the Power of Ideas channel

In Fairfax County, meaningful information and research fuel the Power of Ideas. That’s why we created the Power of Ideas Channel: to bring you the latest business and economic development news and information. Here, you can access articles curated and written by Fairfax County EDA, read the latest editions of our E-Bird news digest, review business news from NPR and learn about best practices from Harvard Business Review. Click below and experience the benefit of having the right information right at your fingertips.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 11:40am

Music, dance, theater or paint, the arts add to quality of life and Fairfax County's bottom line

There are places in Fairfax County where the arts truly take center stage.

Wolf Trap, the only national park for the performing arts, is certainly one. Diana Ross, Lionel Richie and the Beach Boys have been in town this summer. Michael Bolton, Sting and Steve Martin are set to appear before the season ends.

Other county venues might not rely on marquee names, but do promote a multitude of art forms, culture and tourism within the county.

A new arts and cultural district was recently created in the Occoquan area, linking the 55-acre Workhouse Arts Center with Occoquan Regional Park and the Town of Occoquan Historical District, making it the first interjurisdictional arts district in the state.

"This is a shining example of localities working together to promote economic development and artistic and cultural experiences for residents and visitors alike throughout our region," Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said.

The NOVA Arts and Cultural District is branding itself as a regional destination for tourism, commerce and cultural leisure activities. The district offers art, history, music, shopping and recreational activities.

Founded in 2008, the Workhouse Arts Center provides space 65 studio artists, more than 100 exhibitions and more than 300 classes each year. Including galleries, theater, film, music and dance, the center annually hosts more than 300 concerts, evens and performances. The Workhouse Brewfest on August 12 drew about 3,000 visitors.

The arts are a big business according to Americans for the Arts, which this year published its study "The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5," billed as the "most comprehensive" study of the arts ever in the U.S.

"This study demonstrates the impressive economic impact of the arts in Fairfax County," said Linda S. Sullivan, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County. "Not only do the arts enhance our community's quality of life, they generate millions in revenue for local businesses and governments."

How many millions? The study reports more than $271 million in annual economic activity in Fairfax County alone. That includes about $173 million spent by nonprofit arts and culture organizations in 2015 for expenditures such as salaries, supplies, services and acquired assets, and $98 million in event-related spending by audiences.

Fairfax County is home to more than 200 nonprofit arts organizations. According to the study, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations account for the equivalent of 6,220 full-time jobs in the county. Arts events generate more than $9.27 million dollars in local government revenue, and in excess of $10 million more in state revenue. 

Beyond admission fees, non-county residents spent nearly $44 million, indicating tourist dollars from lodging, transportation, meals and shopping flowing into the local economy. The study determined that the average attendee spent more than $15 each on food alone, before, during and after each event.

Space prevents us from listing all the art venues the county has to offer. But here are a few you may wish to put on your must-see/must-hear list:

Vienna Arts Society: With a gallery in the Village Green Shopping Center, this volunteer organization has been painting since 1969 and caters to novices and professionals, young and old.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:30am

Now hear this:  SMWi Fairfax continues to add prominent speakers, including Paul Brandus, White House Correspondent for West Wing Reports, and Hadas Gold of CNN. Both will  participate in the "Politics in 140 Characters or Less" panel discussion. InsideNoVa has more about SMWi Fairfax, a forum for evaluating the latest in and future of social media. It all happens Sept. 14 at Capital One Headquarters in Tysons Corner. Reserve your place by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:29am

From lot to garage: Tysons Corner could become home to a mixed-use development combining residences with auto sales. CBRE Group, marketing on behalf of FCA Realty LLC, is seeking partners to help convert the Fiat/Alfa Romeo dealership on Leesburg Pike into such a mixed-use space. According to Daniel J. Sernovitz of the Washington Business Journal, the site, assessed at nearly $12.5 million, might well accommodate a 150,000-square-foot dealership with a new residential building behind it. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:28am

