March 28, 2023

TPP Speakers: Pax Investment Today & Tomorrow

Posted by The Patuxent Partnership
Pax II

Rebecca Bridgett

Rebecca Bridgett

Patuxent Partnership members received a glowing report of Southern Maryland and its future potential at the TPP annual meeting. Today’s pinnacle results from the contracting industry’s investment. The future depends upon it too.

St. Mary’s County Administrator Rebecca Bridgett reported on the tremendous educational and household income leap the county experienced during the recent decade. College of Southern Maryland President Brad Gottfried announced that the new regional campus slated to open in late 2014 will initially emphasize “putting people to work.”

Jeffrey Silberschlag

Jeffrey Silberschlag

But times are changing and what Ms. Bridgett described as a “new era of post-DoD spending cuts” was brought home in a passionate plea for corporate support made by Maestro Jeffrey Silberschlag on behalf of the Chesapeake Orchestra and the River Concert Series, which will celebrate its 16th season in 2014.

The growth in population, wealth and educational opportunities, as well as the call for increased cultural opportunities, such as the River Concert series, is not abating despite the “new era,” Ms. Bridgett mentioned. Today’s strategy to counter the spending cuts, she said, is to diversify.

This means increasing airport activity, assessing  infrastructure and transportation plans, and attracting emerging industries, said Ms. Bridgett. The vision of diversification “assumes and expects public and private participation,” she said.

Some of that expansion is obvious in CSM’s anticipation of opening its new regional campus in Hughesville, Maryland, in late 2014. The campus is slated to add a fine arts building and a theater in the future. But the first facility will be an expanded Center for Trades and Energy Training.  “It’s about economic development, putting people to work,” Mr. Gottfried said, about the building and energy trades certificate programs that can be completed in 8 to 16 weeks. “Not every student can wait for an associate’s degree.”

Brad Gottfried

Brad Gottfried

In response to questioning Mr. Gottfried said, “The citizens of Southern Maryland are underrepresented [in access to four-year colleges], so we are in conversations about this. But we’ll never have a Towson or a Salisbury down here. It would be more like the Universities at Shady Grove” in Rockville, Maryland. Shady Grove is a consortium of programs from different institutions in the University of Maryland System.

Ms. Bridgett used time travel to illustrate the significant changes that have occurred, and will occur, in St. Mary’s County. Residents are better-educated (90% with a high school degree, 30% with a bachelor’s degree or higher vs. 85% / 23% in 2003); have incomes higher than the state average ($82,000 now vs. $32,481, below the state average, in 2003); and many have transitioned into professional, scientific and management positions.

Looking ahead to 2023, Ms. Bridgett said she anticipates St. Mary’s population will grow 16% to 125,000. With 3.48 times the concentration of technology workers in the U.S. right here, she foresees that technology transfer for commercialization will be an essential driver of the local economy.

TPP Executive Director Bonnie Green and the three presenters addressed a packed room Oct. 30 at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.


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