Newsletter

Morning Notes

County to Seek Input on Safe Streets Program — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will hold two virtual public meetings in November to present draft recommendations for a Fairfax County Safe Streets for All Program. Developed by county’s ActiveFairfax team, the program is “a comprehensive initiative to address systemic transportation safety issues for people walking, biking and using other forms of active transportation.” [FCDOT]

Virginia Among Top States in COVID-19 Vaccinations — “Virginia now ranks 10th among all states for the percentage of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and for the total number of shots administered. More than 82 percent of individuals 18 years and older have received at least one dose and 74 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.” [Office of the Governor]

Local Magnet School Admissions Now Open — “Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology…has opened its application process for admissions for the Class of 2026. This will be the second year that applications for the school’s 550 freshmen seats will be reviewed using the new admissions process which eliminated the standardized admissions test and the $100 application fee, while continuing to maintain the school’s high academic standards.” [FCPS]

Madison Student Launches Art Business — “A business showcasing the art of Madison High School students is looking to build connections with Vienna area businesses by offering professional artwork services. Spectra Artwork is the brainchild of Madison High School senior Colin Crowley, combining his skills in business and marketing with the talents of his artist friends.” [Patch]

McLean Startup Raises Funds for Healthcare Jobs App — “ShiftMed, one of the largest workforce management platforms in health care with over 60,000 credentialed health care professionals, has raised $45 million led by health care investors, Panoramic Ventures and Heathworx…In 2021, the company has already hired more than 10,000 nurses, which provided over 1 million hours of care, and received more than 100,000 app downloads.” [ShiftMed]

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Morning Notes

Wiehle Metro Station to Close This Weekend — “Head Up! This weekend, WMATA is closing the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station for integration of Phase 2 of the Silver Line with the existing Silver Line. During the planned closure, free Metrobus shuttles will go between Wiehle-Reston East & Spring Hill Metrorail Stations” [Fairfax Connector/Twitter]

FCPS Enrollment Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels — “Fairfax County Public Schools officials reported a total of 178,595 students in classes on Sept. 30…That figure is down from 179,741 recorded in June when the 2020-21 school year ended, and is well down from the 189,010 students counted in class at the start of the 2019-20 school year.” [Sun Gazette]

A Going-Out Guide to Tysons — “This kind of place-making from scratch has become common in the Washington area…but it’s interesting to see it happening in Tysons, once defined as an ‘Edge City’ because, while it was technically located in Washington’s suburbs, large crowds commuted into Tysons in the morning, and left again at night. Now, there might just be more reasons to stay.” [The Washington Post]

How to Celebrate Another COVID Halloween — “While trick-or-treaters under 12 aren’t eligible for vaccine yet, this fun tradition can be done safely if families keep activities outdoors, wear a cloth or surgical mask (don’t rely on a costume mask to protect you), avoid crowded doorsteps, and wash hands before eating candy.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Local Health Startup Has Big Plans — “Kinometrix Inc., a Fairfax County startup whose software help hospitals prevent patient falls, is making some big changes and kicking off a funding round to expand nationally. The company, originally part of Inova Health System’s accelerator until that program shut down in late 2019, is shooting to raise at least $3 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Drug Take Back Day Is Tomorrow — The Fairfax County Police Department will collected unused and expired prescription drugs tomorrow (Saturday) for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which comes twice a year. Collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the county’s police district stations, including in McLean, and Reston Hospital Center. [Patch]

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Morning Notes

Local Swim Coach Arrested on Child Porn Charges — Fairfax County police have arrested a 21-year-old aquatics instructor for possession of child pornography after finding thousands of explicit images and videos in an online Dropbox account. The suspect has been a Fairfax County Park Authority employee since 2015, but so far, none of the victims appear to be county residents or have connection to his job as a swim instructor. [WTOP]

Code Violation Pushes Farmers Market Out of Vienna — The NOVA Central Farm Market has moved to Marshall High School outside of the Town of Vienna’s limits, because the town code only allows one farmers market. Operated by Central Farm Markets, the market had operated at Marshall High until the closure of schools due to COVID-19 last year prompted a relocation to Holy Comforter Church on Beulah Road. [Patch]

New Tech Company Launches in Tysons — The new technology startup LevelFields announced the public launch of its artificial intelligence platform that helps investors predict stock prices on Monday (Oct. 4). Based in Tysons, the company was developed in response to the volatility introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic and has received funding from the Center for Innovative Technology, among other sources. [LevelFields]

Meet New Fairfax Parks Director — “Jai Cole, who on Sept. 14 became the new executive director of Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), wants to make the park system more accessible and equitable. Cole spent the past 16 years with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery Parks. During a recent phone interview, the Silver Spring resident told the Sun Gazette why she returned to her home county.” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Lieutenant Governor Candidates Speak at Tysons Luncheon — “Candidates for lieutenant governor of Virginia told their personal stories and articulated their values at a Sept. 1 luncheon in Tysons, but provided few specifics on what they would seek to accomplish if elected.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

