July 14, 2024

Dignitaries Open Incubator at Airport

Dignitaries Open Incubator at Airport

Congressman Steny Hoyer speaks at the opening of the technology incubator at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 4 for the business incubator at the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport. He used the opportunity to urge Gov. Larry Hogan and the state of Maryland to capitalize on the exploding unmanned systems and robotics global markets with funding to draw world-class higher education research to the area and support technology-based manufacturing in the region.

The message wasn’t lost on Gov. Hogan, who offered the opening remarks noting that Maryland has been named “the most innovative state in America” and praised the new incubator for bolstering the tech industry in Southern Maryland. The governor particularly praised the use of public-private partnerships in its construction and its mission.

Thanked repeatedly during the ceremony were investments in the St. Mary’s County Airport by AirTec and ongoing development of the airport by S. Hunt Aero (including new hangars, expanded taxiways, and construction of the incubator and other facilities).

Rep. Hoyer (D-MD) secured federal funding to establish the incubator and has worked in collaboration with St. Mary’s County, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), and the University System of Maryland to establish the incubator.

Leslie Taylor, executive director of the NAWCAD, thanked Mr. Hoyer for his work on the congressional allocation that directs the military to invest in regional technology transfer. And she congratulated the state and local efforts that built an incubator supportive of this effort in Southern Maryland. The Patuxent River Naval Air Station is the largest naval air warfare center in the Navy. Chris Kaselemis, director of St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development, thanked Ms. Taylor for the confidence in awarding a grant to St. Mary’s County to support the project.

“Today’s ceremony represents a partnership between the military, academia, and the private sector,” Congressman Hoyer said. “I want to thank the St. Mary’s County commissioners for their leadership on this project. The future is very bright for St. Mary’s County, and I look forward to the new innovations and start-up businesses that grow out of the business incubator.”

The incubator is located next to the University of Maryland’s UAS Test Site at the St. Mary’s Airport, making it an attractive location for entrepreneurs. Adding to its draw, the University of Maryland will be overseeing the incubator. Just “as our footprint continues to grow” in St. Mary’s County, said Laurie E. Lasacio, vice president for research at the University of Maryland, the university’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovative systems continues to grow. The dual opportunities to meet these missions at the airport led to the naming of the incubator TechPort at the Airport.

The CEO of Maryland Technology Development Corporation, George Davis, noted he has visited incubators across Maryland, many of them very good. “But you won’t see many like this, with a hangar right outside.”

Late last month, Rep. Hoyer urged Gov. Hogan (R) to continue to support a three-point plan for Southern Maryland that includes:

  • Engagement of the University System of Maryland to bring the world-class research capabilities of USM into the region;
  • Creation of an Institute for Autonomous/Unmanned Systems and Technology to develop a world-class aviation research and technology center at the St. Mary’s County airport, co-located with USM, the University of Maryland UAS Test Site, and the Southern Maryland Research Center; and
  • Grow the manufacturing capacity in Southern Maryland, with a focus on rapidly expanding aircraft modification work.

In a letter dated Nov. 28, 2017, Rep. Hoyer wrote that with a few key commitments from the Hogan administration, the region could implement the plan.

“Ensuring the smooth transition of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center (SMHEC) to the University System of Maryland is a key component,” Rep. Hoyer wrote.

The SMHEC Board of Governors of the SMHEC has voted unanimously to merge with the University System by July 2018.

Completing the research building for that campus requires $27.865 million in the state’s fiscal 2019 capital budget to begin construction, Congressman Hoyer wrote. With more than $7 million already invested in the planning and design of the facility, the project is ready to break ground. By including these additional funds, the project will remain on schedule to open by 2020, he said.

“To properly fund a new institute that will capitalize on the exploding unmanned systems and robotics global markets, I would ask you to include funding to the University System of Maryland of $5 million each year for the next three years. Creating an Institute for Autonomous/Unmanned Systems and Technology as part of the research mission at the California, Maryland, campus would support the federal research and development mission at Pax River and position the State to grow with this emerging industry,” he wrote.

Follow Congressman Hoyer on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader Page.

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