Tysons, VA

(Updated 11/21/19) A recruiting company in Tysons wants to hire hundreds of employees in Tysons — making them the largest job creator in recent months in Fairfax County.

In the third quarter of 2019, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced that 14 companies are adding 456 jobs to the county — including 358 positons in Tysons.

Randstad North America, Inc., an IT recruiting and staffing firm whose parent company is based in the Netherlands, announced they will add 300 information technology jobs in fiscal year 2020.

INADEV, another information technology company, is the runner up for job creation in Tysons for the third quarter by bringing 25 jobs to the area.

Here is the alphabetical list of the rest of the companies bringing jobs into Fairfax County:

Companies in the Tysons area also topped the list for the most added jobs when FCEDA worked with 35 businesses in the second quarter.

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The Town of Vienna has hired a business development manager in Arlington County to help revitalize local businesses.

The town recently announced that Natalie Monkou, an Annadale resident, will be the town’s first-ever economic development manager.

Monkou worked in Arlington County for four years, serving as a liaison between the county and three business improvement districts, according to a press release. She also worked as the special assistant to Prince George’s County’s deputy chief of economic development.

“There is so much change happening in Vienna and around the region right now,” Monkou said in the town’s press release. “Because the area is transforming, it’s definitely an opportunity to think strategically and creatively about what economic development and viability will mean for our community and how we can remain competitive and be inclusive and strong.”

Monkou plans to hold a “listening tour,” where she will visit local businesses, according to the press release.

“I plan to get feedback from as many community stakeholder groups as possible,” she said.

Town Manager Mercury Payton said that Monkou stood out because of her economic development experience in Prince George’s and Arlington counties.

Payton’s first goal for the new role is to connect with more businesses so that the town can better learn how to help them more, according to the press release. Secondly, Payton wants Monkou to collaborate with Fairfax County’s economic development office.

“This is an exciting time for the Town,” Payton said. “Having a strong person in this new and critical function may be a catalyst to achieving levels of success that the Town hasn’t yet experienced.”

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An annual campaign in the City of Falls Church this month encourages locals to spend money locally.

The Falls Church #LiveLocalFC campaign invites community members to take advantage of stores and services within city limits while participating in social media challenges for prizes through the end of November.

There is a bingo card online that participants can complete and post on social media with the #LiveLocalFC hashtag to qualify them for weekly prizes, though it is not clear what the prizes will be. The bingo card presents challenges such as “meet a local business owner,” “have food delivered” and “support a non-profit.”

Residents are encouraged to have 20% or more of their shopping or monthly spending happen within the city.

Councilmember Ross Litkenhous began the campaign along with other councilmembers and the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce.

“Last year we kicked off the live local campaign,” Litkenhous said. “Those efforts really paid off.”

The city manager and chief financial officer said the sales and meal tax revenue from last year following the campaign exceeded expectations by over $750,000, according to Litkenhous.

The initiative offers other benefits, including economic development in the city, a boosted sense of community, increased funding for schools and infrastructure, easement of traffic, reduction of pollutants into the environment and creation of jobs, according to a press release.

November was chosen as #LiveLocal month because the holiday season is around the corner and many people are starting to shop for gifts, Litkenhous said.

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(Updated 10/25/19) The City of Falls Church is a 10-minute drive from rapidly expanding Tysons, but members of the Falls Church City Council want to maintain the feeling of a small community while still capitalizing on innovation and growth.

The City of Falls Church operates as an independent entity under the Falls Church City Council while Tysons still has no official governing body of its own, outside that of Fairfax County.

Councilmember Ross Litkenhous said that Falls Church wants to stay unique and its small population and efficient city council allows the city to stay “agile.”

“We are by no means trying to keep up with anybody,” he said.

Tysons Reporter talked to the councilmembers, seeking their input about the future of Falls Church.

“Always Been a Cut-Through”

Several councilmembers said the city is already seeing increased traffic thanks to Tysons’ urban sprawl.

The increase in traffic was brought on by the tolls on I-66 and the increasing popularity of apps like Google Maps, Litkenhous said.

Litkenhous worked in commercial development for 10 years before becoming a councilmember.

Councilmembers were originally told by the Virginia Department of Transportation that the addition of freeways tolls around the area would not impact traffic flow, he said, but people started driving through the city to avoid the tolls.

