The Farnborough area is home to many of the UK’s home-grown defence and aerospace suppliers and hosts the UK offices of numerous US-based companies that flock to the area to be near the biennial Farnborough International Airshow. During the past 70 years, the Farnborough region has built a robust defence and aerospace community. Across the pond, Fairfax County, Virginia is Farnborough’s twin.
Fairfax County, with its proximity to Washington, D.C., is home to the largest concentration of aerospace and defence companies in the United States. Big names like Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Leidos, Rolls-Royce, and Raytheon are among those found in the county. These businesses have clustered around one of the United States’ largest international airports as well as government agencies, including the Department of Defense, CIA, NSA, FAA and NASA.
As the world’s largest and most successful airshow in the world, Farnborough is a major attraction for these aerospace companies. In 2016, Virginia imported a total of $233 million in airplane and helicopter parts (up 15.4 percent over 2015) and exported $306 million in civilian aircraft, engines, and parts. More broadly, Virginia and UK trade is robust. The UK is Virginia’s fourth largest export market with $895 million in goods exported in 2016. On the import side, Virginia imported $770 million in goods from the U.K. in 2016, making the U.K. the Commonwealth’s 10th largest trading partner.
I know both areas well. I work two miles from the Farnborough runway and am a member of the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, but have lived in Virginia and now represent the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), which works with UK companies interested in expanding in the U.S. The will have a booth on the FAC stand at the 2018 airshow.
Fairfax County has several other international extension offices in cities including Berlin, Bangalore, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv, each linked closely with their nation’s defence and aerospace industries. I work closely with US companies in the area including Lockheed Martin and Boeing and with U.K.-based companies that have U.S. interests including BAE Systems, Serco, and Rolls Royce.
Serco is a great example of the connections between this area and Fairfax County. With its global HQ just a few miles down the M3 motorway from Farnborough, Serco established its North American foothold in Fairfax County. Since then, the company has grown to become a leading provider of professional, technology and management services. The company has told the FCEDA that its Fairfax County location helps it serve its primary customer base — the US federal government — but also enables it to be close to its offices in Canada and across the United States, thanks to easy access to Dulles International Airport.
For UK-based aerospace companies and component suppliers, Fairfax County should be at the top of the list when expansion into the United States is considered. The county’s existing industry base, combined with its proximity to the big players in the U.S. government and exceptional quality of life make it a location second to none. Fairfax County is a diverse place with schools among the best in the nation, a vast park system and a location near Washington, D.C., providing a multitude of cultural opportunities.
For those who like the Farnborough region of England, there are many similarities and much to like about Fairfax County. Reach out to me to learn more about opportunities in Fairfax.