MCC to Hold Public Meeting on Budget Tonight — “The McLean Community Center (MCC) Governing Board will hold two, in-person budget meetings this month in order to gather input and suggestions from the residents of Dranesville Small District 1-A on the Center’s fiscal year 2023 budget. The first meeting, the Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons Startup Raises Millions in Funding — The Tysons-based startup theCut, a mobile platform that enables users to book and pay for barbershop appointments, announced last week that it has raised $4.5 million in seed money, bringing its total funding to $5.35 million to date. Company leaders say they will use the funds to build out a team that currently consists of 20 employees, including interns. [DC Inno]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Police Officer Shoots Woman — A woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition yesterday (Monday) after a Fairfax County police officer fired their weapon and shot her during a confrontation at a group home in Springfield. Police say they responded to the 8000 block of Gosport Lane by a disturbance call about a woman reportedly assaulting people. [The Washington Post]

Bijan Ghaisar’s Family Protests Park Police Task Force Appointment — “The parents of Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old resident of McLean who was shot and killed by U.S. Park Police in November 2017, are protesting Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s decision to appoint former U.S. Park Police Chief Robert MacLean to head a new task force reviewing law enforcement policies…in the wake of the police’s violent crackdown in Lafayette Park in 2020 during the presidency of Donald Trump.” [Patch]

Falls Church City Seeks School Supplies — “The City of Falls Church Housing and Human Services (HHS) team will help local families with free school supplies. Donations for all ages — and especially middle and high school students — can be delivered to City Hall (300 Park Ave.) through Friday, August 13.” [City of Falls Church]

Falls Church Startup Proposes Automating Tax Appeals — A startup co-founded by Falls Church City Councilmember Ross Litkenhous is looking to raise $2 million to fund a software platform that they say will simplify the property tax appeals process. Launched in February, Calvary Real Estate Advisors would help users fill out the assessment appeal, find ways to save money, and send the form to the right place. [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Lantana flowers by Spring Hill Road post office in McLean (photo by Joanne Liebig)

Construction Closes I-66 West Overnight — Starting last night (Wednesday), all lanes of I-66 West approaching I-495 in the Dunn Loring area will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night through Saturday (June 19). The closures are necessary for overhead bridge work on the interchange as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]

Rally in Support of Public Schools Tonight — The Fairfax County Democratic Committee is organizing a rally in support of Fairfax County Public Schools ahead of the school board’s meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School. The school board has faced criticism from some for making political statements and closing schools last year due to COVID-19, including a recall campaign led by a parents’ group that identifies as bipartisan but has received substantial funding from Republican donors. [Fairfax Democrats/Twitter]

Rick Springfield Fans Once Shut Down Tysons Corner — “June 17 is the 40th anniversary of the day Rick Springfield shut down Tysons Corner. Larry Houck was there. ‘Talk about having a front-row seat,’ said Houck, who worked at the Variety Records in Tysons Corner Center, where Springfield was scheduled to meet fans.” [The Washington Post]

McLean Startup Raises $60 Million — The McLean-based kidney care startup Somatus Inc. has secured $60.12 million in new funding, bringing the company’s total funding to $165 million over its five years of existence. The funds come from an equity offering that had its first sale on June 1 and will be used to support the company’s continued expansion as it now serves more than 150,000 patients in the U.S. [Washington Business Journal]

Maryland Beltway Project in Jeopardy — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board voted yesterday to remove Maryland’s Capital Beltway toll lanes plan from a list of long-term transportation projects, jeopardizing its ability to secure federally required environmental approval. The project will also replace and expand the American Legion Bridge and is considered a necessary supplement to Virginia’s 495 NEXT project in McLean. [The Washington Post]

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Residents of The Boro’s Rise and Bolden Apartments will soon be treated to the luxuries of a hotel to go with the units’ $5,500-per-month price tag.

Pop-up hotel operator WhyHotel announced this morning (Tuesday) that it has formed a partnership with The Meridian Group, the real estate company that owns and manages The Boro, to introduce a “hospitality-infused apartment living concept” to the Tysons development.

WhyHotel has run a temporary pop-up hotel out of Rise since December 2019, allowing guests to occupy unleased units in the 33-story building, but this partnership will give the company a permanent presence in The Boro.

“The Meridian Group and The Boro are excited to continue our partnership with WhyHotel in their new phase,” The Meridian Group Partner and CIO Gary Block said. “We believe this new residential offering will enhance our residential community at The Boro and will continue to provide the highest placemaking environment in Tysons.”

The Rise and Bolden high-rise buildings opened in September 2019, bringing more than 500 residential units to Meridian’s 3.5 million square-foot mixed-use complex on Greensboro Drive.

According to WhyHotel’s press release, its “Hospitality Living” concept will essentially bring hotel-style services — such as on-demand cleaning and linen and laundry services — to Rise and Bolden residents. Other new amenities will include furnished units for both residents and guests and a customized design through furniture rental option.

The new concept will officially launch at the Rise and Bolden Apartments in June.

WhyHotel says it is “pursuing additional opportunities to expand” after bringing a new pop-up hotel to Miami on May 1. The company will also open a pop-up hotel in D.C. — its fifth in the region — on June 1.

