New Initiative Aims to Boost Anne Arundel Cybersecurity Businesses

Citing a desire to support local cybersecurity enterprises, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. has announced a new initiative that seeks to connect those businesses with financing and mentorship.

According to The Capital Gazette,

Announcement of the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox came two days before another county-sponsored business boosting program, the Chesapeake Innovation Center in Odenton, closed its doors.

County Executive Steve Schuh decided in March to defund the CIC, which operated as a business incubator for 14 years, in order to redirect money to more tax and fee cuts. After several County Council members protested the move, his administration said it was looking at other ways to assist the cybersecurity industry — a source of growth particularly in the western county, which is home to the National Security Agency’s headquarters at Fort George G. Meade.

In a statement announcing the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox initiative, Schuh said the new program would “ensure the defense and cyber industries continue to fuel the economic engine of West County.”

His spokesman, Owen McEvoy, said the toolbox is one of potentially several new ideas intended to fill the gap after the shuttering of the incubator.

“It’s safe to say that when we announced the closure of the incubator, we were looking for other options to support businesses in west county,” McEvoy said. “The cyber industry is an economic powerhouse — we want to make sure those jobs and those businesses feel welcome here.”

The Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox is geared toward Anne Arundel-based companies with fewer than 100 employees and a gross revenue of less than $5 million.

Participants in the program can apply for loans of $50,000 to $250,000 through the Next Stage Tech Fund, which offers zero-percent interest and a flexible repayment schedule, depending on a company’s expected cash flow.

The loans can be used for “anything that could directly contribute to a company’s growth,” from buying equipment to leasing space to paying employees, said Sarah Purdum, the program’s manager. Purdum, who formerly worked as the manager for UMBC Research Park’s cyber incubator, was hired in May.

Purdum said the toolbox, which is supported by a $1.2 million investment from Economic Development, is a new approach to helping cyber companies in the area. Economic Development is a quasi-private county agency.

“It’s a better way to put resources directly into the pockets of these companies and offer a tangible benefit,” Purdum said.

With more than 700 cyber tech companies in the county, “we really try hard to touch them at some point in their growth stage,” Purdum added, “and this toolbox is a great way for us to reach out and give kind of a hard-line effort in helping the cyber sector in the region.”

The program will also connect businesses with the Economic Development workforce training program, which offers grants of up to $1,000 per employee trained, as well as free expert consultations on topics such as federal contracting, patents and marketing.

Expanding Maryland’s tech industry will be discussed at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session “Rounding Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring Needs .” The session will be held from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, Thursday, August 17, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: