A new apprenticeship program in Tysons will allow a wide range of job seekers in the technology industry to get a foothold in the workforce.
The initiative welcomed 10 apprentices at a signing event last Friday (Feb. 21) at the Alarm.com headquarters, where the apprentices will be working for a year, according to a press release.
The 10 chosen participants were selected from over 600 applicants, according to Megan Johns, the apprenticeship program manager. “It was a pretty rigorous process,” she said.
Applicants went through an aptitude test, which consisted of computer skills, a phone call and an in-person panel interview, Johns said.
Apprentices range in age and background according to Johns, who added that the participants are roughly 20-40 years old.
The Tysons-based company helps clients with home and business security, according to its website. Founded in 2000, the website said Alarm.com lets people secure their homes remotely using technology that coordinates with personal devices.
As a state-funded initiative created in partnership with the Northern Virginia Community College and GO Virginia‘s economic development initiative, the program will include three members from the military community, the press release said.
One program participant spent more than 20 years serving in the army and National Guard, while another is a marine and the third is a military spouse, Johns said.
“There are more than 100,000 job openings right now in Northern Virginia, half of them in technical fields, so the need for connecting companies with talent is obvious,” Fairfax County Economic Development Authority CEO Victor Hoskins said.
At the signing event, speakers discussed talent acquisition efforts, the growing demand for on-the-job learning experiences and technical education, according to the press release.
After their initial year at the company, program participants will be able to apply for long-term positions within the company, according to Johns, who said Alarm.com is “rapidly growing” and looking for talent.
Photo courtesy Alarm.com
Three months into her job as Vienna’s new economic development manager, Natalie Monkou has an abundance of ideas for how to boost business in the town.
Monkou, an Annadale resident, previously worked in Arlington County as a liaison between the county and three business improvement districts (BIDs): Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City. Before that, she worked as the special assistant to Prince George’s County’s deputy chief of economic development.
Currently, Monkou has been on a “listening tour” around the town and holding public forums to receive input.
So far, the tour has been “really good,” Monkou told Tysons Reporter at Caffe Amouri earlier this week. “I’m trying to meet everybody.”
“Everybody” includes local businesses, commercial real estate brokers, local organizations that work with businesses and the Vienna Business Association.
While Monkou said she hasn’t heard anything surprising yet — mostly issues about high rents, property owners, vacancies and traffic — she said the people she has met with have different opinions on what economic development is and how it should work.
In an hour-long conversation with Tysons Reporter, Monkou shared a variety of ideas she’d like to look into for boosting Vienna businesses, like offering a walking tour with the mayor, improving the website for tourists and looking into how to turn the industrial area — what she calls a “sleeper hit” — into more of a destination.
But she said her main goal for this year is to get more data before she starts to make big changes. “I’ve heard lots of stories,” she said. Now she wants the data.
Currently, she said she’s working on a proposal for a market study that will look into Vienna’s competitiveness in the D.C. market, along with collecting demographic information and a SWOT analysis.
Using the study’s data, she wants to create an economic development strategy. Both the study and strategy could take anywhere from six months to a year, she said.
Her other top priorities for this year include a focus on the town’s budget and also figuring out how to market local businesses better outside of the town.
“I think there are opportunities to do more marketing and promotion of business here,” she said, adding that Vienna already supports local businesses well. “Why would I come here? Why would I shop here when I don’t live here?”
How to make Vienna a destination for nonresidents is on Monkou’s mind, as are controversial topics like the moratorium on new development guidelines for Maple Avenue — known as the “MAC” — and Tysons’ potential impact on Vienna.
“I want to be a part of MAC convos,” she said, adding that businesses have brought it up in discussions with her.
Monkou is clear that whatever happens with the MAC, which has been put on hold until June so the town can redo its guidelines, won’t slow her down and that there are plenty of areas around Vienna — like near Caboose Tavern — that she can focus on.
As for Tysons, Monkou said business owners can look to the growing community for potential customers.
A part of that involves making it easier for people to get to Vienna, which will require a look at traffic congestion and parking problems, she said. (For cycling enthusiasts, Monkou said she’s aware of how “special” the W&OD Trail is to the town and she said she wants to promote it more.)
As she dives more into these areas, Monkou expects lots of conversations with several town departments, like parks and recreation staff, as she works to merge traditional economic development with a “BID-like overlay” that includes online ads and events.
At the end of the day, Monkou said it’s all about “unique ways to promote the town’s assets.”
The West Falls Church Economic Development Project in the Little City has updated plans, including a new design for the hotel.
The Falls Church City Council held a joint work session with the Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority on Monday (Dec. 9) to review progress and discuss project aesthetics.
A presentation by James Snyder, the city’s director of community planning and economic development services, explored how the new development will look in the community and revealed a variety of building styles and colors to break up block redundancy.
People can expect numerous trees to be included in the final project, rooftop greenery, a grocery store, hotel, a new high school, senior living homes, family housing, shops and pedestrian-friendly walkways in the development, according to the presentation.
It has not been announced which hotel or grocery store will move into the space, but a commissioner said the announcement should be made either in the spring or summer of 2020.
Images and blueprints from the presentation primarily featured grey and white brick buildings with red, light wood and metal accents. Architects and designers said they looked toward New York and D.C. for industrial design ideas.
“The biggest change is the hotel. We heard everybody’s feedback that time that they were not thrilled with the hotel design, so we have started in a new direction,” another representative said.
The plans are expected to remain somewhat consistent throughout the next ideation phases, except for the senior living center, according to Snyder, who added that the Planning Commission is still awaiting development plans from the senior living facility.
