One Year, One Vision
At my one-year anniversary as CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), I want to thank the community for the warmth and support they have extended to me, and provide an update on the exciting work your HCEDA has initiated during the past 12 months.
During the early months, I spent many hours meeting government and business leaders in the county. I also logged many miles visiting not only the densely populated areas of Columbia and Ellicott City, but I explored the rural farmlands that give the county its rich agricultural industry. These travels, and the wonderful people that I met, confirmed my belief that Howard County is not only a wonderful place to live, but it is a wonderful place to do business.
I have noticed that some communities, realizing the need to “run faster,” have become more aggressive and creative in their efforts to attract and retain businesses. We in Howard County must guard against becoming complacent due to our many successes. The charge that I received from the HCEDA Board of Directors and County Executive Ken Ulman was clear — build on the foundation of the past and do what’s needed to make Howard County the region’s leader in economic development.
We have restructured the HCEDA with the creation of a business development team and a marketing team, and I have also had the pleasure of launching the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE). This new structure has allowed us to bring some of the best professional talent available to bear on the HCEDA’s primary missions of bringing new businesses to the county, and helping existing county businesses grow and expand.
Our Business Development Team (BDT) has generated a current pipeline of 89 prospective companies considering relocating to, or expanding in, Howard County. These companies collectively represent potentially 416 new and 634 retained county jobs that would occupy 307,050 square feet of space of office/manufacturing. We are also actively engaged in projects such as Route 1 revitalization, Historic Main Street in Ellicott City and Columbia’s downtown.
Last month, the BDT journeyed to New York City to meet with four of the nation’s premier investment banking firms. The purpose of the meetings was to market Howard County as an ideal place to relocate a corporate headquarters and gather information on the perception of Howard County by investment decision-makers and advisers.
The BDT team also played an important role in the county executive’s successful effort to maintain Howard County’s AAA bond rating, in spite of the state’s economic challenges.
Our new marketing team has recently begun the process of developing new branding and a new web site for the authority. These efforts will result in our ability to effectively communicate the benefits of Howard County to those outside the region, as well as provide our business community with easy access to a full range of information and services.
The launch of the MCE is not only our largest and most exciting initiative, it’s also the effort that will have the longest lasting impact on the county’s economic climate. Our proximity to Fort Meade and other cyber-related organizations/companies provides an environment rich with creative technological minds.
With the county’s technology incubator as a keystone, the MCE will provide an ecosystem where the ideas and passion of these men and women can flourish and develop into commercial products and services that become companies — and create jobs. We are assembling a top flight team of business experts who have begun positioning the MCE as a regional leader in technology entrepreneurship.
While I am very proud of these accomplishments, I am most proud of the team that I am building at the HCEDA. My “rock stars,” as I refer to them, have brought with them not only stellar professional credentials, but they distinguish themselves with a work ethic and passion that is second to none.
I look forward to coming to work every day because I know that whatever challenge the day brings, my team can handle it.
As you can see, I’m looking forward to year two with great optimism.
— Laura Neuman, CEO
Howard County Economic Development Authority, Columbia