Tysons, VA

(Updated 5:40 p.m.) The Town of Vienna is giving $1 million to support Fairfax County’s new grant program to financially help town businesses.

The town announced the news today (Wednesday), saying that it’s giving some of its funds from the CARES Act to the county’s RISE grant program. The town received roughly $2.9 million in CARES Act funding at the end of April, according to the town newsletter.

“While the $1 million being provided by the Town of Vienna is designated specifically for Town businesses only, Vienna businesses also will be eligible for funding through the county grant program beyond the Town’s contribution,” according to the press release.

Natalie Monkou, the town’s economic development manager, said in the press release that the town originally thought about creating its own grant program, but decided that the county had more resources.

“Fairfax County has the infrastructure already in place to execute a grant program for businesses,” Monkou said, adding that the county will give businesses “more immediate access to grant funding.”

At least 30% of the total RISE funding will go to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, she added.

“When we did a business survey a few weeks ago, one of the main things we heard was that businesses need access to capital, and that can be even more true for veteran-, minority-, and women-owned businesses,” she said. “The CARES Act allows us to provide this important assistance to our small businesses.”

The county’s grant program currently has $26 million for small businesses and nonprofits, according to the press release. The grant application will be open from June 8-15.

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Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Fairfax County can apply for grants through a new program approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The Fairfax Relief Initiative to Support Employers (Fairfax RISE) uses $25 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program is intended to provide immediate relief for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and “address gaps that may exist among complementary programs,” according to the county.

Our hope is that these grants will help small businesses and nonprofits be able to emerge from these difficult times by retaining employees and preparing to grow in the future,” Fairfax County Chairman Jeff McKay wrote in a statement.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations can begin applying in early June. Funding will be awarded based on the number of employees, with amounts varying from $10,000 to $20,000.

Funding can be used for compensation, capital, equipment, inventory, rent and other critical operating expenses. No grant funds can be used to pay debts to start or close a business.

Here’s more from a press release:

Fairfax RISE will offer grants to qualified businesses or nonprofits that will not have to be repaid. It also specifically establishes a minimum allocation of 30% of the program’s total dollars — or $7.5 million — towards awards for minority-, veteran-, and women- owned businesses.

Not only have these kinds of businesses historically faced difficulty obtaining financing, but they also make a major contribution to the county’s economy. Minority-owned companies with employees account for 32% percent of businesses in Fairfax County, and collectively, all minority, women and veteran-owned businesses employ 80,000 people in the county with total annual revenues of $14.4 billion.

The grant application process is expected to begin in early June 2020. To be eligible, applicants must be established and have one or more location(s) in Fairfax County, including the principal place of business. Fairfax County includes businesses and nonprofit organizations located in the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, and Clifton. Additionally, awardees must have less than 50 total employees across all locations, have been in operation over 1 year; and, with the exception of nonprofits, have a valid Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses (BPOL).

The county also created a microloan fund for small businesses using county dollars.

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Fairfax County officials have created a fund to support small businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Board of Supervisors approved creating the “Fairfax County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Microloan Fund” during their meeting today (Tuesday). The board expects the loan program to be ready by May 1, according to county documents.

The program allows the Community Business Partnership (CBP) to distribute roughly $1.2 million to eligible small businesses in the county. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees make up about 94 percent of businesses in the county, according to the documents.

Businesses who undergo a pre-submission counseling session will be able to apply for loans up to $20,000 and will be able to use the money for things like rent, equipment and critical cash operating expenses. The loans will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, the documents say.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the county’s program complements federal aid, including financial assistance from the Small Business Administration.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said he was concerned about the administrative costs of operating the county’s program. He also proposed an amendment requiring the CBP to direct small business owners to seek federal aid prior to seeking local assistance.

McKay said Herrity’s amendment, which did not pass, was not necessary because the CBP already encourages individuals to seek federal avenues for help. He also noted that many businesses are falling through the cracks due to the limits of federal assistance, including delays in the rollout of funds.

Other county officials encouraged the county to reach as many affected businesses as possible.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said he hopes the program champions “administrative flexibility” in order to help out businesses with between two and 10 employees.

The funding for the program is coming from $2.5 million in the Economic Opportunity Reserve to support economic relief efforts.

Staff in the Department of Economic Initiatives will monitor the distribution of the funds to figure out how to use the remaining $1.28 million, according to county documents. After 45 days, staff will let the board know if they recommend additional funds for the program.

McKay also directed county staff to explore additional relief options for businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Catherine Douglas Moran and Fatimah Waseem contributed to this story.

