Howard breaks ground at Columbia center intended to attract tech companies

A symbolic groundbreaking Wednesday at a Columbia office park marked the latest move to attract tech companies to Howard County.

The Innovation Center is intended to attract high-tech and innovative businesses to Howard County, County Executive Allan Kittleman said in a statement.

The center is expected to be a “full-service resource for local businesses and the entrepreneurship community” and will house a software data lab from MITRE Corporation, a nonprofit that runs federally-funded centers.

“I have put a priority on enabling the alignment of resources to best serve our community and I am excited that the Howard’s Economic Development Authority will be leading the charge in serving our business community,” Kittleman.

The county in 2016 announced plans to transform Columbia Gateway as a tech-hub and economic driver. The site employs 10,000 people and houses 300 businesses including Oracle, IntelliGenesis and Tenable Inc.

Howard last year tried courting Amazon’s second headquarters to a site near downtown Columbia. Howard failed to make it to the top 20.

DataTribe last week announced it would leave Fulton for Baltimore City’s Port Covington development alongside another Howard-based technology-focused finance firm.

Councilman Calvin Ball, a Democrat vying for county executive, in a statement swiped Kittleman, a Republican seeking re-election, by describing DataTribe’s move as “yet another sign that business owners don't see future economic growth under this administration.

“We need to cultivate an environment where companies like this are courted and valued,” Ball said.

Kittleman, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the company’s move.

The Innovation Center is set to open next spring.

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