Almost a decade ago, when Ryan Frederic was looking to relocate his aerospace security, research and simulation business, he landed upon Howard County.
"This was the place," he said. He decided to move his company, Applied Defense Solutions, from West Chester, Pa., to Maple Lawn; and then, five years later, to its current headquarters across from The Mall in Columbia.
Frederic said he felt welcomed right away.
County Executive Ken Ulman "was very responsive," he said. "We didn't even have all our furniture in the [Maple Lawn] office yet and he stopped by."
Now, the Glenwood Democrat wants to join the sphere of public service. Frederic has filed to run for a state Senate seat in western Howard's District 9, currently held by state Sen. Allan Kittleman, who is running for Howard County executive.
Frederic will have a primary opponent in Daniel Medinger, an Ellicott City businessman who announced his Senate campaign in August. The winner of that election will face Republican Gail Bates, who is currently a District 9A delegate.
Though he filed on the very last day possible, Frederic said he'd been mulling a run for the past year. He said he was attracted by the possibility of making firm progress at the local level.
"I don't feel like it's sort of a gridlock, super politics that you get down [on Capitol Hill]] – you can be a progressive and do some interesting things up here," he said.
"A lot of people encouraged me to get into this race," he added.
For Frederic, 37, focusing on the state's economic climate is a natural priority.
"I'm a business owner and I know economic opportunity is incredibly important," he said. "There's a perception – I think it's an unfair perception – that Maryland's an unfriendly business state."
Frederic, who owns a Burtonsville-based physical therapy practice and a Virginia water management company in addition to Applied Defense Solutions, said part of the state's problem was one of branding; while Maryland might have higher taxes than Virginia, he said, the state also can boast an enviable quality of life.
"If you're simply going to look down a list at where's the absolute cheapest tax rate, [Virginia] is where you're going to go, but we have the advantage of proximity," he said. "There's traffic issues that need to be worked out, there's a quality-of-life message that needs to be sent, there's infrastructure that needs to be built out."
Frederic pointed to the recently completed intercounty broadband network, a system of fiber optic cables connecting counties throughout the state via Internet as an example of the measures the state can take to attract businesses. As a member of the county's cyber commission, he worked on developing that project.
But he said the state could look at fine-tuning its regulatory measures.
"I think we need to take a much more science-based approach," he said, using the example of total maximum daily load limits for the Chesapeake Bay. While he stressed the importance of such limits, he said they could be distributed among businesses differently based on output. "What's most important is we never put too much stuff in the Bay. It doesn't really matter how we get there."
Education is also a critical part of the equation in making the state attractive to new business, Frederic said.
"I hire engineers who are well educated," he said. "They're also very interested in making sure their children are well educated. …We have a great system, and I think there's a lot of opportunity to make it better."
Frederic cited public safety as his third focus. Of particular importance to him, he said, is reducing domestic violence.
Frederic said he hoped voters from the traditionally conservative District 9 would be open to his ideas.
"I'm pragmatic fiscally," he said. "I've started businesses, I know what it means to be efficient and effective and hold people accountable. I'm not conservative, but I believe in good government, and I think there's a lot of opportunity to grow business. And I think that message will resonate with people all over the county."