The agricultural economy supporting the farms of Carroll County required decades of hard work to build, eventually generating enormous prosperity for multiple generations of Carroll families.
A similar economic development process is beginning again in our community, but this time around the emergence of a data-driven, 21st-century economy. The City of Westminster just completed the construction of the basic infrastructure of that economy, the Westminster Fiber Network, delivering affordable gigabit services through the innovative public-private partnership with Ting.
But creating infrastructure is not enough. What if you built roads, but there were no cars to drive on them? Sure, you could ride horses or bicycles, but think of all the unused potential of those roads. To unleash that potential, you need more advanced forms of transportation, manufacturing and maintenance, and ways to teach people how operate those vehicles. Then you start seeing the benefit of the investment in roads, and all the other kinds of economic activity that in turn creates.
This is where the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, or MAGIC, comes in.
MAGIC’s mission is to build a tech ecosystem that creates and nurtures talent, entrepreneurship, and tech businesses, elevating the Westminster Gigabit Community to lead the Mid-Atlantic region. MAGIC activities include: tech experiences, focusing on workforce development by imparting market-ready technology skills; tech innovation, creating projects to develop, deploy, and highlight new technologies in our community, especially those enabled by community broadband; and tech incubation, helping aspiring entrepreneurs transfer their tech ideas from imagination to paper to an actual business.
An example of MAGIC’s workforce development efforts are the Capture the Flag cybersecurity competitions, an entry-level event for anyone interested in a cybersecurity career. Teams now compete across the planet, from Ecuador to the U.S. to Estonia, exposing students to international cyber expertise.
The MAGIC Healthy Smart Home project is an example of a tech innovation project that develops, researches and demonstrates “Internet of Things” technology in a residential setting to create new ways to keep residents healthy and out of the hospital. The future of health care is community-based and data-driven, and MAGIC is helping create the solutions to realize that future.
Tech incubation aims to create new tech businesses and accelerate existing ones.
All MAGIC programs and projects are possible due to the support of the City of Westminster and the hard work of an army of volunteers, as well as collaboration with numerous community partners. MAGIC is also supported by generous donations from Hill Development Group and many other private donors.
Although MAGIC operates in a very long time frame of generational change, we’re already seeing early signs of success: students entering tech jobs they otherwise would never have considered, tech innovators looking at our community in a different way, and local investors exploring ways to create jobs, companies and wealth. These all reflect the positive economic changes MAGIC seeks to initiate, promote and accelerate.
Learn more by visiting www.magicinc.org.
Amy Rupp is the executive director of MAGIC. Robert Wack serves on the MAGIC Board of Directors.