Putting life on hold: Millennials tend to be unsatisfied with their financial situation and, as a result, are delaying life events and major financial commitments such as buying homes and saving for retirement. So says a report by Navy Federal Credit Union of Vienna, based on a survey of 1,600 by Forrester Data Consulting. See the full report, "Millennials and Their Money," tucked into a story by Will Robinson of the Jacksonville Business Journal.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:27am

Still looking ahead: As a young and eager investor, Bob Kettler was advised to buy all the land he could in Fairfax County and not look back. That's what he did. Karen Goff of the Washington Business Journal takes a look at Kettler's success and his ongoing efforts in transforming the Tysons Corner landscape.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:25am

Lights-out coverage: In case you missed it, there was a solar eclipse yesterday. Tysons Corner-based media giant TEGNA noticed and collaborated with the Weather Channel to provide nationwide digital coverage. eyeballed the news effort.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:24am

Better mousetrap via satellite: Tysons Corner-based Vricon, a joint venture between DigitalGlobe and Saab, will be one of the first companies to offer GEOINT solutions to General Service Administration clients. Through imagery, Geospatial intelligence assesses human activity on earth in concert with geographical features. NASDAQ's Globe Newswire reports that the new offering will unite technologies including satellite imagery, communication distribution and analytics, for faster, easier access to GEOINT services.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:22am

Into the Vortex: Cloud communications provider nexVortex, based in Herndon, made its third acquisition in as many years, acquiring the hosted voice business of Everett, Wash.-based Northwest Vox. The release, picked up by, indicates that nexVortex isn't ruling out additional acquisitions to expand its reach.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:21am

Food for thought: Capital One Growth Ventures has invested in Silicon Valley-based ThoughtSpot, which helps users quickly analyze company data. LightSpeed Ventures led the round, expected to fund additional hires and expansion into the Asia Pacific region. Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release which noted that ThoughtSpot has amassed $160 million in funding.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 11:20am

Eye on CACI: Ross Wilkers of Washington Technology has a story about CACI International, its integration with two large acquisitions and its return to organic growth. Wilkers reports that CACI recently recorded its sixth consecutive three-month period with at least $1 billion in awards.

SMWiFairfax lineup for September 14 features speakers sure to engage, inform, enlighten and embrace the future

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) has lined up an impressive cast of communications and marketing pros for the September 14 SMWiFairfax forum to explore ways that social media is changing business, government and politics. The event will take place at Capital One headquarters in Tysons Corner, Va.

Take Brian Fanzo, for example. He has been called the “go-to millennial in the social media space,” and will be the morning keynote speaker and a member of “The Power of Podcasting” panel.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:54am

Hot off the press: Fairfax County is home to 132 firms on the 2017 Inc. 5000 annual ranking of America's fastest-growing private firms and, for the second consecutive year, is home to 14 companies in the top 500. Ranked 20th, DGC International, a Tysons Corner-based provider of technical services to government clients, is the top-ranked firm in the Washington, D.C. region. Also in the top 100 from our county: Interactive Government Holdings (government services, Springfield) at No. 36.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:53am

The Samba, Fairfax style: The FCEDA hosted a Brazilian government and business delegation yesterday in Tysons Corner. The group wanted to know how Fairfax County has built its business community and a technology-based economy. Read the FCEDA release here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:52am

Skillful maneuver: Upskill, formerly APX Labs, has relocated to new offices in Tysons Corner. DC has a photo-packed look at the digs on Westwood Center Drive. Stephen Babcock reports the 19,000-square-foot space is arranged in a "town hall" format to promote collaboration and provides areas for happy hours and meetups as well as for conferences.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:51am

Floating our boat: The Washington Business Journal reports that BoatUS, an organization for recreational boat owners and an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, plans to relocate to new headquarters in Springfield. In a story for  Business Journal subscribers, Daniel J. Sernovitz reports BoatUS signed a lease for a 60,000- 65,000-square foot facility on Port Royal Road. BoatUS represents nearly 548,000 national members who together own more than 1 million boats.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:50am

