Tech Jobs Jump –

July 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

a boom in professional, scientific and technical service jobs has made Frederick County the I-270 technology corridor’s “northern anchor,” the city’s economic development director said. Montgomery County saw a 3 percent decrease of those workers from 2005 to 2010, but Frederick County increased its comparable workforce by 24 percent, according to newly released data from the Census Bureau. Employers created 1,850 jobs over five years in that category with an average wage that grew from $50,000 to $60,000. the category went from seventh in total jobs to third in the county, and third in annual payroll to first. Even more impressive is Frederick County’s gain in professional, scientific and technical service jobs from 2008 to 2010. the county experienced a total turnaround, going from a five-year low of 6,555 jobs to a high of 9,486, an increase of nearly 3,000 jobs. “Frederick has over the years evolved to become the northern anchor of the I-270 technology corridor,” said Richard Griffin, director of economic development for the City of Frederick. “That has not always been the case. Frederick was for a long time considered the gateway to the west and not part of the Washington metro area.” the increase in jobs came from several sectors in the broad category, including biotechnology research, computer systems design and engineering services. Local officials hope they can expand these sectors further through new development and catalytic programs such as the Frederick Innovative Technology Center inc., which was created in partnership with city, county and state governments and Fort Detrick. “We’re not a farming community anymore,” said Michael Dailey, center director. “We think that innovative technology is basically the source of innovation and entrepreneurship.” the center is a not-for-profit incubator that houses 35 offices and 16 laboratories that are available to companies by lease. Dailey said that it has helped to create about 240 jobs and returned more to local governments in increased tax revenue than the governments spent on it. Beyond giving companies their start, one of the most important aspects of the Innovative Technology Center has been to create a snowball effect among biotechnology employers. the more biotechnology in an area, the more alluring that area becomes, because the companies constantly buy goods and services from one another. Thomas Blake, co-principal of Meridian BioGroup, an incubator-based business, said he located in Frederick because his clients were in the area. his business helps biotechnology companies ensure quality manufacturing by verifying they’re compliant with federal regulations. Blake said because biotechnology businesses must invest so much money in capital expenditures over at least a decade to bring a product to market, they’re a relatively stable source of employment during recessions. “That employee cost relative to the cost of the facility and the equipment is minuscule in comparison,” he said. he said Frederick also made a lot of sense to locate in because of its proximity to larger metro areas. “My perception is that perhaps it’s less expensive to locate here than in Montgomery, but it’s still geographically close to the FDA,” he said. “There’s still a geographic link to these academic and government institutions that start-ups have a relationship with.” Blake also said that he enjoyed the quality of life and easy commutes that Frederick had to offer. he isn’t the only business owner to draw that conclusion, and local officials have taken notice. They hope to usedowntown Frederick to bring people into the county and city. “Those are well-educated, well-compensated employees working for technology companies,” Griffin said. “They want to be near coffee, they want to be near beer, they want to be near activities.” Griffin said young entrepreneurs are increasingly attracted to active downtowns like Frederick’s. “Frederick offers a different atmosphere and a different quality of life that the workforce and businesses really like,” he said. “It’s all kind of blended together in a unique environment. the history and technology have blended together.” Carrie Delente, co-owner of Enforme Interactive, a web application development and design company based in a warehouse on North Market Street, said her location in Frederick was all about downtown. “Being in technology is having something unique and not just being shoved into a normal office environment,” she said. “It helps us in this industry to be surrounded by unique environments.” She said on top of that, she couldn’t stand the commute in Silver Spring and Frederick seemed like a better place to raise a family. Enforme Interactive is one of many technology companies to be located downtown. of the 88 Frederick County information technology and tech related companies, 41 are within city limits, according to a September 2011 City of Frederick economic development document. “It’s affordable, it’s not congested, there are great restaurants and a lot of activities,” Dailey said. “It’s a nice lifestyle.” Delente said because her business is located downtown, about 75 percent of her employees live in the county. “Some have even moved downtown since we’re here,” she said. Griffin said he hopes technology-based entrepreneurs will attract more young, well-paid professionals into the city who will boost other industries by buying goods and services. but Anne Lipman, president and CEO of Altek Information Technology inc., a web design company specializing in health care, said while she loves downtown Frederick, the state’s tax structure could discourage small businesses from moving in. “I did the drive down 270, and I never want to drive down 270 again,” she said. “We choose to be in Maryland because we live in Maryland, but it’s much less expensive to work out of Northern Virginia.” the Maryland tax increase on six-figure salaries would affect many small businesses and further shift interest toward Virginia, she said. Looking forward, Griffin said the office of economic development hopes to expand technology-based businesses as well as develop other sectors of the economy. Overall, Frederick has been a job-growth city since the revitalization of downtown, and he hopes that it’ll stay that way, despite some turns for the worse over the years. “We reach out and touch those 3,500 businesses in the city as much as possible to learn about their issues,” he said. “Our goal is to keep and grow that 3,500.”

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