By Raj Kudchadkar, President and CEO, Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce
What is the state of the economy in the communities surrounding Fort Meade? Are workforce opportunities in Maryland improving?
These important questions and many more were answered at the Central Maryland Chamber’s Annual Economic Forecast on Oct. 30.
Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard served as a keynote speaker at the Economic Forecast, which serves as a regional forum committed to promoting a healthy economic environment in the communities surrounding Fort Meade.
Rickard joined an impressive roster of community and business leaders speaking at the forum including Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. John Sarbanes, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and J.D. Foster, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
From tax reform to international trade negotiations, Van Hollen and Sarbanes discussed current issues being considered by Congress and the potential economic impacts on Maryland.
They were followed by Foster, who indicated that though there could be some notable business failures, he expected the economy not to slow down over the near term.
Foster noted that the country was still in the middle of one of the longest economic expansions in its history.
In his speech, Rickard discussed the role and impact of Fort Meade on the regional economy. As the largest economic engine in Maryland, Fort Meade plays a vital role in the economic health of the state and its local communities.
Rickard emphasized that Fort Meade is home to U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Media Activity and many other important tenants and partners that make the installation a national platform for intelligence, information and cyber operations.
Rickard’s talk helped the 200 forum attendees develop an appreciation for the size and reach of the installation. Most importantly, his remarks made it clear that Fort Meade and its surrounding communities need to remain active partners to maintain a high quality of life both on and off post.
“I learned that the local jurisdictions and Fort Meade have an important symbiotic relationship,” one attendee said. “I began to realize that our strong business environment was due in large part to Fort Meade and the installation’s ability to draw on a highly skilled workforce, which was due in large part to the surrounding jurisdictions having a high quality of life.”
Rickard capped the event by encouraging business leaders to work with the schools and students on Fort Meade to make sure we are all cultivating a talent pipeline so essential to a healthy business environment.