Welcome to the Post 200

December 15, 2013

Ordinarily, our pages would be filled with the latest news on government contracting, commercial real estate, technology, banking and the business of law, but this week we take time out to focus on the region’s very biggest—the companies, law firms, nonprofits and other organizations that power our local economy. ¶ It doesn’t take too long to go through the list to realize just how connected we still are to the fortunes of the federal government, even as the greater Washington business establishment becomes more diverse.

The top of our list, the biggest of the biggest, continues to be dominated by defense firms and government contractors, but they are being rivaled by the likes of the specialty manufacturing conglomerate Danaher, private quity firm Carlyle Group and AES, a sprawling energy firm that owns power plants around the globe.

A couple local behemoths are now two: SAIC split itself into Leidos and SAIC, and both firms are big enough to make our list.

So too are the two parts of what used to be The Washington Post Co. The former parent of this newspaper now calls itself Graham Holdings, and the formal name for the newspaper company purchased by Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos is WP Company.

There was plenty of business activity in 2013, a reflection of the gyrating economy. One of the giants on our list of private companies, Hilton Worldwide, became a public company late last week, too late to adjust our pages.

Elsewhere, we bid goodbye to companies such as Sourcefire, a cybersecurity firm that was gobbled up by networking giant Cisco, and Arbitron, the audience measurement concern bought by the Nielsen ratings firm.

In fact, so many public firms faded from our list that spots opened up for some of the region’s largest publicly traded community banks. As a result, Sandy Spring, Cardinal Financial and Burke & Herbert join the Post 200 this year.

The Post 200 is an evolving document, a snapshot of local business. We are continually tinkering with our formula to produce a cross-section of enterprised that best represents our local economy. Let us know what you think. E-mail us at capbiznews@washpost.com.

—Dan Beyers

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