Now, the city is faced with concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety that come with more traffic. Litkenhous cited several incidences concerning the safety of residents, especially kids.

There have been a few pedestrian deaths in the last few months in the Falls Church area, which are spurring discussions with officials.

But, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly noted that it is important to remember that “Falls Church has always been a cut-through” and a “crossroad” in the Northern Virginia area.

“Mini Tysons”

In August, the city broke ground on a new project that focuses on improving pedestrian access and traffic flow near the upcoming George Mason High School.

The $15 million infrastructure investment will make the area safer and open up accessibility to the future mixed-use retail space, Cindy Mester, the Falls Church Assistant City Manager, said.

The mixed-use retail space is being developed by the same people who built the Wharf in D.C., Mester said, adding there will be a grocery store, a senior living facility, an arts center, restaurants and retail shops in the development.

Mester referred to the upcoming space as Falls Church’s own “Mini Tysons.”

Enticing Techies

When it comes to the evolution within the city’s limits, Litkenhous supports the idea of Falls Church evolving as a tech hub.

“Here in Falls Church, we’ve had a chance to capitalize on the indirect spinoff [of Tysons],” Litkenhous said.

With the new startups and tech companies in Tysons, it allows local high school students to take on fellowships or internships with innovative and entrepreneurial companies, according to Litkenhous, further encouraging students to pursue STEM-related fields.

With the new startups and tech companies in Tysons, it allows local high school students to take on fellowships or internships with innovative and entrepreneurial companies, according to Litkenhous.

Though Litkenhous said he would love to have some of these companies move into Falls Church, he realizes offices are limited and added that a co-working space within city limits would be a solution. “We can’t work in a vacuum here and we recognize that,” he said. 

A Stroll in a New Direction 

Unlike Tysons through, Litkenhous said Falls Church focuses on small businesses and walkability within city limits. “We’ve got Tysons beat on walkability by a mile.” 

Last year, the City Council started the “Live Local Campaign,” sparked by Litkenhous, which encourages people to eat, play and spend money within the city’s limits.

Councilmember Phil Duncan said he keeps tabs on local businesses moving into the city and tries to support them by attending grand openings.

“I think there’s a good mix of big names and more local, family-run businesses,” he said, adding that some businesses that would have previously passed up Falls Church might realize that it is a new market.

“This whole area will become a great American city,” Duncan said.

Coming up in November, the city will host its second “Live Local Campaign” to encourage people to spend money within the community by eating at local restaurants and shopping for holiday gifts from small companies.

Both Litkenhous and Connelly said they want people to follow in their example and take advantage of all the dining and shopping options within the area.

Ultimately, Mester said she thinks the people in Falls Church help to make it special and unique.

“We have a caring and wonderful workforce,” she said. 

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Wawa hosted a celebration in Vienna this morning (Sept. 24) to mark the company’s new location opening in April.

Dozens of people showed up to the event, which featured a virtual reality tour of the upcoming location, food and drink samples and speeches from and other local politicians. 

At the event, a company spokesperson said that the company is planning a grand opening party on April 10 at 465 W. Maple Avenue. The 6,200-square-foot convenience store plans to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This will be the first location that features a partnership with Tesla, John Poplawski, Wawa’s director of site acquisition and development, said. Instead of a traditional gas station, the Vienna location will feature eight charging stations for electric cars.

“The Vienna store will be Wawa’s first retrofit store, and the first non-fuel store in Virginia in 20 years,” a press release said, “Wawa hopes to have 40 new stores in the Northern Virginia market over the next 15 years.”

The expansion plans will bring more than 2,000 new jobs to the Northern Virginia area, according to a company spokesperson at the event.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) spoke at the Wawa event this morning and said that these new jobs will help draw young people to the city and boost economic development in the area.

“We are very excited to have you coming into town,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco addressed the crowd before the “coming soon” sign reveal. “We hope you’ll be a good neighbor.”

Within the last few months, Wawa instituted a catering option, spokesperson Alyson Mucha said, adding that many locations also offer freshly baked goods and customers can expect the same thing at the new locations in northern Virginia.

To continue Wawa’s philanthropic work across the country, the company pledged at the event $30,000 to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run in Northern Virginia, which raises funds and awareness for the Special Olympics.

Wawa executives at the event said they hope the new location in Vienna becomes a gathering space for the community.

