Townsley and Rupp: Technological opportunities for the continued economic health of Carroll

Recently, the Carroll County Long Term Advisory Council (LTAC) briefed the Board of County Commissioners on the results of 18 months of research and discussion, summarized in a group of recommendations about the future of our community. 

According to LTAC Chair Bruce Holstein, “Technology is the overarching theme.” As the leaders of the two county nonprofit organizations focused on technology, we couldn’t agree more! Technology figures prominently in the recommendations of almost all the cluster reports, which isn’t surprising at the end of the second decade of the 21st century.


What is surprising are the challenges and opportunities technology presents for the continued economic health of Carroll County. That’s where our two organizations come in.

The Carroll Technology Council (CTC) was established in 2001 as a subcommittee of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and grew into an independent nonprofit in 2004. For the last 18 years the CTC has worked to fulfill its mission of providing technology leadership, information, and resources to develop members’ businesses, build strong community partnerships, and advance technology in Carroll County.

The Tech Council is first and foremost a member organization comprised of local technology-related businesses working closely with the community and county. Members are supported through educational meetings, networking events and promotional activities. CTC leaders serve on taskforces and legislative committees with the goal of moving Carroll County forward as a tech-savvy community. By partnering with local schools, colleges, and government, CTC helps to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that trains, hires and retains our local tech talent.

Additionally, CTC bridges the digital divide through the TechKids/TechWorks programs by donating computers to needy students, job seekers, and nonprofits in the county — over 2,900 donated computers to date. CTC also fosters an interest in technology in our local youth through sponsorships of area robotics clubs and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camps.

The Tech Council is an integral community partner in providing leadership and resources to spur Carroll’s technological growth.

The Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, or MAGIC, was founded in 2016 as a result of planning by the City of Westminster to fully realize the economic development potential of the Westminster Fiber Network. Very quickly it became clear that MAGIC’s mission was much broader than just Westminster, given the interconnectedness of our economy with the larger region. 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.

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MAGIC focuses on nurturing the entrepreneurs, technologies and start-ups that will become future members of the Carroll Technology Council, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, and our local economy. MAGIC’s Tech Experiences, like cybersecurity competitions, coding hackathons, and computer projects develop student skills and interests as part of a larger workforce development strategy, building a pool of potential employees for tech companies in our community. Ideally, some of those students will become entrepreneurs and go on to start their own companies here. Tech Innovation projects aim to attract, demonstrate and develop cutting edge technology in our community, to give residents opportunities for further learning, as well as attract and grow tech companies locally. 

The MAGIC Healthy Smart Home project, and MainStAR, which brings local history to life on Main Street using augmented reality, are examples. Together, the Carroll Technology Council and MAGIC create a pipeline for developing, nurturing, supporting, and accelerating tech entrepreneurs and companies in Carroll County, as well as serving as educational and promotional resources for residents and businesses wishing to learn about, develop, or promote new ideas and technology. Continued growth and success of both our organizations will ensure our community and economy keep pace with the ever-changing global economy, providing jobs and prosperity for many decades to come.

Kati Townsley is the executive director of the Carroll Technology Council. Reach her at kati@carrolltechcouncil.org.

Amy Rupp is the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, or MAGIC. Reach her at arupp@magicinc.org.