At the time Jim Rouse’s company started purchasing land that would ultimately form his new planned community of Columbia, this region was already beginning to change from a rural area into a more suburban locale. But Rouse wasn’t merely building a suburb. He planned to build a complete city that respected the land, provided for the growth of people and would make a profit.

Columbia hasn’t merely benefited The Rouse Company and others who were involved in building the community, literally, from the ground up; Columbia’s growth has contributed to the growth of Howard County, and vice versa. Columbia and, in general, Howard County also have benefited from proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

People want to live and work here. They are drawn by the opportunities, by the beauty, by the amenities and services and everything else that goes into a high quality of life.

The positive impact Columbia Association (CA) has on the region’s economy was demonstrated in a study that was completed a few years ago by The Chesapeake Group. And it goes beyond CA being one of the county’s larger employers — though it is notable that CA employees residing in Howard County have an annual economic impact of $19.1 million, and those living outside of the county add another $28.8 million a year, for a total impact statewide of nearly $48 million.

The Rouse Company provided the spark and continued its work over the years. Rouse also made sure to incorporate CA, then known as The Columbia Park & Recreation Association, to manage the community and provide amenities that would not otherwise be available. Since its founding, CA has worked to provide a vast array of recreational, cultural and community services and amenities.

What CA and The Rouse Company created, and what CA continues to maintain, adds between 3.25% and 8% to the value of a home. The Chesapeake Group’s study compared home values in Columbia to those in other locations in Howard County — places that also have quality schools and a strategic location. The impact CA was found to have on housing values in total in Columbia is $295 million, at bare minimum.

There’s also a minimum impact of $820.3 million on commercial and industrial property values, for a total of more than $1.1 billion, at the very least; the upper end of the study’s estimates more than doubled that amount.

But CA isn’t the sole contributor to the property values and quality of life. This region is fortunate to have so many dedicated stakeholders, from the Howard County Government to the many businesses, organizations and nonprofits — as well as residents who care tremendously about and take great pride in where they live.

These efforts are why the Howard County Public School System is so highly regarded; why the Howard County Library System wins awards; and why the Columbia/Ellicott City area is regularly recognized as one of the best places to live in the entire country.

It is no surprise that decades after people moved here for the ideals of what Columbia and Howard County could be, so many have stayed here — and even more move here — because of the reality of what this area has become.

We are proud of the positive impact CA has on the economy. We recognize that this is due to the positive impact CA continues to have on people’s lives.

E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.