It’s often said that Charles County is the best of both worlds. We are part of the Washington DC metropolitan area – arguably one of the most important urban regions in the country. And, we are part of Southern Maryland, an historically rural area with a strong agriculture heritage, lots of open space, and many ties to the water that makes up our 300 miles of shoreline. Living and working in Charles County means access to big city advantages, suburban conveniences, and rural charm because the benefits we have right here in our community are enhanced by additional assets in neighboring jurisdictions to the north and south: the Washington DC metro and Southern Maryland.
This is why regional economic development is so important.
A Regional Focus
Economies don’t know County lines, City limits, or State borders; commerce flows easily from one jurisdiction to another. What’s more, Site Selection experts tell us that corporate searches for new locations always start with a focus on regions. Once the best region is identified, then they zoom in on the individual localities within that region.
Being part of two distinct regions, Charles County Economic Development Department is part of two regional economic development initiatives.
Southern Maryland Region
The Southern Maryland Regional Innovation Collaborative (RIC) was the outcome of a multi-year effort by the State of Maryland to support economic development in Southern Maryland – which is made up of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties. The state’s concern was that the presence of two significant military bases in the region could lead to an imbalance of industries. So, the goal was to diversify our mix of businesses.
The economic development departments in the three counties have been joined by the College of Southern Maryland and the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland to implement three initiatives under the RIC.
- Enhance our “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” referring to support for startup businesses.
- Help those existing businesses that want to continue growing.
- Promote the quality of life in Southern Maryland to attract and retain both businesses and young professionals.
Washington DC Metro Region
The Maryland National Capital Regional Economic Development Alliance (MNCREDA) is a collaboration among the six Maryland counties in the Washington DC metro area: Anne Arundel, Charles, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. The group is relativ new, and its long-range mission was diverted by the COVID crisis. The idea was proposed in late 2019, and the alliance was formalized in the Spring of 2020, just as we were entering into the state of emergency. But the timing turned out to be a huge benefit as we faced new economic development challenges due to COVID. The six counties have met weekly for the last year – online, of course – to share best practices, exchange information, and help each other help our businesses during this time. Now, with the crisis diminishing, weekly MNCREDA discussions are getting back to the original intent of developing initiatives to raise awareness of the Maryland jurisdictions in the Washington DC metro area and enhance our competitive position in the region – especially related to Northern Virginia.
Benefits of Collaboration
Of course, our economic development staff is also active in the Maryland Economic Development Association, which provides training, networking, and advocacy for economic development and the businesses we serve.
These regional – and State – partnerships add enormous value to Charles County’s economic development program, which in turn benefits to our businesses and our citizens. I am hopeful that through regional initiatives and collaboration, we are better positioned to attract future short and long-term investments into Charles County and Southern Maryland while simultaneously protecting and enhancing past investments.