“This is a space that was looking to be revitalized,” Poplawski said. “This is an opportunity to bring everything Wawa offers to the Town of Vienna.”

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The Town of Vienna is seeking funding from Fairfax County to help fund a plan to address vacancies plaguing Maple Avenue.

The town approached the county earlier this year to split the costs of an economic development strategy and market study totaling $100,000, Scott Sizer from the Department of Economic Initiatives said. The town set aside its $50,000 half when it approved its fiscal year 2020 budget.

“Primarily they are concerned with some of the vacancy rates that they are seeing, particularly in the retail properties along Maple Avenue,” Sizer told the Board of Supervisors during a Budget Committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

The town has a 15% vacancy rate with 138 vacant spaces — 68 of which are on Maple Avenue, Sizer said.

The new strategy and study — which could take up to 9-12 months to complete — are meant to revitalize Maple Avenue and find more efficient use of resources to address the vacancies, along with discovering how to aid business recruitment and place-making strategies, Sizer said.

“Frankly retail vacancies are a problem all over the county,” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said at the meeting. “We tend to have come up with a formula of mixed-use that has something above but always ground floor retail and not always is it sustainable.”

Smyth said that the vacancies are not just an issue for Vienna, urging her fellow board members to look “at this on a bigger scale… we need to get a better grip on what’s working.”

The town has already started some efforts to revitalize local businesses. The Town of Vienna created a new economic development manager position earlier this year and is currently recruiting the position, Sizer said.

County staff reviewed the proposal in June and recommend that the county provide the funding.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust agreed with the staff’s recommendation, calling the funding “a smart investment for the county.”

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Tysons may soon get a rebranding to encourage economic growth.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering investing up to $1 million dollars in the Tysons Partnership, which plans to rebrand the area while establishing a “sustainable business and funding model” for the nonprofit association.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth introduced the proposal, which also is backed by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, to the board on Tuesday, July 30.

“The Tysons Partnership is implementing a multi-year, place branding strategy and campaign for Tysons. They have engaged with a design firm to develop a place branding strategy to elevate Tysons and create a shared message for the diverse range of stakeholders,” according to the proposal.

Tysons Partnership hopes to have the strategy development done by December, so that it executed next year, according to the proposal.

The board tasked County Executive Bryan Hill to examine the potential use of these funds between $500,000-$1 million before it decides if the investment would be worthwhile.

Any funds granted by the board would also be matched by private donors, according to the proposal.

Image via Fairfax County

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There is a new job opening for an economic development manager in the Town of Vienna.

This opening is part of a larger plan to revitalize local businesses. Responsibilities of the manager will include supporting unique and independent businesses, along with working under the town council to execute a new economic strategy.

Vienna Town Council members began discussing the implementation of the new position two years ago, in order to expand economic development and diversity business, Public Information Officer Lynne Coan told Tysons Reporter. She hopes that the new position will expand the opportunity for growth and bring in residents from neighboring communities to shop and dine.

The Town Business Liaison Committee and Vienna Business Association also support the implementation of this position, she said. Coan said the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors takes the two groups’ opinions on such matters into consideration, especially the Vienna Business Association, which is run by a private group.

Though specific tasks will be required of the new manager under the economic development plan, the manager will have room to “build on their strengths,” Coan said.

According to the job listing:

Bachelor’s degree, with major work in economics, business administration, marketing or closely related field; five years’ experience in corporate or municipal administration, economic development or marketing; some experience in commercial real estate, site selection process; substantial experience in interacting with and marketing to senior-level executives.

The pay ranges from $79,475-$127,956, per year, depending on experience. Funding for the new position will come from the general town budget.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced that it had poached Arlington’s top economic development official, Victor Hoskins.

Currently the head of Arlington Economic Development, Hoskins recently wooed Amazon and its HQ2 to Arlington County. Come August, he will become FCEDA’s new president and CEO — one year after its now-retired and longtime leader, Gerry Gordon, announced his plans to leave.

Tysons Reporter talked to Hoskins about how he plans to head up one of the largest economic development agencies in the country.

“I’m done in Arlington.”

Hoskins said he entered the process for the FCEDA role back in May during the agency’s second hiring search for the position.

Back in December, he told ARLnow that he planned to work for Arlington County until the office vacancy rate dropped from its then-18 percent rate to 10 or 12 percent.

