Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Work Here. Live Here.

Frederick, MD (population 52,767) is strategically located in western MD, equidistant from Baltimore and Washington, DC. Forty percent of the workforce drives each day the 50 miles to work in those two cities. When I left Frederick at 4:30 am to catch a plane home, I was amazed at the number of commuters already on the road to work. The Chamber’s motto of, “Work here, live here,” seems very appropriate.

Frederick County is a strong agricultural county with dairy farms predominating. The rolling hills of the county are the setting for Camp David, which has been a presidential retreat for over 60 years. The Fort Detrick complex in Frederick is a Bio Medical, National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and numerous other governmental activities hubs, having over 7,000 employees. The Fort has spawned a number of businesses and economic diversity in the town. The establishment of a business incubator at Hood College two years ago, already has a number of biotech and IT start-ups.

Frederick’s downtown is also a masterpiece, with a historical tradition and bustling pace. It is the type of place that creates a certain “sense of place” that could become a huge asset as Frederick tries to recruit their commuters back home to the town.

The town is developing a $10 million project along their Carroll Creek area on the east side of the downtown. The project has charged the private sector to begin investing $150 million into 120 condos, 30,000 sf of retail and 100,000 sf of offices. A third parking deck, will raise to 2,100 the number of parking spaces in parking decks in the downtown. Having adequate parking in the downtown area is often the Achilles Heel of many towns.

Frederick was a very impressive community. The activity taking place convinced me that “Work here. Live here,” is a trend of the future.