Leading IT Company Seeks the Best of Both Worlds
1901 Group is a market leader in innovative public sector IT services, delivering cloud, cybersecurity, and enterprise managed services to transition customers from traditional IT infrastructure to hybrid cloud solutions. In 2009, company founder and CEO Sonu Singh, who was raised in Blacksburg, Virginia, made a strategic decision to build 1901 Group around an innovative new business model that included locating the majority of its employees in rural Montgomery County to focus on engineering and operations, while locating sales and front-office employees in urban Fairfax County for proximity to its customer base in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.
Despite concerns that federal agencies would be wary of outsourcing IT functions to smaller communities, 1901 Group instead experienced a substantial increase in the use of its services over the last decade, growing at a compound annual rate of 30% over the past six years. The success of this model positioned the company for considerable future growth, with the federal government spending $100 billion a year on IT services. 1901 Group kept its focus on Virginia: the company expanded its Fairfax County office in 2018, opened a facility in Abingdon in March 2020, and will be moving into its new 45,000-square-foot Enterprise IT Operations Center in Blacksburg in June 2020.
The Virginia Solution
Urban and Rural Business Benefits
Seventy percent of the world’s internet traffic passes through Northern Virginia, which is home to the largest data center market in the U.S. (Site Selection 2019) and widely recognized as the nation’s Cyber Capital. 1901 Group’s corporate office in Fairfax County is at the center of activity in the Commonwealth’s booming IT sector, and close proximity to the U.S. capital provides the company with all the advantages of accessibility to federal customers and strong industry clusters in government contracting, defense electronics, IT, data centers, and biotechnology.
Montgomery County, located in the New River Valley in the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, boasts world-class higher education institutions and a substantial talent pool, combined with moderate costs of living and doing business. 1901 Group’s first 800-square-foot office space grew rapidly after 2009 as the company began establishing more of its technology operations in Blacksburg. A nine-minute average commute, breathtaking scenery, and an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities offered 1901 Group’s software developers, data analysts, and cloud engineers the benefits of 21st-century high-tech jobs and highly desired quality-of-life amenities.
Statewide Access to Talent
Already at the forefront of emerging sectors like cloud computing and cybersecurity, Virginia is committed to technology and innovation and boasts the second-highest concentration of tech workers in the nation (Cyberstates, 2019). The Commonwealth is preparing for future growth for IT companies through its top-ranked higher education system.
The New River Valley is home to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, one of the Commonwealth’s largest universities and a leading research center, as well as Radford University and New River Community College. Approximately 50,000 students study within 15 miles of 1901 Group’s Montgomery County operation, promising a wealth of untapped talent to support the company’s anticipated future growth. Meanwhile, Northern Virginia offers proximity to 1901 Group’s target customers, as well as an unparalleled IT workforce trained by more than 60 higher education institutions in the region, including George Mason University, George Washington University, and Northern Virginia Community College.
Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program is a groundbreaking initiative in collaboration with leading universities in the Commonwealth that plans to create 31,000 computer science graduates in excess of current levels over the next two decades. Boosting the tech talent pipeline will ensure that companies like 1901 Group can access skilled talent in every corner of the Commonwealth.
1901 Group Reinvests in Virginia
In 2018, 1901 Group committed to a major joint expansion in Montgomery and Fairfax Counties, with a combined capital investment of $4 million and a total of 805 new jobs. The company plans to create 225 jobs at the corporate offices in Fairfax County by 2021 and grow its Enterprise IT Operations Center in Blacksburg by 580 new jobs. 1901 Group was one of five companies in the New River Valley to receive the Onward New River Valley’s Regional Impact Award in 2019, recognizing its role in stimulating the region’s economy.
1901 Group continued its goal of creating high-quality IT jobs clustered in rural areas. In March 2020, 1901 Group announced plans to invest $1.15 million to establish its third Virginia operation and create 150 new jobs in Washington County. The new 1901 Group Operations Center at the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator in Abingdon will expand the company’s operational footprint and enhance its cloud-based internet technology services.
1901 Group’s revenue in the federal market has increased by 35X in the last eight years. Much of this growth can be attributed to operating in the Fairfax region, which has a strong technology focus and great access to talent. Our business model also leverages the talent, the quality of life, and the advantageous cost of living in Montgomery County. Our goal of creating high-quality IT jobs clustered in rural areas is the best way to improve quality and performance for the federal government, especially as the pace of cloud adoption increases. Our revenue and headcount growth are proof that this is the next big trend in rural IT jobs.
Sonu Singh CEO of 1901 Group
1901 Group’s creation of 150 new jobs is just the start of its vision in Washington County. The company sought a location that could easily be expanded as business grows, and the region offers the required access to talent at nearby universities and community colleges. Southwest Virginia fits the business model 1901 Group has worked to build — hiring talented individuals in rural areas with demonstrated work ethic and providing them the opportunity to upskill and grow within the IT field.
The success of the company’s business model, ranging from urban Northern Virginia to the New River Valley and rural Southwest Virginia, demonstrates the assets, infrastructure, and talent that can be found across the Commonwealth’s diverse regions. 1901 Group’s continued investment boosts Virginia’s IT industry sector and is an exciting indicator of the future role that regions of all sizes can play in supporting the growth of major tech employers.