With a current rate of 16.7 percent, Hoskins said that Arlington County has “nothing to worry about” with Amazon coming in. Hoskins said that the career move is coming at the right time — “Yes, I’m done in Arlington.”

“If you look at my history, I pretty much do what I need to do and move on,” he said. In the case of both his former economic development role in D.C. and his Arlington County job, Hoskins, who describes himself as a person who likes to finish projects, said that he leaves once he’s accomplished the specific challenges of a job.

New Challenges Ahead 

“What I look for in a career change is a challenge,” he said. “This is a different kind of challenge. Just the size of the market is pretty amazing.”

Hoskins said he is looking forward to encouraging companies in Fairfax County to recruit and train more top workers with a talent-focused strategy.

“We already have a lot of talent residing [in Fairfax County],” he said. “We need to keep the people we have.” A part of that will include offering more opportunities to retrain employees with skills like cybersecurity coding, he added.

He also said he would like to see FCEDA get more closely involved with the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in addition to continuing work with the Planning Commission, Virginia Department of Transportation and other county agencies to set priorities.

Additionally, Hoskins said that the county could use more work on placemaking.

“The size of Fairfax County makes it difficult to create places — concentrated nodes of activity,” he said, which could include creating more urban villages around the Silver Line stations and making “a nexus between residential and commercial nodes.”

Another area Hoskins wants to work on is making Fairfax County more attractive to millennials.

Some ideas he has: creating places where people want to work and eat outside, offering more housing choices, making “interesting environments” and strengthening mass transportation.

Hoskins was quick to note that many of the challenges he mentioned are not unique to the county, which he praised for its global reputation and competition with places like London and Paris.

“Fairfax is amazing right now,” he said, lauding the county’s quality of life, including its public schools and parks. “Fairfax has it all. What we’re trying to do it to move it to the next level.”

Amazon’s Impact on Fairfax County

While Fairfax County lost its bid for Amazon, Hoskins said that the tech giant will impact Northern Virginia, from adding a plethora of new job opportunities to a “back and forth between employees and employers” with Amazon and local companies.

Hoskins also mentioned a recent report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, which estimated that roughly 33 percent of Amazon’s workforce would live in Fairfax County, while 16.4 percent would live in Arlington.

“It’s a higher percentage than [Amazon employees who] will live and work in Arlington,” Hoskins said.

On a larger scale, Hoskins said Amazon will transform Northern Virginia into a more innovative environment that will increase the private sector.

“[Amazon will bring an] innovation focus to the region where companies begin thinking differently about how they work,” he said.

Hoskins starts his new role on Aug. 5. Until then, he said he will help with the leadership transition at his current job before having two to three days off.

“Building an economy is more like solving a very complex puzzle,” he said.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

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Funding for two positions to help alleviate two very different crises in Vienna was salvaged by last-minute savings.

Digging around the proverbial sofa to find extra funds for previously unfunded priorities is a time-honored local budget tradition. In Vienna, that took the form of $400,000 recovered from transferring repaving to a cheaper system and changes in the town’s health insurance structure.

In response, Town Manager Mercury Payton proposed $383,000 worth of items that were not funded in the budget that could be financed by the found-funds in the final budget.

The largest item among the unfunded priorities was $144,600 for an economic development manager — a long-discussed idea in Vienna.

Despite more businesses opening than closing in the town, Vienna is still struggling with rampant closures from small businesses. The manager would help assess problems facing local business and develop strategies to help keep businesses in town. Vienna is currently the only locality in Northern Virginia without a person working specifically in an economic development role.

The list of unfunded priorities also includes $50,000 for an economic development and market study.

The other crisis addressed in the list of priorities is handling the town’s massive wave of tree deaths. Over the last few years, every ash tree in Vienna has been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive parasite that’s devastated North America’s ash tree population.

But the town is also dealing with the still-unsolved mystery of what is killing the town’s Norway maples. The death tally reached 30 earlier this year, and Town Arborist Gary Lawrence said the killings were so similar to the Emerald Ash Borer deaths that at first the deaths were mistaken for that infestation.

The list of unfunded priorities includes $69,364 for an assistant arborist and $20,000 to help handle tree maintenance.

A public hearing on the tax rate is planned for April 29 and adoption of the budget is scheduled for May 13.

File photo

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