AED at SXSW: Regionalism is the Key to Successful Business Attraction

"Tap into the government" is what we told the recent attendees at SXSW to do. What exactly do we mean by that?

Our area is booming with opportunity for startups who have technologies with application in the government, especially the defense arena. With agencies like DARPA, NSF, ONR and DHS in our backyard, this is certainly an area left untapped for businesses in the high-growth industries of cybersecurity, big data, drones and related fields. That being said, we decided to team up with Alexandria Economic Development Partnership at SXSW (South by Southwest, one of the largest arts/music/technology conferences in the world) to co-host a luncheon, as both jurisdictions focus on this strength of doing business with national defense agencies and promote existing initiatives.

During SXSW, AED reps highlighted TandemNSI, a public-private partnership between Arlington Economic Development and Amplifier Ventures, which helps foster relationships between entrepreneurs, startups and federal government agencies. Alexandria showcased "The Bunker," a startup incubator for military veterans based in Old Town, Alexandria. We also teamed up with Tech Cocktail to help promote the region to startups and entrepreneurs in order to educate the attendees and audience on the incentives and reasons why to look at Arlington and Alexandria for potential business in the tech space.

Although the region has a lot to offer, something that I realized during this partnership is what the national capital region lacks, which is, well, regionalism. Despite our strengths individually, we've been missing a huge opportunity to pool our equally impressive efforts and work together as a region. One of the messages we started to educate people on at SXSW is that a total of ~$3.7 billion dollars is given out each year for research and development to small businesses; further evidence that this region gives access to that capital and why there is opportunities for companies to tap into the government. Our new regional way of thinking could be just what's been needed to promote interest in Arlington and the entire capital region.

Topic: BIG Update
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