Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman joined economic development officials, property owners, and businesses to announce his vision to turn Columbia Gateway, Howard County’s largest business center, into an innovation district.
Located at the intersection of I-95 and Rt. 175, midway between Washington and Baltimore, Columbia Gateway is home to over 400 businesses, employing approximately 26,000 people. The park combined with neighboring Gateway Commerce Center is 920 acres with a total of 8.1 million sq. ft. of commercial space.
“Building upon the tremendous success of Downtown Columbia, we need to continue to be aggressive in the way we plan to meet the demands of tomorrow’s economy. We now have a unique opportunity to work closely with stakeholders to create a new framework to drive innovation and economic development in Howard County,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Many of the pieces necessary to help elevate Columbia Gateway into becoming a hub of innovation for our region are already here. I am excited and encouraged to work alongside the great companies and institutions to help get it there.”
Under the County Executives new vision, the business park would be turned into an innovation district, where leading-edge companies work with anchor educational intuitions and startups to collaborate on new technologies and services. Creative connections would be fostered with more compact, wired, and transit rich development patterns. Innovation Districts are an economic development model that has emerged not only in the United States, but around the world.
“We know that in order for there to be a healthy innovation environment you have to create connections and community,” said Lawrence Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. “One of our first goals will be to engage the people and businesses already here. People need to interact, get to know their neighbors and build connections. The more relationships we have here the better the opportunities for growth.”
The development of the plan will be driven by property owners and businesses in Columbia Gateway and coordinated by the Howard County Economic Development Authority. For the near term, the plan will include community based programing, such as food trucks, local produce sales, running and cycling races, happy hours, and outdoor events to help create connections between the employees in Columbia Gateway. Over the longer term, new land uses, infrastructure and transportation improvements would also be assessed as part of the future vision.
“We are excited to already have the support of many of the business and property owners in Columbia Gateway,” said Twele. “As we proceed with planning we will be working closely with the property owners inside the community. They see the potential that this community has and have committed to helping create a more connected and vibrant environment with growing amenities and infrastructure to support it.”
Major property owners include the Howard Hughes Corporation, Corporate Office Properties Trust, DB Asset Management, Abrams Development Group and the Columbia Association. Howard County Government owns an 88,000 sq. ft. which houses The Howard County Economic Development Authority along with other county agencies.
Columbia Gateway already has several large employers, including Oracle, Merkle, Tenable, and Leidos, and several education and research entities also have facilities in the community, including USRA, Howard Community College and Johns Hopkins, and the recently expanded UMBC Training Center. There are also support entities for startups including TEDCO, MasterPeace Launchpad and the HCEDA with locations in the community.
Columbia Gateway is generally defined as the area located south of Rt. 175, west of I-95, and east of Snowden River with the exception of any properties connecting to Oakland Mills Rd, the Snowden Square shopping center and the Hopewell community on Solar Walk. The area is roughly the 1.5 miles in height and 1 mile wide. A recent evaluation indicated that only 15% of the land inside Gateway is buildings.