Image via Fairfax County 

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City of Falls Church staff want to create a guide to ensure the projects in the Capital Improvements Program all get completed.

Currently, the staff is managing 26 projects — with four in jeopardy, according to a new report by city staff.

Projects falling under the parks, facilities, stormwater, sanitary sewer, technology and public safety categories are either on schedule or have “some challenges.”

The four projects that are not active or on hold due to a “critical issue” fall under the transportation category, which includes more than a dozen projects.

“The city’s Transportation CIP program is the largest CIP program and demands considerable staff time and attention,” the report says. “The city is unique from most neighboring jurisdictions in that it does not have a transportation department, and instead manages the Transportation CIP with a team of staff members from multiple departments.”

More from the report about the transportation projects facing issues:

Park Ave Great Streets

Full scoping of the Park Avenue Great Streets project reveals project is underfunded. [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] application for $8.3M submitted in September; awaiting decision from NVTA Spring 2020. Reduced scope option may be possible.

Downtown Multimodal project [is] on hold; inquiring about schedule changes with VDOT. Need to be coordinated with Park Ave Great Street.

S. Maple Ave Roadbed Reconstruction

Roadbed Reconstruction and improvements at the intersection of S. Maple and Annandale. Fully funded. No project manager assigned. Paving already completed Fall 2018.

Oak Street Bridge

60% design completed in December using existing RSTP funds. Current funding shortfall is $928K. City submitted $928K application for SGR funds available in FY21. Pending the award of SGR in the spring, 100% final design will be complete and ROW will start fall 2020. Construction would be scheduled for early 2021.

“Staff continues to look to the future and how we can improve our project implementation process to avoid these delays, as they can increase costs,” according to the report. “A CIP project implementation manual has been in development to streamline project management and ensure projects are successfully advanced and completed.”

The report says that funding and staffing shortfalls often cause projects to derail. Not having managers for some projects can be a risk for funding, the report notes, adding: “Many staff resources have been directed toward City Hall building commissioning and Mary Riley Styles Library Renovation and Expansion.”

Staff presented the report to the Planning Commission earlier this week.

The new CIP is slated to be unveiled on Feb. 3.

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre is one of seven arts organizations receiving a grant from ARTSFAIRFAX.

ARTSFAIRFAX awarded grants totaling $105,296 to local arts groups in Fairfax County for fiscal year 2020, according to a press release. The grants range in amounts from $1,000 to $30,000.

The grant for 1st Stage will allow the theater to work with the Maryland-based Olney Theatre on a co-production of “The Royale” —  a story about the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion in the U.S. The show played at Olney from Sept. 25 to Oct. 27 and comes to Tysons in January.

“What we are witnessing is how these grants are helping propel the artistic growth of these grantees as their work reaches new audiences within and beyond the county,” Linda Sullivan, the president and CEO of ARTSFAIRFAX, said in a press release.

“Project awardees presented innovative and creative means to engage the community and bring people together to experience arts in fresh and unusual ways,” according to the press release.

Other recipients include the Greater Reston Arts Center, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

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A Tysons tech company wants to boost fundraising, sales and marketing efficiency for both non-profits and businesses by using artificial intelligence.

BoodleAI (1751 Pinnacle Drive), which eventually branched out to also create guidonAI, began as a small startup roughly three years ago and managed to expand its client base to include around 30 non-profit groups and businesses once product development was complete.

BoodleAI works with non-profits to expand their donor bases, while guidonAI exclusively works with businesses to boost marketing strategies and sales, France Hoang, the chief strategy officer and co-founder, told Tysons Reporter.

Both companies offer predictive analytics to help organizations by taking the clients’ pre-existing data and cross-referencing it with more than 500 other data points on each person, using only names and email. All of the data sets are then analyzed by AI to come up with a predictive model that will be tested for power and reliability, according to the company’s website.

Hoang began the company because he felt that non-profits are an “underserved market.”

“I know the pain non-profits go through trying to raise funds for their mission,” Hoang said.

The company names were inspired by Hoang’s time at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated before serving time as Special Forces in Afghanistan, moved onto law school at Georgetown University and eventually become an entrepreneur.

Everything had its place at the academy, he said, adding that all of the cadets were expected to keep things extremely organized.

“The one exception to that is that you are allowed one exception of cookies, candy and things sent to you by your friends and family back home,” he said, adding that things come in a box and the contents are referred to as “boodle.”

GuidonAI was inspired by the flag that represents a unit. “If you want to know where to go, you look towards the guideon,” Hoang said.