Room to grow: Octo Consulting Group, which provides digital services to federal customers, opened a new, 25-000-square-foot headquarters in Reston. Octo has hired more than 130 employees in the past 18 months. Virginia Business reports that In addition to housing the "OLabs" innovation laboratory, the new facility on Parkridge Boulevard includes flexible meeting rooms, private and semi-private workspaces and community areas.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:49am

Chief investigators: Constellis, a security and investigative firm with government services headquarters in Reston, will significantly expand with the purchase of Chantilly-based OMNIPLEX World Services from Altamont Capital Partners. Andrea Cwieka of the Washington Business Journal reports that Constellis, a subsidiary of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, is acquiring 2,100 employees and 1,700 nationwide investigators.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:31am

Stamp of approval: Vibrent Health of Fairfax has been authorized by the National Institutes of Health to offer its software-as-a-service precision medicine platform to both government and commercial customers. The approval means that the company's Learning Health System meets government data security and privacy requirements, according to Erica Barnes of

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:29am

On the accelerator: H.I.G. Capital completed its $283 million acquisition of Reston-based NCI, a provider of IT technology and services to federal agencies. NCI said it expects to accelerate growth and enhance delivery of its products, according to a release picked up by the Potomac Tech Wire.

Delegation from Sao Paulo, Brazil, visits Fairfax County eyeing ways to grow economy and business communities

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fairfax County, Virginia, August 16, 2017 – Twenty government officials, businessmen and investors connected to the private sector from the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, toured Fairfax County today, making stops at the Fairfax Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) in Tysons Corner and the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 11:29am

Fairfax County loses a 'titan' with passing of Tysons Corner visionary Jerry Halpin

It's safe to say that without Jerry Halpin, Tysons Corner would not look, feel or be the center of commerce it is today.

Gerald T. Halpin, who served as chairman and CEO of WEST GROUP for more than 48 years, died Monday in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Halpin, who was 94, was a driving force in real estate development in Fairfax County and the Washington, D.C., area.

Yesterday's headline in Bisnow called him "Titan of Tysons" and a "visionary developer."

Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the FCEDA, cited Sir Isaac Newton to describe the impact that Halpin had on the Fairfax County landscape. 

"To paraphrase Newton," Gordon said, "we stand on the shoulders of giants. Mr. Halpin was one of the giants -- a man who could see future possibilities and who made them reality.

"He was the first to understand the value of Tysons Corner and to realize that it could become a place for people to work and to live. Even before other could grasp his vision, Mr. Halpin was moving to make things happen."

The news stories and obituaries that popped up yesterday chronicled Halpin's vision well.

Writing in the Washington Post, Bob Levey noted that Halpin got involved in Fairfax County real estate by way of a poker game. One evening, while enrolled at the Georgetown University law school, he emerged the big winner in a game that included the president of Atlantic Research Corporation (ARC), where Halpin's wife Helen worked.

"The man was impressed and asked Mr. Halpin to oversee ARC's business operations. He never went back to classes," Levey wrote.

ARC "wanted to expand into Alexandria, Va., but available land was too expensive," Levey continued. "Mr. Halpin learned of an 89-acre parcel at Edsall Road and Shirley Highway [Interstate 395] and bought it on behalf of ARC for $600,000. The firm built its headquarters there in 1958 -- a distinct building with a parabolic roof that looked like a bicycle seat." ARC became one of Fairfax County's first technology-focused businesses.

Halpin formed a company that in 1960 developed Landmark Mall in Alexandria, noted Jon Banister of Bisnow.

Daniel Sernovitz of the Washington Business Journal wrote that "Halpin launched West-Group in 1962 with co-founders Charles Ewing, Thomas Nicholson and Rudolph Seeley. That same year, West-Group acquired 125 acres of farmland that would become, in combination with other rural land nearby, Tysons Corner."

