According to the National Association of Counties’ estimates, the Gross Domestic Product for Anne Arundel County is at $35.7 billion, making it the fourth largest county economy in Maryland. Such a robust economy is not just the result of favorable national and regional trends; rather, it is achieved by supporting major economic drivers within the county, and providing resources to support and expand business ventures and industries.
Anne Arundel County benefits from six major economic drivers, which are business zones that serve regional, national and global markets. These hubs are the priority focus of the many initiatives the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) undertakes.
The North County Industrial Zone, a short distance from the Port of Baltimore, serves the Baltimore-Washington region in connecting to international markets. The area is composed of a majority of Anne Arundel County’s manufacturing sector, which consists of 264 establishments employing more than 11,000 people. This zone also counts more than 400 warehousing and transportation businesses in the area, which employ another 10,400 people.
In western Anne Arundel County, national security is the core industry of the Fort Meade Cyber and Defense Complex Zone. Fort Meade is Maryland’s largest employer, with more than 50,000 employees, 40% of whom reside in the county. As home to 116 U.S. Department of Defense and non-DOD organizations, including six of the top eight U.S. cyberdefense agencies, Fort Meade pumps $800 million in procurement to county businesses.
Outside the gates, more than 600 cyber and defense-related businesses are located in the county, employing 8,200 people in cybersecurity-related jobs.
With more than 9,700 badged employees, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is another vital hub in the county, as well as the state. It is the largest airport, by passenger count, serving the Baltimore-Washington region. The airport has more than 688 U.S. and international flights daily, and in 2014, served more than 22 million travelers. BWI Marshall includes a 395,000-square-foot Air Cargo Center, which is a Foreign-Trade Zone. More than 240 million pounds of cargo passed through the airport in 2014, and it accounts for $5.6 billion in economic activity in Maryland.
Between BWI Marshall and Fort Meade is another economic zone, Arundel Mills. Although the area has its share of professional services firms, it is mostly known as one of the most popular retail and entertainment destinations for the region. A major component is Maryland Live!, the largest gaming facility in the state, which employs 3,000 people. It contributes $15 to $17 million in revenue directly to the county.
As the capital city of Maryland, Annapolis’s unique blend of history and technology creates a thriving environment for business and entrepreneurs. The area’s diverse industry base of maritime, cybersecurity, advanced technology, professional and business services, and tourism is a stable generator of job creation and business opportunities.
Annapolis attracted more than 6 million visitors in 2013, spending more than $3 billion on local businesses. A number of government agencies are located in the area, as well as prominent institutions, such as the United States Naval Academy, St. John’s College and Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC). The area boasts a well-educated, well-trained workforce, with a business climate and an environment in which small to medium-sized businesses can flourish.
Anne Arundel County also benefits from its two regional hospitals. In addition to their hospital centers, AAMC and the University of Maryland’s Baltimore-Washington Medical Center (BWMC), in Glen Burnie, provide health care services at more than 70 multi-specialty locations in the county, as well as in Prince George’s County and on the Eastern Shore. A total of more than 6,000 people are employed at both systems which, combined, have operating revenue of more than $1 billion.
Significant research and innovation emanate from these health care networks, propelling the development of cutting-edge medical technology. AAMC’s Simulation to Advance Innovation and Learning Center (SAIL) provides training for health care practitioners using life-like technologies, featuring high-fidelity mannequins that simulate real medical situations, as well as testing of medical technology. In early 2015, BWMC was the first hospital in Maryland to acquire the new da Vinci robotic system. The technology allows for less invasive surgical options, providing patients with reduced pain and quicker recovery times.
The AAEDC’s role is to support businesses, particularly in these economic zones, through a variety of services, like its financing and promotion of tax credit programs. They help businesses expand and encourage additional investment. AAEDC’s business development associates engage companies daily and provide free services, such as permitting and zoning guidance, real estate searches and market research.
Startup businesses benefit from AAEDC’s Small Business Resource Center. Counselors from a number of partner organizations are accessible at this one-stop shop, where entrepreneurs can get help with business plan development, marketing, applying for financing, management training and other issues.
Emerging technology ventures get special assistance at AAEDC’s Chesapeake Innovation Center (CIC). The CIC leverages its location, adjacent to the gates of Fort Meade, to bolster its relationships with federal agencies and defense contractors. This connection is a great benefit to innovative companies incubated at the CIC that want to take advantage of procurement and technology transfer opportunities.
Anne Arundel County’s thriving economy is not just indicative of the growth of new ventures. It also benefits from initiatives that reinvigorate older and more established business districts. Business owners can leverage a county tax credit and AAEDC’s Arundel Community Reinvestment (ACR) financing to invest in the improvement of commercial spaces. Since 2007, AAEDC has closed 32 such loans totaling approximately $1.1 million.
Supporting business growth is at the heart of the AAEDC’s mission. By providing resources to large corporations, small and growing businesses, and new entrepreneurial enterprises, AAEDC creates more jobs, spurs additional investment and expands the tax base.