Southern Maryland Officials Trek to Huntsville to View Economic Diversification Efforts

In an effort to find out how Huntsville has lowered the reliance of it economy on the Redstone Arsenal and defense contracting, a delegation of government and business representatives from St. Mary’s County, Md., last month visited several sites in the city along with the northern Alabama installation.

“Huntsville’s economy has some similarities to St. Mary’s in that both have a large military installation anchoring their economy,” said Chris Kaselemis, director of economic development for St. Mary’s County, home of Naval Air Station Patuxent River. “However, the Huntsville economy is also powered by private sector dollars, with a nearly 50/50 split between government jobs and private sector jobs,” Kaselemis told the BayNet.

In addition to the defense and aerospace industries, Huntsville has targeted life sciences, information technology and advanced manufacturing. Huntsville relies on incentives to attract new businesses, and fast-track permitting to promote development, the delegation learned.

Easing the permitting process would be “a big deal,” said St. Mary’s Commissioner Tom Jarboe. The county also should consider using tax abatements to lure companies, Jarboe added.

“It was a power-packed tour — both informative and experiential. I look forward to the opportunities for implementation in St. Mary’s County,” said County Administrator Rebecca Bridgett.

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