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Economic Development officials secure business deals for county on trade mission

November 06, 2017

Howard County Economic Development officials and County Executive Allan H. Kittleman wrapped up a successful trade mission to Europe on Friday, securing another deal by reaching an agreement with Fraunhofer, headquartered in Munich, Germany.

Fraunhofer, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization, will work with the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) to open a Fraunhofer USA office in Howard County. Fraunhofer specializes in the development of technology for a variety of industries, including communications, health and environment, production and supply of services, mobility and transportation, energy, and security.

“The result of this trade mission is capital investment, jobs and innovative projects for Howard County, which will make our economy even stronger. To remain competitive, we must think globally to successfully attract these new technologies,” Kittleman said. “In addition to the agreements resulting from our visit, this trip gave us the opportunity for face-to-face relationship building and allowed us to talk about Howard County’s many strengths as a home for new business and business expansion.”

“Fraunhofer’s charter is to get cutting edge technology into the hands of companies so they can be more successful. Working with Howard County’s rich and diverse technology ecosystem is an ideal way for us to meet our goals,” said Dr. Adam Porter, Executive Director of the Fraunhofer USA Center for Experimental Software Engineering.

HCEDA’s trade and investment trip began in Verona, Italy with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BTS Bioenergy to establish its North American headquarters and two bio-digestion facilities in Howard County. These facilities will result in up to a $40 million investment and 20 new jobs for Howard County. BTS Bioenergy is looking at suitable industrial sites in the county for their facilities.

“Having a presence of both Bioenergy and Fraunhofer in Howard County will provide our businesses with access to new partnerships, technology and opportunities,” Kittleman said.

During the trade mission, HCEDA officials also participated in meetings in Vienna, Austria with local industry experts in the cyber and tech fields. As part of these meetings the delegation met with both the Vienna Business Agency and the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) to familiarize one another with the Howard County and Austrian business eco-systems and to identify ways to engage in mutual collaboration between them. The delegation connected with an additional seven businesses and associations to pursue international partnerships and investment in Howard County.

“Howard County is home to a diverse and well-educated talent pool,” said Lawrence Twele, CEO of the HCEDA. “Through trade missions like this, we can better connect business leaders to their counterparts overseas, creating stronger bonds and a deeper pool of resources for our businesses. Having firms like Fraunhofer and BTS Bioenergy in the county will open doors for local firms to begin partnering directly with these European companies, helping them secure additional international investments.”

In addition to Kittleman and Twele, the HCEDA delegation included Vernon Thompson, HCEDA Executive Vice President; Patrick Wynn, HCEDA’s Vice President of Cyber Business Development; Maria Angelica Vargas, HCEDA’s Director of International Business Development; and Mark DeLuca, Chief of the Howard County Bureau of Environmental Services. The delegation was joined by representatives from the Maryland Environmental Service and representatives from the private sector.

The HCEDA, a quasi-public agency that is funded in part by private sector investment, paid for all fees and expenses for the HCEDA delegation, with county government incurring no cost. Economy class was selected for all travel options. Estimated costs for the HCEDA delegation is $22,000.