Busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor still in need of man­age­ment

Sev­eral pro­pos­als turned down so far

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JA­SON BAB­COCK jbab­cock@somd­news.com

The timetable for a new busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor ven­ture in St. Mary’s County is be­hind sched­ule be­cause a suit­able man­age­ment firm has yet to be iden­ti­fied.

A 6,000-square-foot build­ing was con­structed at the St. Mary’s County Re­gional Air­port in Hol­ly­wood in or­der to pro­vide up to 12 small busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs space to fur­ther di­ver­sify the lo­cal econ­omy.

St. Mary’s gov­ern­ment put out a re­quest for pro­pos­als for a man­age­ment team to run the busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor and three firms ap­plied, but none of them ranked high enough to be con­sid­ered, Chris Kase­lemis, direc­tor of the St. Mary’s County De­part­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, told a joint meet­ing of the county com­mis­sion­ers and Navy of­fi­cials on Tuesday.

The Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer Of­fice of the Naval Air War­fare Cen­ter, Air­craft Divi­sion pro­vided $1.9 mil­lion in fund­ing for the busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor.

The build­ing is com­plete, fur­nished and ready to go and is be­ing leased from S. Hunt Aero for $90,000 for three years.

With no man­age­ment team yet se­lected, St. Mary’s

gov­ern­ment “is cur­rently de­ter­min­ing next steps,” Kase­lemis wrote in a memo to the com­mis­sion­ers.

The re­quest for pro­pos­als in­cludes $1.3 mil­lion for a three­year con­tract. “The county re­ceived sev­eral pro­pos­als; how­ever none of the pro­pos­als scored high enough to be awarded the con­tract,” Kase­lemis wrote.

The pro­pos­als that came in were from com­pa­nies that were ser­vice- ori­ented busi­ness ap­proaches, Com­mis­sioner Tom

Jar­boe (R) said on Tuesday.

“That’s not what we were look­ing for at all,” he said.

The com­mis­sion­ers are look­ing for in­no­va­tion and product de­sign firms and aren’t nec­es­sar­ily look­ing for lo­cal compa-

nies either, he said.

“We’re tak­ing a new ap­proach,” he said, lev­er­ing the re­sources of the Univer­sity of Mary­land sys­tem, which has a cam­pus near the air­port.

The as­sets around the air­port in­clude the Univer­sity of Mary­land Un­manned Ae­rial Sys­tems Test Site, the South­ern Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter, PaxS­pace and sev­eral pri­vate sec­tor firms “that spe­cial­ize in tech­nol­ogy driven avi­a­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tion work, such as AirTec and ASEC,”

Kase­lemis wrote.

A new $80 mil­lion Univer­sity of Mary­land re­search build­ing is coming to the South­ern Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter as well, Kase­lemis said, which will fo­cus on un­manned au­tonomous re­search, test­ing, eval­u­a­tion and ed­u­ca­tion. Con­struc­tion is planned for this fis­cal year.

“There is a lot of work that goes on out at St. Mary’s air­port that peo­ple don’t know about,” Jar­boe said, in­clud­ing work on air­craft from South

Amer­ica.

He said the com­mis­sion­ers are tak­ing their time to open up the busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor.

“The in­cu­ba­tor build­ing is fin­ished and once a se­lec­tion is made re­gard­ing a man­age­ment team, an agree­ment will be pre­sented to the Com­mis­sion­ers of St. Mary’s County for ap­proval,” Kase­lemis wrote.

In Septem­ber of last year, the com­mis­sion­ers ex­pected the busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor to be open this past spring.

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