Reston-based Refraction is eyeing larger office space in the area in preparation for an expansion that will add 800 jobs in the next five years.
Currently located in Reston Town Center, Refraction plans to use a portion of the recent $1 million investment from Fairfax County toward securing new office space.
The county’s Board of Supervisors approved the use of the economic development funds yesterday (Nov. 20) for the company’s expansion.
Founded in 2014, Refraction (11911 Freedom Drive, Suite 850) is a coworking community for startups and high-growth companies. The “innovation hub” provides educational programs, along with networking and mentoring events. Currently, more than 55 companies are a part of the Refraction community.
Esther Lee, CEO of Refraction, said conversations about the move started a few months ago. Refraction wants to keep its Reston roots in order to strengthen the area’s “innovation ecosystem” by encouraging companies in its coworking space to stay and add new jobs.
A report by the Brookings Institution last year found that the D.C.-area has had the biggest loss of digital tech jobs in a five-year span compared to 50 other cities with large digital employment.
Lee called the report “alarming” and said she wants to see Refraction take an active role in boosting job growth in the region. “We want to grow the future Googles and Amazons of the world,” Lee said.
Refraction is looking to move to an office space in Reston that it roughly 25,000 square-feet in the next three to six months, she said, adding that finding a new location, receiving tenant approval and signing the lease all take time.
Refraction is working with Boston Properties to find another space in Reston Town Center.
The move to the larger space affects the launch of the Refraction’s apprenticeship program it is currently developing with the Northern Virginia Community College.
The apprenticeship, which is supported by the funding from the county, train workers for startups and high-growth companies. The goal is to launch the program early next year, Lee said.
“Lots of companies have a hard time hiring people with the right skill sets,” she said. “Many kids coming right out of college haven’t had startup experience.”
Photo via Refraction/Facebook