Rendering of the new Maryland Technology Center under construction across from the Velocity Center in the Town of Indian Head
“CSM's Velocity Center demonstrates how a good and well thought out catalyst project can induce other development," said EDD Chief of Development, Taylor Yewell, speaking at a Maryland Economic Development Association conference last month.
During a visit to the Town of Indian Head in 2015, Congressman Steny Hoyer, who represents Charles County as part of Maryland’s Fifth District, convened a roundtable discussion with local stakeholders. County and Town officials were there, along with representatives from the base at Indian Head, members of the then newly created Military Alliance Council, and private sector businesspeople. The discussion centered on how the community could help to revitalize the Town of Indian Head. Changes in the way the Navy manages installations, increased security, and squelched development just outside the Town had sent contractors behind the fence at the base and left the Town’s commercial properties abandoned.
That meeting in 2015 led to a series of discussions over the next few months, which led to the idea for an “innovation center” where scientists and engineers from the base could engage partners to explore new technologies and ideas. Leadership from the College of Southern Maryland stepped up and committed to operating the facility and eventually took the lead in bringing the project to life; they called it the Velocity Center.
A Public-Private Partnership
In the following years, a lot of people worked very hard to help the College turn that vision into reality. The Charles County Board of County Commissioners, the Town of Indian Head, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Military Alliance Council (MAC) were all instrumental in providing support for the project, as well as the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Department of Housing and Community Development. Local, State, and Federal elected officials were also key in procuring public funding for the Velocity Center. Mid-Atlantic Development Partners is the single largest private investor in the project and will own and lease the facility to CSM.
Maryland Technology Center
The project caught the attention of the US Bomb Technicians Association (USBTA) a professional association of bomb disposal specialists, academics, innovators, and industry partners. Today, USBTA’s new headquarters is under construction across the road from the Velocity Center – also a Mid-Atlantic Development project. Known as the Maryland Technology Center (MTC), the 30,000 square foot facility – formerly a grocery store and drug store – is under renovation to become home to USBTA, several of its member businesses, and other base contractors. These four companies will co-locate with USBTA:
- Mithix Pro: manufactures and develops tools and equipment for Bomb Technicians
- MED-ENG: manufactures the Bomb Suit for bomb technicians as well as robotic platforms and other tools
- DETECTACHEM: manufacturers explosive and drug detection equipment
- D.S: supplies military and public safety gear and equipment
USBTA’s First Event: Robot RodeO
USBTA recently held the first of what will be many events hosted in the Town of Indian Head and the Velocity Center. The Eastern National Robot Rodeo took place the first week of August with about 140 participants from all over the country, generating 375 hotel room nights, and estimated direct spending by visitors of $98,000. Multiply that by 6 to 8 events a year, and the impact is significant.
More Plans Brewing
Other activity is and has been brewing in the Town. The locally owned Clarity Coffee House opened a few years ago, run by local entrepreneurs who believed in the vision of a revitalized Town of Indian Head. Today, the owners are working with the Town to bring a small, locally owned grocery store to the Town. Other retail and services are sure to follow.
The Velocity Center was created to support the base and help revitalize the Town of Indian Head by bringing people, jobs, and commerce back into the community. Today this “good and well thought out project” has turned out to be the redevelopment catalyst it was meant to be.