“I like the geometric forms and modern architecture,” Planning Commission Chair Russell Wodiska said. “That’s a new look for Falls Church.”
Going forward in January, the next steps will be to work on creating a sense of community in the development, another commissioner said.
This Thursday (Dec. 12), community members are welcome to attend an event at the Town Hall (300 Park Avenue) from 7-9:30 p.m. where they will be able to learn more about the project and share their comments.
Image via City of Falls Church
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) announced today (Monday) that it has poached another one of Arlington’s economic development officials.
Now, FCEDA is hiring Alex Iams as executive vice president, according to a press release.
Iams served as AED’s interim director after Hoskins left for the Fairfax County position.
“Iams has spent 13 years at AED, including five years as [an] assistant director before being named interim director,” the press release said. “The position is a new one at the FCEDA.”
AED’s bio for Iams says:
Alex Iams has spent the last 16 years working in economic development experience, including the past 12 with Arlington County. He has been the Assistant Director at Arlington Economic Development (AED) since 2014, focusing on efforts to lower the office vacancy rate and diversify the local economy. Before joining the director’s office, Iams worked on the land use and infrastructure finance plans for the redevelopment of Crystal City and the Columbia Pike area.
In addition, he has served in various leadership roles in Arlington County government, including a four-year term on the Arlington County Employee Retirement System Board of Trustees and as Acting Assistant Director of the Department of Environmental Services.
Iams has a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington.
Iams is set to begin his new job on Jan. 21.
“The EDA’s talent initiative is unprecedented in this region, and I am excited to have the chance to make a difference in such a large community and one that is emphasizing transit-oriented development,” Iams said in the press release.
Photo via Arlington Economic Development
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved funding to help the Town of Vienna find economic development solutions.
The Town of Vienna approached the county earlier this year about splitting the cost of an economic development strategy and market study totaling $100,000.
The town set aside its $50,000 half when it approved its fiscal year 2020 budget.
Recently, the town has taken steps recently to work towards boosting its economic development and address vacancies plaguing Maple Avenue.
The town had a 15% vacancy rate with 138 vacant spaces — 68 of which are on Maple Avenue, Scott Sizer from the Department of Economic Initiatives told the Board of Supervisors during a Budget Committee in September.
The new strategy and study — which could take up to a year to complete — are meant to revitalize Maple Avenue, find more efficient use of resources to address the vacancies, discover how to aid business recruitment and create place-making strategies, Sizer said.
“The proposed project is an opportunity to support [the] revitalization of the Town’s Maple Avenue corridor and improve property tax revenues for the county and town,” according to county documents, noting that the new economic development manager will oversee the studies and implement the recommendations.
The board approved the $50,000 yesterday (Tuesday). The funds are coming from the Economic Opportunity Reserve.
Almost every Wednesday morning, dozens of entrepreneurs and tech gurus gather to network and share their ideas at an office in Tysons.
1 Million Cups Fairfax is part of a 160-chapter initiative that invites upcoming entrepreneurs from around the country to pitch their venture and receive feedback from other local stakeholders and innovators.
On Nov. 20, Tysons Reporter attended the weekly event and listened to Malaika Simmons of Momentology Media pitch her brand.
Following Simmon’s pitch, which focused on her plans to help women and kids though life coaching and development of a personal brand, attendees offered to connect her with other people in the field, gave advice and asked questions about her mission.
One person said that her model might be good for couples working through difficult times, while another suggested she should consider partnerships with corporate companies.
“My number one goal is to get corporate sponsors,” Simmons said, adding that she has already worked with the federal government and Fortune 500 companies in the past.
Simmons said that corporate sponsors are the best way to scale her business, but her true passion is working with women and children.
Event organizers told Tysons Reporter that feedback like this is typical and people can feel free to be honest with one another.
1 Million Cups began under the Kauffman Foundation, which aims to help businesses owners from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their potential, according to the website.
1 Million Cups Fairfax, which is Tysons’s local chapter, began about a year and a half ago on Valentine’s Day 2018, John Yu, a spokesperson for Office Evolution, said. Yu said that the program has become increasing in popularity, with presentation spots filling up quickly.
To ensure that the presentations will be productive for everyone, organizers ensure that each entrepreneur has a sense of direction and a business model.
“We very rarely turn anyone away,” Yu said. “We just postpone.”
Anyone is welcome to listen and join in the group discussion.
Several attendees said there is typically a dynamic turnout for these events. Tysons Reporter met a variety of people, including several “serial entrepreneurs,” representatives from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and one man who simply wanted to know more about local business.
The weekly event is held at Office Evolution (609 Westwood Center Drive) from 8:30-10 a.m. and the next session will take place after Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
“We try to give a voice to startups around the area,” Yu said.
(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:
- American Office (Chantilly): 10 jobs
- BITS (Herndon): 10 jobs
- Blue Ridge Networks, (Chantilly): 2 jobs
- Bode Cellmark Forensics, Inc. (Lorton): 16
- Chenega MIOS (Chantilly): 16 jobs
- CT Solutions, Inc. (Tysons): 3 jobs
- Global Guardia (Tysons): 15 jobs
- Korea Innovation Center Washington (Korea) (Tysons): 4 jobs
- Learning Tree International, Inc. (Herndon): 25 jobs
- Mathtech, Inc. (Merrifield): 6 jobs
- Signet EV (Korea) (Vienna): 5 jobs
- Sysnet Technologies, Inc. (Fairfax): 10 jobs
Companies in the Tysons area also topped the list for the most added jobs when FCEDA worked with 35 businesses in the second quarter.
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.”
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.
(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.
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.”
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.