of dollars with it.
Today, on the roof of 220 20th Street S., Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes, Vornado CEO Mitchell Shear, 1776 co-founders Evan Burfield and Donna Harris and former Disruption Corporation CEO, and now 1776 Managing Director, Paul Singh joined forces to make the announcement.
“We’re proud that this new partnership will be anchored in Crystal City, which is increasingly becoming a globally-recognized home for world-changing startups,” McAuliffe said. “This new, unprecedented level of regional collaboration removes the traditional regional boundaries, creating tremendous opportunity for broad-based economic growth that benefits the entire region, and offering a model for future, long-term economic growth throughout Virginia and the D.C. Metro area.”
As part of its deal to expand in Crystal City, 1776 acquired Singh’s Disruption Corporation, a combination of a venture fund and financial advisory firm. Disruption’s headquarters on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive will be 1776’s base of operations in Arlington, according to Crystal City Business Improvement District Angela Fox.
“One of the beauties of Crystal City is there is so much space to expand, and if they do well, that’s certainly the thinking in all of this,” Fox told ARLnow.com this afternoon.
Earlier this week, 1776 announced a partnership with Montgomery County, and the incubator’s announcement today makes it one of the, if not the premier, dominant forces in the D.C. area technology space. In 1776’s new headquarters, it will already have member companies like Bloompop, Power Supply and Onomono Media.
1776 also hosts the Challenge Festival, an international, weeklong festival aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs in the energy, education, health and transportation sectors. The company anticipates more than 10,000 industry members will attend, and the opening party will be in Crystal City, at 2121 Crystal Drive, on May 8 from 7:00-11:00 p.m.
The incubator hopes to leverage the still-significant hub of government agencies and contractors in Crystal City, as well as the close proximity to the Pentagon, in its latest expansion.
“This region’s growing innovation economy and its future economic growth are closely linked, which is why at 1776 we’ve focused our attention on creating new opportunities for regional innovation and unfettered access to the networks that exist across regional borders,” 1776 co-founder Donna Harris said in a press release. “Between our partnership with Vornado and the acquisition of Disruption, this exciting new venture will allow us to bring together ALL the tremendous assets this region has to offer, from the NIH and MedStar in Bethesda to the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin in Crystal City, and create one of the most vibrant technology communities in the country.”
Photo via @1776
Dems Debate in Ballston — The six Democratic candidates for County Board faced off in their first debate last night, before a standing-room only crowd at the NRECA conference center in Ballston. The debate was held by Arlington Young Democrats. Though knowledgable about current issues facing Arlington, candidates were light on specifics about what should be done to address those issues. [InsideNova]
Disruption Corp. Sold to 1776 — Disruption Corp., the Crystal City-based tech investment fund and office space, has been acquired by D.C.-based tech incubator 1776. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. [Washington Post]
Caps Pep Rally at Elementary School — Third grade students at Carlin Springs Elementary School have won a contest to bring a Washington Capitals playoff pep rally to their school today. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. “There won’t likely be any players, but it will be a great time for all,” a teacher tells ARLnow.com. “The kids will be getting prizes, pictures with Slapshot (the Caps’ mascot) and learning some hockey skills. The Caps are also donating equipment to the school.” [Washington Capitals]
Artisphere ‘Doomed from the Start’ — Artisphere, which is on the budgetary chopping block next week, was “doomed from the start,” according to the artistic director of a theatre company that was booted out of its space at the cultural center two years after it opened. An anonymous Artisphere employee said of the early, over-optimistic attendance and revenue projections: “All of those numbers were so completely false.” [Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Special Needs Bill in Arlington — On Tuesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to Arlington to sign the ABLE Act, which will allow individuals with special needs, and their families, to set up tax-exempt accounts that will allow them to save for future living expenses. Virginia is the first state to enact such legislation, which received the blessing of the U.S. Congress in December. [WJLA]
Security of Va. Voting Machines Blasted — The touch screen voting machines now being replaced in Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia were “so easy to hack, it will take your breath away,” according to reports. [Ars Technica, The Guardian]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) held a roundtable discussion on the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act today at Arlington Mill Community Center.
McAuliffe and Beyer joined federal Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to host about a dozen healthcare professionals, customers, legislators and healthcare business leaders and talk about the impacts of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and the future of Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
“This is Virginia, the birthplace of our nation in 1607,” McAuliffe said. “We have a responsibility [to expand health insurance coverage].”
Dels. Patrick Hope and Alfonso Lopez were in attendance, as were state Sen. Barbara Favola and Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada. Hope pointed out that an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia would immediately cover 5,000 Arlington residents.
“We have got to solve this problem in Virginia,” Hope said.
Much of the discussion centered around the impact felt by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, not the absence of an expanded Medicaid. Beyer told a story about a worker at his car dealership who, before the ACA’s passage, couldn’t put his sick wife on health insurance because she had a pre-existing condition. The ACA made it illegal for insurance companies to deny insurance based on pre-existing conditions.
“I really think the Affordable Care Act will be remembered as the most significant moral legislation of the early 21st century,” Beyer said. “There was the Emancipation Proclamation, women’s suffrage, Social Security and now the Affordable Care Act.”
Burwell touted numbers that she say prove the ACA has started to accomplish its goals. Since 2010, 16.4 million fewer Americans are uninsured, she said, and hospitals saved $7.4 billion in 2014 in uncompensated care costs — what happens when a patient cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
Still, Burwell said, more than 60 percent of the uncompensated care savings came from states that have approved Medicaid expansion. That’s money McAuliffe said would go back into the Virginia economy if the legislature were to approve his recommendation.
“Talking to governors from states that have expanded, it’s not only given them healthcare, it’s a huge job creator,” he said.
McAuliffe pushed hard to get the Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass Medicaid expansion during its legislative session, but his attempts failed — partly, he said, because of GOP legislators’ fears of being beaten by a Tea Party candidate in a primary. Next year, McAuliffe believes the legislature will be more willing to close the coverage gap.
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with founders and executives from the Tandem NSI initiative in Rosslyn on Friday, discussing ideas for how the state government can help startups grow.
Six companies from Tandem NSI — a public-private partnership between Arlington Economic Development and investment firm Amplifier Ventures focusing on turning national security innovations into private sector businesses– were on hand to demonstrate their products for McAuliffe.
“There are 31,000 tech jobs open in Northern Virginia that we cannot fill,” McAuliffe told the crowd of a few dozen entrepreneurs and staffers from the county. “We have 840,000 veterans in Virginia. Let’s get them credentialed and trained so they can join the workforce.”
McAuliffe seemed receptive to some new ideas the entrepreneurs had. One said that the Center for Innovative Technology Gap Funding that the state provides to Virginia-based startups isn’t enough.
“CIT gives $50,000 to cybersecurity firms,” said Steven Chen, a board member with Blue Venture Investors. “That doesn’t really move the needle. A company can move to Maryland and get $2 million.”
Another member of the audience said they had a product in testing, but the step from testing to the first client is a source of anxiety. She recommended the state become an early adopter of some startup technologies, both to help the state innovate and give credibility to Virginia startups.
“I think some of the startups that may have applications for us should come to us first,” McAuliffe said, telling his secretary of technology, Karen Jackson, to explore the possibility. “If we could be the first customer for a startup, that would be a great idea.”
McAuliffe pointed out that Virginia will continue to see its jobs from the Department of Defense cut due to sequestration over the next two years, and that the “Virginia economy of old where we relied on the federal government is over.”