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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, Part IV:  The R-B “Entrepreneurship Ecosystem”

by Dan Gonzalez

This is the fourth and final installment on my focus on Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston (R-B) corridor, the three-mile area consisting of Rosslyn-Courthouse-Clarendon-Virginia Square-Ballston --- all with Metro stops. 

The R-B Corridor has become what is known as an “entrepreneurship ecosystem.”  An entrepreneurship ecosystem is an environment where diverse people and ideas can come together and then surround that convergence with resources to grow for the benefit of the region. 

A major part of the R-B Corridor ecosystem is the presence of large military and government agencies such as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency),  Office of Naval Research, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and National Science Foundation….all within blocks of each other and with a combined $130 billion in federal research funding.   These agencies are looking to 1) advance existing technologies through commercialization or 2) acquire new technologies.  Either way it is an exciting prospect for entrepreneurs to build a company on providing improved existing technology to these federal groups OR submit proposals for technology to receive research funding (aka...The Cookie Jar effect).

Also adding to the dynamism of the R-B ecosystem is the location of satellite campuses of two world class universities: Virginia Tech and George Mason University.   And, as previously noted, the R-B ecosystem is the beneficiary of great real estate. Projections are that the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor will continue to be one of the most desirable residential and commercial markets in the DC region; and, importantly, one the most attractive areas, for all the above reasons, for entrepreneurship and operating a business.  The R-B Corridor has prospered during the worst recession in decades, but there are rumblings that office vacancy rates may trend upward over the next several quarters due to relocations of government agencies such as Fish and Wildlife and a large number of commercial lease expirations. However, if this entrepreneurial ecosystem picks up steam it could provide a demand and supply balance for the next several years.

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