St Mary's County is home to an economic hotspot at the Regional Airport. To fuel the recent trend, the County is designating the area as an "Innovation District" and creating a Master Plan to guide future development and enhancements.

We have a unique opportunity to help guide and leverage the development of the area in and around the regional airport to promote research, foster new technology, boost new and expanding business enterprises, and encourage resource sharing and idea exchange through a planned growth effort that includes increased connectivity to existing industry and adjoining neighborhoods and retail space.

Innovation District

What is it?

Innovation Districts are an economic development tool based on the concept that entrepreneurship and innovation can be stimulated in environments that both satisfy space needs of companies in different life cycle stages and encourage employees to interact and exchange ideas in a mix of settings.

Innovation District Components:

  • Places to start and grow companies (incubators, accelerators, manufacturing, fabrication, assembly)
  • Places to invent/innovate (labs, workshops, maker-spaces, technical support)
  • Places to gather and exchange ideas
  • Circulation routes for various modes (walking/biking/auto/transit)
  • Places to live
  • Places to eat, shop, get personal services, drink, lodging
  • Anchor companies
  • Places to learn
Innovation Ecosystem Venn Diagram. Including Physical Assets, Economic Assets, and Networking Assets.

Why do this?

The growth of a designated Innovation District facilitates:

  • Employment Opportunities — the ability to generate more accessible good jobs
  • Upskilling Residents — helps to provide educational opportunities through Higher Education and Research programs
  • Economic Growth — activity in Research and Development in Tech & Creative sectors will contribute to economic growth by helping generate revenue
  • A Sense of Place & Shared Assets — define and implement a vision for inclusive growth

The Process

St Mary's Economic Development has enlisted the expertise of Torti Gallas+ Partners - one of the leading planning and architectural firms that is headquartered in Silver Springs Maryland - in the development of an Innovation Distract Master Plan.

Phase 1

In April, Torti Gallas began gathering data and performing research on the Regional Airport area. They reviewed zoning plans, transportation plans, airport plans, demographic data, parcel ownership data, environmental constraints and other information to become fully informed about the region. During this research phase, the consultants had several conversations with County staff to get a better picture of the existing site parameters and the desire to designate the airport as the Airport Innovation District.

Beginning in mid-May, Torti Gallas came to St. Mary’s County and spent three days with key stakeholders. These small group and one-on-one sessions provided an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute their input and perspectives on the development of an innovation district. Key stakeholders included property owners, anchor companies at the airport, and leadership from the institutions at the airport.

A widely promoted community meeting was held June 25th that was attended by approximately 65 participants representing a cross section of industry, academia, government and community participants for small group discussion sessions on what the district could include now and in the future.

Phase 2

  • On Site Work Session – August
  • Develop Preferred Illustrative Plan, Renderings, Draft Plan/Report, Transportation

Phase 3

  • Presentation to Stakeholders – September
  • Revision/Final Draft Plan – October
  • Presentation to County Commissioners – Late week of October
Links to presentations

Questions?? Comments??

We'd like to hear from YOU!

Please tells us your hopes or any ideas on opportunities for the area by calling Dept of Economic Development 301-475-4200 or email us at