Fairfax County, Virginia, perhaps little known outside the US for being the number two center for information technology outside Silicon Valley, will put itself on the map this year by hosting the World Information Technology and Services Alliance’s 1998 World Congress on Information Technology, and is out to spread the word to international companies wanting […]
Fairfax County, Virginia, perhaps little known outside the US for being the number two center for information technology outside Silicon Valley, will put itself on the map this year by hosting the World Information Technology and Services Alliance’s 1998 World Congress on Information Technology, and is out to spread the word to international companies wanting to establish a presence in the US. Dr Gerald Gordon, president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, says the area is far better suited to European companies wanting to set up an office in the US than Silicon Valley, because of the time difference, there being at least a two or three hour overlap with the East Coast working day. Situated as it is immediately to the West of Washington DC, Fairfax originally grew up as the US government’s space and defense center as well as telecommunications and satellite, but now boasts more than 2,000 commercial IT companies situated in its major centers including Reston, McLean, Vienna and Herndon. The area is particularly strong in internet and telecommunications companies, and Gordon claims some 50% of all US internet traffic passes through the County on any day. Given the internet was pretty much invented out of Washington DC, it is no surprise that companies like America Online Inc, Uunet Technologies and PSINet Inc are all based in Fairfax County. Equally, all the major telcos are present, and the UK’s British Telecommunications Plc’s North America base is in Reston, and Cable & Wireless Plc’s is in Vienna. Aerospace is also very well represented, and the UK’s British Aerospace has its US base in Chantily. One UK company that is heading for Fairfax is Rochdale, Lancashire-based software and consultancy house Synentia Ltd. Set up in 1993 by Tahir Mahmood, a former Microsoft Corp developer, Synentia makes its money from consultancy, Windows systems development and from a couple of products, the latest of which is Cellular Mail, which forwards internet electronic mail POP3 to a mobile phone using the SMS Short Messaging System. Mahmood believes it is the right time to take his business into the US, particularly the Cellular Mail product, and chose Fairfax for the proximity of the major telcos and Internet companies, as well as the time zone which will enables him to continue to work with the UK company. Synentia opens for business in Reston on March 2. Fairfax County currently has the fifth largest area of office space in the US, behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC and Gordon expects it to move up to second or third in the next few years. Some 7% of its area is currently designated for commercial use, and currently only 4% is utilized. To really establish its position as an IT center, Fairfax County pitched to host this year’s World Congress, a bi-annual event, and won. The Congress, targeted at chief executives of all major technology companies worldwide, will focus on the major trends and issues facing information technology and its impact on daily life in the next century, and boasts an impressive list of international speakers that include President Clinton, former-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as industry luminaries including The Boeing Co chairman and chief executive Philip Condit, Oracle Corp’s Larry Ellison, Dell Computer Corp’s Michael Dell and Netscape Communications Corp’s Jim Barksdale. It takes place from June 21 to 24 and details are available from http:www.eda.co.fairfax.va.us/fceda.