For Bisnow, Banister wrote that the group started by buying the Storm and Ulfelder dairy farms and continued its land acquisitions, amassing 500 acres to become the largest landowner in Tysons Corner. The group developed the West*Gate office park inside the Capital Beltway and the West*Park development outside the Beltway.

During his career, Halpin developed more than 13 million square feet of office and residential space and retail properties. News stories also noted his interest in redevelopment of Tysons Corner, where he pushed for Metro stations and proposals to make the area more walkable and transit-friendly.

Halpin also invested in sustainable technology. He founded World Resource Co., an international metals recycling business in 1976, and developed Fairfax County's first carbon-neutral home in McLean. (An FCEDA TV ad was partly shot in the house.) Halpin also was the first finance chair of the Wolf Trap Foundation and raised the bulk of the funds that built the 7,000-seat Filene Center in 1971.

Mark Lowham, CEO and managing partner at TTR Sotheby's International Realty, was a longtime family friend of Halpin and served as executive vice president of West*Group under him.

"The most important thing I learned from him was it's really important that we engage and be supportive of the communities we live and work in," said Lowham, a former member of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Commission. "Jerry was a role model for that."

To what did Halpin credit his success? Here's a 30-second video that the Washington Business Journal shot in 2010 when Halpin was inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 10:53am

Now hear this: Mission Services Inc. (MSI) of Tysons Corner, a provider of IT support for federal agencies, is adding 400 new jobs to the Fairfax County economy. Gov. Terry McAuliffe made the announcement last Thursday. MSI will invest $820,000 to increase its presence here. The company has more than doubled its square footage on Jones Branch Drive in the last six months. WTOP radio and the Fairfax County Times were among those taking notice.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 10:53am

Hot off the press: The FCEDA today announced that it has joined forces with the Chamber of Digital Commerce, becoming the Chamber's first strategic partner among economic development organizations in the Washington, D.C., region. The Chamber of Digital Commerce is the world's leading trade association representing the digital asset and blockchain industry. The Chamber's mission is to promote the acceptance and use of digital assets and blockchain-based technologies. Read the full release here.

#HappyBirthday: Quintessential Twitter Feature Turns Ten

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 6:47pm
Ten years ago today Chris Messina posted the first hashtag on Twitter: How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?

Originally envisioned as a method of organization, the hashtag has gone from an obscure idea to indelible part of our communication landscape.

(Image credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

New Yorkers Mourn End Of An Era As 'Village Voice' Ceases Print Edition

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 3:49pm
A Village Voice newspaper stand lays on the ground next to garbage in New York City

On Tuesday, the famed alt-weekly announced it would be ending its free weekly print edition. The publication was purchased by Peter Barbey in 2015.

(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Headless Torso ID'd As Reporter Who Died Aboard Inventor's Personal Sub

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 1:02pm
Peter Madsen

Peter Madsen and the journalist set out alone in his submarine. Within days, the sub had sunk and Madsen had admitted that Kim Wall died aboard. Now, police say remains that washed ashore are hers.

(Image credit: Jens Dresling/AP)

Walmart, Google Join Forces In Online Fight Against Amazon

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 12:16pm
Walmart customers will be able to place an order by simply saying it out loud, using either the voice-activated speaker Google Home (left) or the Google Assistant app.

The world's largest retailer will hawk its products on Google Express for the first time, in a play to get a bigger chunk of the growing voice-enabled shopping market currently dominated by Amazon.

(Image credit: Eric Risberg/AP)

Unlikely Allies Join Fight To Protect Free Speech On The Internet

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 5:00am
White nationalist Richard Spencer

After big tech companies took action to take down white supremacist content, there have been calls for the government to step in to protect free speech from the right and left.

(Image credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Why Donald Trump Likes To Surround Himself With Generals

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 5:00am
President Trump speaks with newly sworn-in White House chief of staff John Kelly at the White House on July 31. Kelly is one of four former generals who were appointed to top administration positions.

