Howard County: At the Center of Cyber

Monday, January 14, 2019

Howard County is Cyber Central. It became that before we realized it. Before the media started paying attention. Before it was cool to be in cyber. Before people even thought about what their digital footprint was. Before it even got a name.

This area became the epicenter and it happened naturally; growing, expanding and evolving. Each success and failure spurred more attention, more innovation, and more investment in the community. Ideas became bolder and companies grew bigger. This community quietly became one of the nation’s leading cyber centers, just out of the public eye.

Initially fueled by talent out of the Department of Defense and Ft. Meade, the industry meticulously grew, along with the need for information security. The innovation of employees, success of neighboring firms and pressure of competing companies expanded the momentum sustained by the ever-increasing amounts of investment and entrepreneurship.

Thus, success begets success. We have seen it day after day, year over year. Companies start, make breakthroughs, spin off new companies, get acquired, employees turn ideas into companies, founders invest in the next big thing, and firms leave the nest. All this activity raises the profile of the entire region higher.

The cyber industry continues to sow and reap its innovation right here in our county. This region has nearly twice as many cyber professionals as anywhere else in the country. The best of the best, from leading markets all over the world, are packing up and relocating here to play in the major leagues. While some companies surreptitiously grow nestled in secure facilities, encased in unassuming office buildings, there are also internationally recognized companies choosing to make their future here in Howard County. From defense to agriculture, their services have become vital for every industry, and are now as important as facility and financial security. Often, the firms doing the most incredible things don’t have names on their buildings, sales pitches on their website, or come up in conversation.

We are proud to serve this unique and expanding market. Several years ago, we made a special effort to support the growth and expansion of this industry in Howard County as part of our business development strategy. As a team, we have traveled to many of the world’s largest cyber security conferences, together with many of the business who already call Howard County home. Collectively, we are ambassadors for this region, promoting the unique combination of resources and community present here, and our efforts have worked.

We are building upon these efforts in early 2019 as we look to open an Innovation Center in Howard County. This resource will be a centerpiece to support the growth and development of this sector, providing the programs and strategic partnerships needed to foster small business innovation.

New companies land here, companies start here, companies relocate to and from here, but they don’t leave here. They may move to and from one of our neighboring jurisdictions, but they don’t leave the thriving community in this region.

As economic development professionals, it is our job to support these companies and connect them to the community to aid them in their growth. With each company we support, the entire region benefits. Together, we have created a market that now can compete against any national market who wishes to rival us.

This industry is here to stay. The innovative professionals who support it have found something special here, and Howard County is at the heart of that effort. Our combination of geography, welcoming business community, high quality of life, and access to the industry’s leading talent has made us a “must be” location. Seemingly, as soon as a company outgrows their space, another moves in. Despite new construction underway and steel going up in the air; vacancy rates remain low.

This is a unique time for Howard County and the surrounding region. We are proud to continue to do our part to support the incredible cyber security industry and are humbled they have chosen to make Howard County their home.

About the Author: 
Lawrence F. Twele, CEcD
CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority

Lawrence “Larry” Twele is the CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. He has had a decorated career in economic development holding various positions across the state in several jurisdictions. You can read more about his accomplishments on the HCEDA Staff Listing page.

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