Featured Green Business Partners Ally: Department of Economic Initiatives

December 14, 2023

Green Business Partners Allies are organizations or companies that work directly with businesses in Fairfax County to further the mission and vision of the GBP program. On this page, we are featuring a conversation with our inaugural Ally, the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives (DEI).

DEI logoCan you tell us how your organization supports businesses in Fairfax County?
The Department of Economic Initiatives (DEI) leverages county resources and develops policy recommendations to foster economic development and position Fairfax to be an economically competitive and prosperous community. DEI delivers innovative solutions to cultivate a diverse and thriving local business base, foster an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem within the County and the region, building on competitive economic strengths.

Are there particular types of business that your organization focuses on?
DEI works closely with small, local businesses to advise and guide them as they grow. Through its three divisions, DEI supports all types of businesses in Fairfax County. The department’s Catalytic Development division facilitates development through public-private partnerships that address strategic priorities. DEI’s local and small business division delivers innovative solutions to cultivate a diverse and thriving local business base. Finally, the Economic Innovation and Strategy team fosters an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem within the County and the region, building on competitive economic strengths. Finally, the Small and Local Business team works with companies as they start or grow their businesses. 

What types of resources are available from your organization for businesses to support sustainable business practices? Or Fairfax County in general as a location for green businesses to thrive?
The Department of Economic Initiatives currently offers small business resources, technical assistance, and grant funding to promote sustainable business practices. The department supports entrepreneurs and provides small business resources through its Business Experience (BizEx) program., which will soon grow to include Fairfax CORE, a web based small business resource navigator, that will debut in spring 2024. Additionally, the department’s Fairfax Founders Fund promotes innovation in the sustainability sector, by awarding non-dilutive grants to disruptive early-stage product-based technology companies.  DEI also has plans in place, through its Fairfax Talent Up Fund, to address local workforce challenges, and support work-based learning efforts, which will help local companies who need sustainability staff continue to grow.  

What do you see as the key incentives or motivators for businesses to adopt sustainable business practices?
Businesses, in general, want to be part of the solution. However, they are also cognizant of their bottom line. Consequently, they are motivated by methods that address the three most common business constraints: cost, time, and resources. Businesses are more inclined to adopt sustainable practices that are convenient, low cost, and can be implemented without an increased burden on their staff. 

How does the mission of the Green Business Partners program fit into the mission of your organization as a whole?
The Green Business Partners program compliments DEI’s mission to foster economic development and position Fairfax County to be an economically competitive and prosperous community for all.

What is something more businesses in Fairfax County could benefit from if they knew about it?
Fairfax County businesses can benefit from learning more about local, regional, and federal grant opportunities. Regional programs like the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation’s Commonwealth Commercialization Fund (CCF) seek technologies with a high potential for economic development and job creation. Federal grant opportunities offered by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program allow small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from commercializing their solutions.

Is there anything else you would like to highlight to GBP Members and Leaders?
Grants and programs are available to help businesses go green. If you are a start up, the Fairfax Founders Fund, may be an avenue to get a $50K grant to further your business. The upcoming THRIVE program, also may be a way to get consulting help to reposition your company in the green industry. Other opportunities present themselves often, so stay plugged into your local chambers, business groups and listservs to hear about upcoming programs that can benefit your business.

Learn More

Visit Department of Economic Initiatives website for more information.

DEI logo with mosaic district in the background

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