"One of the industry segments that we have great strengths in is aerospace and aviation.”

By Gerald Gordon, President & CEO of Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

“General Dynamics has its global headquarters in Fairfax. Northrop Grumman has its global headquarters in Fairfax County. Lockheed Martin, British Aerospace, a lot of aerospace companies have thousands, literally thousands, of jobs located in Fairfax County," Gordon added.

Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is looking to attract more companies too.

“We'd like the connections with British companies,” Gordon commented. “They tend to be very technology-savvy and they tend to be very well-financed and well-planned.”

Skills

Gordon also noted that companies in Fairfax County have key strengths in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity, which are increasingly essential in aerospace.

“We have more cybersecurity jobs in Fairfax County than any other community in the United States,” Gordon said.

The Development Authority is actively working to develop the skills of people in the area to fill these roles.

Gordon explained: “We really try to take the existing employee base…and upgrade their skills through training. We take a lot of people coming out of colleges who have degrees in psychology or some other area, and translate them into cybersecurity and try to get them into IT training.

"Then we start with the schools, the public schools for young children – particularly young girls, who seem to at some point grow an aversion to science and math, but happen to have great skillsets in those areas – to try to encourage those children all the way through their high school years to go into science and technology areas.” 

Collaboration

Gordon also noted the technology “community” in Fairfax, which boosts innovation.

“Our companies are active in the community, with the community and with other companies in the community,” he said. “There's a critical mass of businesses in the community [and] they exchange ideas. 

He added; "Interestingly, two companies may be competitors on one contract or they may be subcontractor and contractor, and then flip that on other contracts. It's a great community just because there's a lot of buzz and interaction between the companies."

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