Southern Maryland neighborhood with colorful houses on harbor

Southern Maryland Regional Innovation Ecosystem Collaboration


Fourth Economy Consulting was engaged by the Maryland Department of Commerce to work with the economic development offices in Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary's counties. Southern Maryland is home to Naval Air Station Patuxent River and Naval Support Facility Indian Head.


A heavily defense-dependent economy, Southern Maryland was looking to leverage that industry to support innovation and identify additional opportunities for diversification. While many related efforts existed, there was little history of collaboration among the three counties on these issues. Therefore, they engaged our team to facilitate the creation of a regional, consensus-based action plan.


Our team helped form a steering committee and engaged with over 50 local organizations to guide the work. Through a process that included interviews, working groups, and Build Sessions, we gained a deeper understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges facing Southern Maryland, including the lack of marketing collateral for businesses and anchor institutions to promote the region, an opportunity to grow its entrepreneurial ecosystem, an opportunity to grow and diversify existing businesses, and a need for a network of peer support from other small business owners in Southern Maryland.


We developed a work plan focused around three strategies: 

  • Promoting quality of life assets in the region

  • Creating a more coordinated and robust startup support system 

  • Developing programming and funding to support diversification through small business growth 


The results of the project included a partnership and MOU signed by Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s economic development offices, as well as the College of Southern Maryland Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute and the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, to build the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southern Maryland.


Economic Development Strategy