Blog: Asking Tough Questions: Maria Angelica Vargas Talks International Business

Monday, September 26, 2022

September 26, 2022- Pinpointing the right setting for an international business is daunting for any enterprise. By anticipating the challenges and articulating its competitive edge, Howard County is developing a blueprint for international businesses to locate, expand, and collaborate with confidence. If you seek a global presence in a specific region, but don’t know where to start, Maria Angelica Vargas, HCEDA’s Director of International Business Development, encourages you to ask the following questions of the county or municipality courting your business:

1. Is your business relationship built on trust and credibility?
Relationship-building communicates the quality of an offering in a global marketplace. HCEDA attends international trade missions and shows that make its value proposition clear. Building upon industry strengths and existing U.S. cybersecurity alliances, Howard County conducted a trade mission to Germany in 2018. Once the U.S. Department of Commerce made formal introductions, HCEDA engaged the Cyber Security Council Germany, explaining the ecosystem of talent, partnerships, and support available in Howard County. Based in Berlin, the Cyber Security Council Germany supports cyber businesses, associations, and decision-makers mitigating global cyber crime.

With strategic introductions paving the way, HCEDA nurtured this relationship and hosted a visit to Howard County that made the advantages clear. A cybersecurity roundtable planned exclusively for the German delegation’s visit, featuring local firms and potential collaborators, set the partnership in motion. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, communications stayed robust, keeping Howard County top of mind. Four years after that initial meeting, the Cyber Security Council Germany proudly established its U.S. presence, opening an office at the Maryland Innovation Center in May 2022. Their presence in the U.S. marketplace creates a pathway for like-minded international companies to follow suit.

2. Do locational assets align with company objectives?
Howard County’s advantages in the cybersecurity space are compelling. Home to a groundswell of data science innovation, cybersecurity thrives in Howard County. With prime access to over 70 technical laboratories, 20 military facilities, and 60 federal agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), U.S. Cyber Command, and key federal partners, Howard County has the second highest concentration of cyber jobs in the nation and access to a talent pool of about 125 ,000. By honing in on its assets and identifying firms that align with industry goals, HCEDA stacks up in the global market.

3. Are partnerships readily available to advance your goals?
Whether small to medium-sized companies are new or established, Maria Angelica advises, they need “multipliers” to expand their success. These multipliers, which can increase economic growth exponentially, stem from collaboration, innovation, and resources that support a company’s goals. Using the Cyber Security Council Germany as an example, it was clear that the organization would benefit from the HCEDA International Soft Landing Program’s contacts, R&D potential, legal, and permitting support. Similarly, introducing a new or established company to collaborators whose reputation is well-established builds capacity.

Magic happens when relationships, advantages, and opportunities align. HCEDA has created a model for collaboration that’s well-integrated and honest about Howard County’s strengths in the marketplace. Visit this space next month for another international business story worth celebrating!

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