Tech Boom in the Beltway

This long stretch across Maryland, northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., has rapidly become the new hot spot for burgeoning tech companies

"We have the software engineering skills, and Optimus brought the telecommunications expertise that was needed to complete the project," says Garrett. Since government contracts account for 90% of Garrett’s revenues, he finds it invaluable to have access to the people who control the government’s purse strings.

Emmit J. McHenry has started two companies in the D.C. Metroplex. He sold the first, Network Solutions — the firm that assigns Internet domain names — in 1995 and launched his current venture, NetCom Solutions, only miles away. "I don’t even have an office in this building,"McHenry says of his company’s Herndon headquarters. He travels often and prefers to stay connected to the office via laptop and telephone. He refers to his company as a "virtual enterprise," with executives in cities around the country. "There’s no need to stay in one place," he says.

However, McHenry is quick to point out that for his headquarters, the D.C. Metroplex is the only choice. McHenry cites many of the same advantages as his counterparts, from government contracts to an abundance of partnering opportunities, but he mostly focuses on the region’s quality of life. "This area has a very high per capita income, and there’s access to good schools and universities," he states. "People come here because the work is here, but they stay here because it’s a great place to live."

Of course, African Americans have always been attracted to D.C. But rather than work for the government until their inevitable retirement, many are now taking the skills and contacts they honed as government employees and starting their own companies. The growing number of African American technology businesses in the area will add to the supportive community and local resources that already exist. As the Metroplex becomes one of the top technology hubs in the world, African American entrepreneurs are helping to lay the groundwork for the Information Age.

— Additional reporting by John Aspatore

Resources in the Metroplex
Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
8300 Boone Blvd., Suite 450
Vienna, VA 22182
Phone: 703-790-0600; fax: 703-893-1269

Fairfax Electronic Commerce Resource Center (ECRC)
10640 Page Ave., Suite 400
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-691-1507; fax: 703-691-8948

High Technology Council of Maryland
9700 Great Seneca Highway
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone 240-453-6200 ; fax 240-453-6201

Morino Institute
1801 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 550
Reston, VA 20191
Phone: 703-620-8971; fax: 703-620-4102

Northern Virginia Technology Council
CIT Tower, Suite 300
2214 Rock Hill Road
Herndon, VA 20170
Phone: 703-904-7878; fax: 703-904-8008

The Potomac Knowledge Way Project
2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 100
Herndon, VA 20170
Phone: 703-742-0500; fax: 703-742-7607

Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology
2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 600
Herndon, VA 22170
Phone: 800-383-2482, or 703-689-3000
Fax: 703-689-3041

Washington, D.C., Technology Council
1401 New York Ave. NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-637-9333; fax: 202-637-9393

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