High-level military brass may be able to bring discipline and order to an administration that sometimes has appeared to lack them.

(Image credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Harvesting Salt By Hand Is Making A Comeback In France

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 5:00am
Hervé Zarka uses a tool called a simoussi to rake up salt in his marshland on the island of Noirmoutier in France. He says there are many minerals in natural sea salt, such as magnesium and potassium, that aren

Since the seventh century, salt has been raked in and collected from shallow pools in marshes on the French coast. Refrigeration almost killed the industry, but the local food movement is reviving it.

(Image credit: Eleanor Beardsley/NPR)

Trump Administration Unveils Sanctions To Curb North Korea's Weapons Program

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 7:24pm
Ten Chinese and Russian companies as well as six individuals are targeted by a new round of U.S. sanctions aimed at curbing Pyongyang

Ten Chinese and Russian companies and six individuals are targeted. Many were tied to the rogue country's coal and resource trade and its efforts to send workers abroad.

(Image credit: Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Dakota Access Pipeline Owner Sues Greenpeace For 'Criminal Activity'

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 6:30pm
Greenpeace activists hang a banner from the rafters at a bank shareholders

Energy Transfer Partners alleges Greenpeace and other "eco-terrorist groups" tried to block its pipeline with "campaigns of misinformation." Greenpeace says the suit is a bid to "silence free speech."

(Image credit: Michael Buholzer/AFP/Getty Images)

Scientists Hope To Farm The Biofuel Of The Future In The Pacific Ocean

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 5:59pm
Kelp plants grow on a 30-foot-long, white PVC pole suspended in the water. If this is successful, instead of just one row, there would be a whole platform, hundreds of meters across and hundreds of meters deep, full of kelp plants.

International research labs are using seaweed to make biofuel, but little progress has been made in the U.S. Now scientists in California are developing a prototype to enable vast open-ocean farming.

(Image credit: Courtesy of David Ginsburg/Wrigley Institute)

$417 Million Awarded In Suit Linking Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder To Cancer

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 4:39pm

A California court has awarded a woman more than $400 million in a lawsuit claiming she got ovarian cancer from talcum powder made by Johnson & Johnson. NPR explores the science behind this claim.

In Alaska, One Man Fights To Save Oil Fund As Reserves Dry Up

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 4:39pm

For 40 years, Alaska has been putting its oil money into a giant savings account. But now the oil — and the money — are drying up.

Does Baby Powder Cause Cancer? A Jury Says Yes. Scientists Aren't So Sure

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 4:39pm
A California jury awarded a woman $417 million in a case against Johnson & Johnson. The woman claimed that her use of Johnson

Scientists have found an association between talc and ovarian cancer, but they don't agree on exactly what that means.

(Image credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Does 'Sustainability' Help The Environment Or Just Agriculture's Public Image?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 3:41pm
Wade Dooley, in Albion, Iowa, uses less fertilizer than most farmers because he grows rye and alfalfa, along with corn and soybeans. "This field [of rye] has not been fertilized at all," he says.

Big food companies like Walmart want farmers to reduce greenhouse emissions from nitrogen fertilizer. But the best-known program to accomplish this may not be having much effect.

(Image credit: Dan Charles/NPR)

'Smart' Pill Bottles Aren't Always Enough To Help The Medicine Go Down

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 12:56pm
About 50 percent of patients don

Lots of people forget to take their medicine on time. Now firms are selling "smart" pill bottles that send patients reminders through the Internet. But maybe the real problem isn't forgetfulness.

(Image credit: amphotora/Getty Images)

In Solar Trade Dispute, Will Proposed Tariffs Cost Industry Jobs?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 5:01am
Mark Holohan, solar division manager at Wilson Electric, stands in his company

Testing President Trump's promise to get tough on trade, two U.S. solar panel manufacturers are seeking to impose a tariff on panels made overseas. But many in the industry warn it could cost jobs.

(Image credit: Will Stone/KJZZ News)