Women have made great strides in the business world over the past half-century, both in Fairfax County, VA and across the nation. To further empower female entrepreneurs and business owners, Fairfax County has implemented a variety of initiatives to help them succeed. The Fairfax Founders Fund (FFF) is a grant and technical assistance program that provides funding to startups based in Fairfax County. This program seeks to expand competitive technology clusters in the county and grow innovation-based businesses and jobs.
Applications for the FFF will open on April 10th. The Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives (FCEDA) also offers support to potential and existing small business owners, including women, veterans, and minorities located primarily in Fairfax County. FCEDA will notify applicants who are considered ineligible for the FFF award. Additionally, Rowan Tree provides a scholarship to local women entrepreneurs who may face financial obstacles to membership. Fairfax County is home to 8,800 IT companies large and small in a variety of industry specializations. To ensure that all groups are represented, Fairfax County has launched an extensive marketing campaign focused on encouraging diverse and disadvantaged groups to apply for the FFF grant, such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, and veterans. In addition to the FFF grant program, there are other organizations in Fairfax County that provide support for female entrepreneurs and business owners.
Keystone is a group of women who have come together based on their shared experiences as women in the small business community with physical establishments. By creating a safe and comfortable group, they are able to support each other on a human and business level. Fairfax County is also home to many successful female business owners. Sheila Johnson is CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts in Middleburg, Loudoun County. Kristina Bouweiri is the owner, president and CEO of Reston Limousine in Sterling.
In addition, Fairfax County's former Director of Economic Initiatives, John Milliken, trained thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and advised more than 600 clients, helping many of them open businesses ranging from art to a French bakery to motorcycle rental. Fairfax County seeks to support and invest in the growth of its innovation and technology sector, even with traditionally underrepresented and diverse groups. Neither Fairfax County nor the FCEDA will assume any intellectual property that may result from the award of the FFF award, and dealers will retain ownership of the equipment purchased with FFF funds. If a beneficiary moves their main facility from Fairfax County to another jurisdiction earlier than 24 months from the date the grant was awarded, a proportionate share of the grant funds must be reimbursed. Fairfax County (including the DEI) and the FCEDA are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). With these initiatives in place, female entrepreneurs and business owners in Fairfax County have access to resources that can help them succeed.