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Montgomery County, MD’s Business Climate Fueled By Location

Highly educated workforce, diversity of cultural experiences give Montgomery County curb appeal

By Bill Lewis on November 17, 2017

Rockville, MD
Rockville / Courtesy of Alan Karchmer

With a knowledge economy fueled by the most highly educated workforce in the country, an unparalleled diversity of cultural experiences, a standout quality of life and a strategic location just a few miles from the nation’s capital, Montgomery County is increasingly the address of choice for leading-edge businesses.

They include the headquarters operations of four Fortune 500 companies — Marriott, Discovery Communications, Lockheed Martin and Choice Hotels – and more than 225 foreign-owned businesses. Montgomery County is also home to growing clusters of businesses in sectors that are shaping the future, from cybersecurity and information technology to biohealth and biosciences.

When GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was looking for the best location for its new vaccines research and development center, the company quickly chose Montgomery County.

“Having our vaccines R&D Center in Rockville places GSK at the heart of a dynamic and cutting edge bioscience hub. We look forward to fruitful partnerships and collaborations in this community to advance the science of vaccines and help improve health of millions of people around the world,” says Frannie DeFranco, external communications manager for GSK. 

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Proximity to Washington, D.C.

The Rockville site, which GSK acquired in 2012 from Human Genome Sciences, offers proximity to the company’s research partners, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as important public health stakeholders. GSK is investing $50 million in the facility and creating 200 jobs. 

Marriott International selected Bethesda as the address for its new corporate headquarters. The $600 million urban campus includes a 22-story build-to-suit office building and a 230-plus room flagship hotel. 

“Marriott moved to its existing site in the late 1970s. Its vision for its new headquarters is to provide a cutting-edge workspace for its associates, offering state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities and access to a range of transportation options,” says spokeswoman Tatiana Daniel. 

The selected location on Wisconsin Avenue is a short walk from a Metro stop and adjacent to ample parking options. 

“It is near the heart of the Bethesda Central Business District with abundant resources for dining, shopping and other services that will support Marriott, its guests and employees,” Daniel says. “Downtown Bethesda’s vibrant mixed-use, urban community, with more than 200 restaurants, over 500 retail shops and 20 arts and entertainment venues, is a location that is true to the roots of the company founders and its corporate history.” 

Marriott’s new headquarters will provide a cutting-edge workspace, offering state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities and access to a range of transportation options. The new offices will meet green building standards, allow abundant natural light and provide workers with new opportunities for flexible, collaborative work spaces. The campus will also offer a child care center, a fitness center and a cafeteria. 

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Leading-Edge Businesses

It’s no surprise that so many national and international companies call Montgomery County home, including Lockheed Martin, MedImmune, United Technology and Discovery Communications. Technology, financial services and advanced manufacturing companies also have a major presence in the county. 

Montgomery County is home to the headquarters operations of 18 federal agencies, including the NIH, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

“Montgomery County is like no other place in the United States or perhaps the world. We have talent and infrastructure like no other place,” says David Petr, president and CEO of Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. 

In Montgomery County, employers benefit from a workforce with off-the-charts educational attainment. The workforce includes a greater percentage of adults over age 25 with post-doctoral degress (31 percent) than any other place in the country. The transportation infrastructure includes access to three international airports within a 30 minute drive and a robust Metro transit network. The county has more than 65 million square feet of office space, giving businesses the flexibility they need. 

A highly rated K-12 educational system and one of the largest systems of public parks in the country add to the quality of life, said Petr. 

Four of the nation’s 10 most-diverse cities are in Montgomery County, where 33 percent of residents are foreign born. 

“That drives our diversity of thought and cultural experiences,” says Petr. It also is a tremendous advantage for businesses looking for top-tier talent. Our diversity really fuels our talent economy.” 

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