In March 2008, upon his retirement, after 23 years of service in the U.S. Army, Waldorf resident and veteran Olajide Ijadare established Multi-Ethnic Shopping Mall Online (MESMO) Inc., an online grocery store, featuring goods from his home country of Nigeria and elsewhere around the world. Ijadare quickly found his initial idea transforming, leading him from the online retail business to federal contracting. “Like other entrepreneurs, my startup idea soon morphed into another enterprise and better aligned with things I learned in the Army,” says Ijadare.
MESMO, no longer a retail site, now offers a wide range of translation services, and a myriad of management, logistics, budgeting and associated administrative management services to federal government clients. For Ijadare, headquartering MESMO in Charles County was a no-brainer thanks to the area’s unique community and short commute to Washington D.C.
“The County’s access to the extended retired military and foreign service officer communities remains one of the better benefits offered by the County’s proximity to the Capital,” says Ijadare. Though, if you ask his employees what the best part of working in Charles County is, Ijadare believes they would say the ability to “work in their field of experience while being closer to home.”
MESMO is one of many federal contractors to set up shop in Charles County in recent years. AveningTech, led by U.S. Army veteran Lee Platt, is headquartered in La Plata. The 80-employee contractor offers technology services such as network defense, cybersecurity, and information technology to Department of Defense (DoD) clients. In laymen’s terms, as Platt says, “We help make sure our DoD clients don’t end up on the front page of the Washington Post.”
For Platt, locating her company in Charles County was more than just a strategic business move. “We have proximity to D.C. and the epicenter of DoD funding, but with the added benefit of being able to live in a beautiful, rural area without the stresses of the city,” she says, adding, “We’re in a place that is idyllic—a water-oriented environment, rich in natural resources.”
Federal contracting is a growing industry in Charles County; local federal contractors include Zekiah Technologies, Facchina Global Services, Chemring Ordnance, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Contractors based in the County enjoy close proximity to clients based in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and even closer proximity to facilities based right in the County, such as the 3,500-acre Naval Support Facility Indian Head, all without higher than average operating prices of the D.C. metro area. Employers have no shortage of talent to draw from—with 5,000 civilian DoD employees residing in Charles County, and more than 800 scientists and engineers based at the Naval Support Facility Indian Head—making Charles County an ideal location to start or grow a federal contracting business.