Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
St. Mary’s County’s Department of Economic Development
The St. Mary's County Department of Economic Development works to promote economic growth and development in St. Mary's County, Maryland. The department's mission is to "attract, retain, and expand businesses in St. Mary's County by providing resources and support to businesses, promoting the county's business climate, and fostering partnerships with local, regional, and state organizations." We were happy to engage with this client given our previous work with the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland (of which St. Mary’s County is a member) on their Regional Innovation Ecosystem Collaboration initiative.
A rural, peninsular community that is largely reliant on the defense industry given the local presence of the Navy and its base, St. Mary’s County struggles with a high cost of living, given its proximity to the D.C. Metro Area, as well as the development, attraction, and retention of talent that is trained in defense-technology related skills. The county’s topography as a coastal community surrounded by the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay provides unique quality of life amenities and environment, but limits the county’s ability to engage in commercial development and new business activity. The Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, as the county’s largest employer, has a huge influence on St. Mary’s County’s economy and has propelled the growth of innovation and technology in the region, though the county is interested in diversifying its economic base.
We were able to rely on new data provided by Select USA, which ran a diagnostic data report on the county in early 2022 which resulted in a full analysis of the strengths, opportunities, and challenges of St. Mary’s County with regards to its General Economic and Business Environment, Industry Clusters, Demographics, Workforce, Foreign Direct Investment and Export Competitiveness, Living Environment, and Education. This, along with the previous CEDS, as well as several other recent planning efforts within the county, gave us a great head start in understanding the unique economic environment within St. Mary’s County.
To produce the final CEDS document, we incorporated relevant data from the Select USA report, reviewed preliminary work related to economic resilience and new initiatives, and conducted interviews and stakeholder meetings to validate and refine the prior work of the EDC related to the economic development environment and resilience solutions. We had the benefit of the EDC’s previous work, which allowed us to narrow our strategy development to the four key areas they identified: Workforce Development and Talent Attraction; Tech Transfer, Development, and Innovation; Local Agriculture and Seafood; and Rural Development and Quality of Place.
Work is already underway in a number of key initiatives that are supported by the priorities stated in the CEDS, including the AeroPark Innovation District Master Plan’s implementation; Lexington Park Sustainable Communities Plan implementation; and new farmers market facilities to create expanded direct marketing opportunities for local agriculture and seafood products. Several other initiatives will be kicked off in 2023.
St. Mary's County, MD