The company offers decreased pricing options for non-profits but the cost will ultimately depend on variables including the size of the organization, the amount of help they need and the size of the problem, Hoang said.

“We would like to be the prime, dominant builder of people-focused, predictive applications,” Hoang said after being asked where he wants to see the company in five years.

Unlike competitors, boodleAI focuses on the fit of a person’s needs rather than on their online behavior, Hoang said, adding that their algorithms can pick out the target market four out of five times.

Hoang said that he loves connecting the world with issues they care about through outreach and the company’s work with non-profits.

“I’m passionate about solving problems in new ways. It’s in my blood.”

Photo via BoodleAI

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The Town of Vienna is moving forward with its plan to add public parking with Patrick Henry Library’s upcoming renovation.

The town is partnering with Fairfax County so that the town can have public parking spots when the county rebuilds the library (101 E. Maple Avenue).

The town is looking to incorporate public parking into a three-story parking garage, according to the Capital Improvement Plan.

Director of Finance Marion Serfass told the Town Council that the town would have 188 spaces, while the library would have 125 — a total of 313 parking spaces.

The parking garage is expected to cost $6.3 million, and the town is seeking a grant from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

The Vienna Town Council approved the 2020-2036 Capital Improvement Plan at their meeting on Monday (Oct. 21).

Image via Town of Vienna

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People in McLean and Tysons have the chance to help others through a series of upcoming donation drives.

With the holiday season approaching, Toys for Tots has set up a drop-off area for toy donations in Tysons, while Soles4Souls will collect gently used shoes in McLean.

Toys for Tots is organized through the United States Marine Corps to help struggling families afford Christmas gifts for their children. Around 97% of proceeds go to families in need, according to the website. The remaining 3% covers administrative costs.

Anyone wishing to donate toys can bring them to Meineke Car Care Center (1524 Spring Hill Road). The last day for donations to Toys for Tots is Dec. 12.

Soles4Souls is a non-profit based in Nashville that fights poverty, according to its website.

Shoes will be accepted at the Joy Deevy Relator Office (6849 Old Dominion Drive, Suite 400) until Dec. 1.

Photo via Toys4Tots/Facebook

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(Updated 10/26/19) MarginEdge, a Merrifield-based restaurant software startup, has raised millions of dollars in a recent funding round.

The company recently raised $5 million in Series A funding — bringing their total funding to $10.4 million, according to a press release.

“Osage Venture Partners led the round, with participation from In Good Company… and other restaurant owner investors,” the press release said.

Headquartered at 8315 Lee Hwy, MarginEdge processes invoices for restaurants. Restaurant employees send pictures of receipts and invoices to the company, which then processes them and connects the restaurant to point of sales partners.

“We’re excited to see this approach resonating, with a dozen of our clients investing in the company and a 12-month customer retention rate of 94%,” the company’s CEO Bo Davis said.

The company said in the press release that it plans to use the money to expand geographically and add new partnerships.

MarginEdge also recently signed its 1,000th restaurant, according to the press release.

Some of the restaurants the company works with include District Taco, Chef Geoff’s, South Block and Hank’s Oyster Bar.

“MarginEdge allowed our team to go from being an accounting department to being more of a finance department,” Javier Retamar, the chief financial officer of Maple Street Biscuits, said. “Now, it’s not just about inputting things after the fact; we have the time and tools to analyze.”

Photo via MarginEdge/Facebook

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The Town of Vienna has now received the funding it needs for a $2 million stream restoration project.

The Board of Supervisors approved giving a little more than $1 million for the project to the town at its meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

“The project will restore approximately 1,900 linear feet of [the] stream on Bear Branch Tributary, providing nutrient reduction and improved water quality in the Accotink Creek watershed,” according to county documents.

Earlier this year, the Town of Vienna received a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality that will cover roughly half of the design and construction costs.

About half of the Bear Branch Tributary, which is apart of the Accotink Creek watershed, is located in the Town of Vienna.

The Accotink Creek Watershed Management Plan rates the Bear Branch Tributary’s condition as “very poor” and calls for a series of restoration projects, starting with retrofitting the stream channel on the upstream side of I-66 at Southside Park.

“The channel is over-widened with moderate to severe erosion along the stream banks,” according to the plan. “Restoration would include reducing the channel dimensions, raising the bed elevation and installing grade controls.”

After work is done on that portion, the plan calls for work on the stream from Hunter Road to Route 50 to stabilize the stormwater outfall structures and regrading eroded stream banks.

“Partnering with the town on this project will save the county the time and administrative costs that would be incurred if the county were to implement the project under its stormwater program,” according to county documents.

Image via Google Maps

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