It was about nine months ago, during Howard County's Business Appreciation Week, that County Executive Ken Ulman learned Columbia-based AirPatrol Corporation was thinking about relocating.

Ulman's reaction was immediate, said Guy Levy-Yurista, chief technology officer for AirPatrol. Officials said the county executive worked with the Howard County Economic Development Authority to present options and expressed his desire to keep the firm in county.

"Ken Ulman truly stepped forward," Levy-Yurista said. "I had space in Bethesda and a plan B in Tysons Corner. ... Howard County fought for us."

On Thursday, Ulman took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at AirPatrol's new headquarters in Maple Lawn. The cybersecurity firm's new 5,200-square-foot office space is substantially bigger than the company's previous space on Broken Land Parkway in Columbia, and is also brighter and more secure, Levy-Yurista said.

"I really loved this place and space," Levy-Yurista said. "Being in Howard County is amazing. I was not really aware of that until I started looking around Maryland and Virginia."

Cleve Adams, CEO of AirPatrol, told those gathered for the ceremony that there were two main reasons AirPatrol decided to remain in the county. "We chose Howard County not only because of its location, but because of its hospitality," he said.

During the ceremony AirPatrol executives demonstrated ZoneDefense, the company's location-based system that's designed to monitor and manage smartphones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices.

The ceremony came just weeks before AirPatrol is scheduled to complete a merger with Sysorex Global Holdings of Santa Clara, Calif. The merger will expand AirPatrol's business from primarily the federal government to the community, retail and health care entities. County officials also noted it will give Howard ties to another global firm in the cyber sector with roots in Silicon Valley.

"We expect the synergy between AirPatrol and our other companies to strengthen Sysorex's industry position as a technology developer and provider," said Sysorex CEO Nadir Ali. He said the addition of AirPatrol to Sysorex will integrate "three of the highest growth sectors in technology: big data, cyber security and mobile computing."

Under the merger agreement, AirPatrol will become a subsidiary of Sysorex but retain its management and operations in Howard County. The merger is expected to be completed in mid-March.

County Council member Courtney Watson said she was "thrilled that AirPatrol decided to stay here and grow here in Howard County."

At the ceremony, Ulman thanked the company for "investing in Howard County, for investing in Maryland and for creating jobs in Maryland."

Ulman, a Democrat who is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Anthony G. Brown, also stressed the importance of events such as Business Appreciation Week. He said during the week, he and representatives of the county visit 100 businesses to touch base with and get a sense of the county's business climate.

"This is an example of why it is important to do business appreciation week," Ulman said. "It is important for us to reach out proactively."