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Diversity and Unique Advantages Attract Montgomery County, MD Businesses

A blend of talent, location, resources and quality of life create a winning environment for prosperity.

By Bill Lewis on February 6, 2020

Alan Karchmer

Businesses of all sizes, from the largest international enterprises to one-person startups, are discovering the path to success leads through Montgomery County, Maryland.

A diverse community of more than 1 million residents on the doorstep of the nation’s capital, Montgomery County leverages talent, location, resources and support, making it an ideal choice for business success.

“Our diversity of people feeds innovation across all industries, from BioHealth, cyber and technology to entrepreneurs generating new ideas for startups,†says Bill Tompkins, interim president and CEO/COO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp.

The diversity of Montgomery County’s highly educated workforce is one reason global electronics manufacturer Patton Electronics is based in Gaithersburg. 

Montgomery County, MD’s Welcoming Sense of Community

“Beyond the most often cited proximity to the nation’s capital, Montgomery County offers several distinct advantages over other locations. As a producer of telecommunications and internet technology equipment and software, with customers around the globe, few other locations can satisfy our need for technically savvy, linguistically diverse and highly educated talent,†says CEO Robert Patton.

The company’s international success begins in Montgomery County. Patton Electronics employs about 80 people at its Gaithersburg headquarters. All of the company’s products are produced in its local manufacturing facility, using sophisticated and automated electronic assembly and production testing.

Diverse Workforce

“Much of our product development is done in Montgomery County, including hardware design, software development, mechanical design and design for manufacturing. All sales and technical support for the Americas is also directly managed, coordinated and executed here. One of our data centers for our cloud services is located here as well,†Patton says.

One of the pillars of Montgomery County’s economy is a workforce with off-the-chart levels of educational attainment. More than 58% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree and 31% have post-graduate degrees.

Montgomery County attracts talent from around the world, making it the second-most-diverse county in the United States. Four of the 10 most-diverse communities in the nation are in Montgomery County, where more than one-third of residents are foreign born and 138 languages are spoken in its public schools.

Another economic pillar is the innovation driving growth in industries like BioHealth and cybersecurity and creating new clusters in leading-edge fields, such as health information technology.

Rockville, MD Health Care
Rockville / Charlie Chang

“Montgomery County leads the way in supporting BioHealth companies for research, discovery and commercialization,†Tompkins says.

The County has the first local Small Business Innovation Research-Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR-STTR) matching program in the country, which has supported many leading life science companies. The County created the first local Biotech Investment Tax Credit, and more than 400 separate investments have been made, Tompkins says.

Eighteen federal departments and agencies are headquartered in Montgomery County, including all of the top federal agencies for regulatory, research, pricing and policy, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health. Montgomery County has an abundance of affordable wet lab space compared to other bio hubs, such as Boston, New York and San Francisco.

Alan Karchmer

Unique Advantages

Cybersecurity companies are thriving because of the region’s unique combination of advantages.

“MoCo companies receive great state and County support serving federal and local governments and private sector security needs,†Tompkins says. “MoCo companies span the gamut of cyber defense – specialists in services and solutions that include risk audits, recommendations and implementation for protection and compliance to more product-based businesses focused on devising innovative new products to solve specific cyber problems.”

Other top industries include hospitality, which generated 44,000 jobs in Montgomery County and $21 billion in revenue in 2018 alone. Marriott International, Ritz-Carlton and Choice Hotels International are among the 30 global hotel brands with headquarters in Montgomery County.

Advanced manufacturing, health care and agribusiness are other industries that attract companies to Montgomery County.

“Small business and entrepreneurship are robust in Montgomery County, where close to 50% of businesses are women-owned and 45% are minority-owned. Great services and support organizations are available to help entrepreneurs in virtually every step of business development, from creating a business plan to finding a location, funding and hiring,†Tompkins says.

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