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Korean start-ups thrive in Fairfax County

By Gerald L. Gordon

If you are familiar with Fairfax County, Virginia, located just outside Washington, DC, then you are likely familiar with the fact that we are home to one of the largest Korean-American populations in the United States. In fact, according to the 2010 US Census, more than 60 percent of all Korean-Americans living in Virginia are located in Fairfax County. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Fairfax County is home to nearly 60 Korean-owned businesses.

There are a broad range of industries in Fairfax County and Korean startups in the county reflect that business diversity. GINIA is a Korean-American consulting firm that has been supporting commercial and government agencies since 2002. With expertise in both the technical and personnel side of IT, GINIA supports the organization, management and analysis of secure information. The company credits its growth to its leadership, building on a foundation of selecting the right people, process and technology, made possible because of opportunities afforded by Fairfax County.

Language on Demand is a federal contractor that offers interpretation and translation services. The company also provides cultural and language training to members of the American military about to be stationed in Korea. The company credits its start-up success to the healthy business environment in Fairfax County.

Design Be Art creates sophisticated, detail-oriented models for architectural and design firms, real estate developers, and government agencies. The continual development and construction underway in the Washington, DC region has fueled Design Be Art’s success. 

Gerald L. Gordon
Gerald L. Gordon

The growth of these businesses is due in large part to the county’s thriving start-up ecosystem and the resources available at the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Because training and education are the building blocks of a successful business, the FCEDA offers a Business Diversity Program. This program provides individualized, one-on-one assistance to existing businesses, startups and small businesses and lends support at all stages of the business lifecycle. Entrepreneurship 101 workshops, which give an overview of start-up basics to businesses to those looking to begin doing business in Fairfax County, are also available.

Fairfax County also is home to several organizations that serve as resources for Korean startups. One example is MACH37, designed to facilitate the creation of the next generation of cybersecurity product companies. Another success story is the Inova Personalized Health Accelerator, a program that helps personalized health companies through the early stages of product design, capital formation and commercialization.

Korean businesses can also obtain support and resources through the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency incubator, whose mission is to contribute to the well-being of Korean people by facilitating global business; the Korea Innovation Center, which works to raise the attractiveness of the Korean creative economy to aspiring entrepreneurs and investors around the world; and the Information Communication Technology Cooperation, which is a federal project created to bridge IT Partnerships in US and Korean markets.

Fairfax County has the highest density of startups in Northern Virginia, according to Fosterly’s 2016 regional census. Most of these startups were founded in the last five years, making Northern Virginia home to 32 percent of startups in the region -- 14 percent of which are headquartered in Fairfax County.

We welcome all Korean businesses and entrepreneurs to Fairfax County. Along with the benefits of having many large companies headquartered here, we build enormous opportunities for small companies and startups as well.

Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., is president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Fairfax County, Virginia. -- Ed.