“This partnership is an important step in the future of the intersection of residential living and hospitality as it is the first property to house the WhyHotel Hospitality Living experience,” WhyHotel CEO Jason Fudin said. “We’re proud to work with The Meridian Group to bring this innovative asset class to life for residents.”

Photo courtesy WhyHotel

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The Tysons telecommunications startup Omnispace is working with Lockheed Martin to develop a 5G network that will utilize both satellites and existing land-based cell towers to provide wireless service around the world.

The two companies announced on Tuesday (March 23) that they have entered into a “strategic interest agreement” to cooperate on turning Omnispace’s vision of a hybrid global communications network into a reality.

“The proposed global 5G standards-based non-terrestrial network (NTN) would offer commercial, enterprise and government devices ubiquitous communications worldwide,” Omnispace said in the press release. “This type of network has the potential to redefine mobile communications, benefiting users requiring true mobility, regardless of environment or location.”

Brian Pemberton, Omnispace’s vice president of sales and marketing, says Lockheed Martin was one of several companies that the startup approached while looking for possible satellite suppliers, but as the discussions continued, they saw potential for a more ambitious partnership.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., with an office in Dunn Loring, Lockheed Martin is an aerospace and technology company that primarily works as a government contractor for the U.S. military and various federal agencies. In contrast, Omnispace has a more commercial bent, focusing on individual consumers and businesses.

The new agreement commits the companies to combining their different perspectives and resources to support a shared goal.

“We had a very common vision…around the value and utility that a global 5G network can provide,” Pemberton said. “So, our conversations evolved rather quickly from one of vendor-supplier to much more of a collaborative approach.”

The actual launch of a working 5G network in space remains mostly theoretical right now.

Pemberton says Omnispace is aiming for a 2023 timeframe for when it hopes to initially deploy a 5G platform. That would align with when he expects prototype mobile devices to become available as international standards for how 5G devices and networks will interact with each other are established.

However, the need for a more efficient and expansive wireless communications system has become increasingly apparent over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many activities — from school and office work to grocery shopping and social gatherings — into the digital realm.

According to Pemberton, the global wireless network envisioned by Omnispace could help eliminate dead zones and provide more resiliency, since satellites would not be affected by terrain or natural disasters like service providers on land.

As an example of how the technology could be applied, he cites the challenges presented by worldwide COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Reliable, continuous wireless coverage could enhance government and medical providers’ ability to track shipments and monitor environmental conditions to ensure the vaccines are stored properly, he argues.

“That’s just one microcosm that obviously resonates with a lot of people today, but you can extrapolate that to food transportation and other types of goods and just think about the global supply chain in general for all kinds of industries,” Pemberton said.

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Tysons-based MicroTech, which earlier this summer was working to address PPE shortages, has won a $38 million contract with the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army (DUSA) to review the department’s organizational structure and operations.

MicroTech is a veteran-owned business that provides support for infrastructure, telecommunications, cyber-security to both private and public sector clients.

“MicroTech is elated to have received this DUSA contract from the U.S. Army,” said Tony Jimenez, President and CEO of MicroTech, in a press release. “As a Retired Army Officer who has served on the Army Staff, I am always excited for an opportunity like this to help the U.S. Army implement transformational changes to its organizational structure, governance, and business operations.”

The DUSA directs the Army Science Board and Analytics Group, oversees the Civilian Leadership Service Management Office (CLSMO), and serves as the Deputy Chief Management Officer to the Under Secretary of the Army, MicroTech said.

Photo via MicroTech/Facebook

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Tyson’s based startup HomeValet is gearing up to find a solution to the “last yard” of contactless delivery.

After the COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for contactless delivery, HomeValet’s Co-Founder and COO Jack Simms said the company’s temperature-controlled “smart-box” is the future of delivery.

HomeValet’s Smart box which is slated to go to market “later this fall” Simms said. The product is a box where anything from groceries to gadgets purchased online can be delivered. People can make purchases and manage delivers with their app, having a contactless experience with their delivery

“The future of grocery was already getting interesting when we started HomeValet,” Simms said in a statement. “This crisis, however, has dramatically accelerated the need and demand for immediate ‘last-yard’ solutions. So, while our work has not necessarily changed, we believe it’s become more important.”

While Simms said his company was working on the box before the pandemic, the demand for such an item is there. Because of social distancing concerns, many food delivery services have offered “contactless delivery” where costumers pay in advance and the delivery driver drops the food off at the front door, rather than directly handing it to the customer.

Simms said the pandemic has created a sense of urgency within his company. While his co-founder John Simms, filed the original patent years ago, the pandemic has rapidly changed consumer habits and has sped-up their timeline, pushing them to go to market sooner.

“What has been interesting about the pandemic for us however is that we have seen consumer needs transform overnight at an accelerated pace,” Simms said. “The consumer habits we predicted when ideating HomeValet and expected to grow over time, are now firmly embedded in consumers’ daily lives from contactless delivery to grocery delivery and disinfection.

On Sept. 15 HomeValet announced the acquisition of Envolve Engineering LLC, an engineering firm based in Indiana. In a press release, HomeValet said the engineering company’s knowledge of the supply chain will allow the Tysons-based startup to better scale-up production.

Image via HomeValet

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