The other side of establishing the new Howard County Community Resource Campus is the large amount of suddenly available space in the 88,000-square-foot Gateway Building. Larry Twele, CEO for the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), said the move-in process of its Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) into that building will be an ongoing effort.
But even though act one is just getting underway, it’s already time to start the second act. “By pulling the agencies together [elsewhere] and opening up that space in our Gateway building,” said Twele, “we can continue to spur the Innovation District and keep working on turning the MCE into a more robust location.”
At the old Bendix building, where it’s currently located, the MCE has been limited to 25,000 square feet to accommodate more than 20 companies, “but when all of the human service agencies move out of [the Gateway] building, we’ll have 50,000 more square feet available, which will allow us to move [the MCE] here and help us accommodate other entities,” he said. “Some may be new and suddenly available to assist our cause, like educational entities and accelerators, as well as co-working space for small entrepreneurs, a demonstration space and room for a new speaker series.
“What it does,” said Twele, “is give us the ability to attract the right stakeholders.”
So far, there is a small amount of vacant space available where the county’s police department and its housing commission moved out that hasn’t been renovated. “However, we were able to offer some of the startups who left the Chesapeake Innovation Center [in Anne Arundel County] last summer some space, so they have a roof over their heads until we start moving forward,” he said, noting that there is also one MCE graduate company there, VitusVet. “They’re an early settler.”
The MCE move-in date is slated for early 2019, and Twele is looking forward to the new possibilities that lay before the HCEDA, having already seen what can be accomplished when multiple services are offered under one roof.
“We’re the only EDA in the state that runs its own incubator and tech council, and Howard Community College is here, too,” he said. “That give us a tremendous advantage by [spurring] attraction and retention. And we’re already talking to various innovators.
“We want the new venture to not only be a big deal for Howard County,” Twele said, “but a big deal for the region.”