The big federal installations at Fort Meade that house U.S. cybersecurity activity are a focal point in the state. Yet the area surrounding the base is also seeing influence from the growing industry.
Real estate company COPT offers two data points. The Columbia-based outfit reports that about one-third of its 8.1 million square foot office portfolio in the state is leased to cybersecurity tenants. And since U.S. Cyber Command began operating at Fort Meade in 2011, it’s leased 2.5 million square feet to cybersecurity companies.
Some of that is concentrated around Columbia Gateway Drive, where two more companies recently signed on. iNovex and Red Alpha are each moving their headquarters this fall from other parts of the area to a recently-reopened building at 6950 Columbia Gateway Drive.
iNovex, an IT firm specializing in software development and data integrations for cyber missions, is moving from Hanover into 11,900 square feet of space. This includes an area of the building called the Foundry, which is a center for “knowledge engineering research.”
Red Alpha, which focuses on cyber intelligence and advanced data science, is also moving into the building. Currently based in Annapolis Junction, it’ll take 6,200 square feet of space.
“Given its proximity to Fort Meade, direct access to I-95, and the rich base of retail, health, and entertainment amenities that surround it, Columbia Gateway continues to be a preferred location for cybersecurity and advanced technology companies,” Paul R. Adkins, COPT’s executive VP and COO, said in a statement.
The company is also adding amenities inside the offices. These moves come after COPT completed a year-long redevelopment of the building that was designed to open up more communal areas. Now, the ground floor has conference and lounge space, as well as a patio and garden outside. Plus, there’s a 2,500-square-foot workout area, and Nitro Cold Brew on tap. It sounds like the coworking setting we’re finding in cities, even as it’s located in an office park.
That’s also found in other buildings, where COPT rolled out a flexible work environment concept called CIRQL that provides similar amenities. In a building with that layout at 7134 Columbia Gateway Drive, COPT said Analysis, Computing and Engineering Solutions, (ACES) Inc. and Sealing Technologies have expanded by 57 percent in recent weeks. In another building at 7061 Columbia Gateway, COPT added that Freedom Consulting Group took about 25,000 square feet.
Home to Oracle and a host of corporate firms, Columbia Gateway is an area where we’re seeing some new tech growth recently. County officials intrigued us with plans to bring an “innovation district” model that’s normally found in cities to the 30-year-old suburban office park.
The mix of new and established that are part of that recipe is starting to show up. Illustrating the connection to Fort Meade even further, DreamPort opened on Columbia Gateway Drive to central place for leaders from U.S. Cyber Command, academia and the business community to work together on new efforts. MasterPeace Solutions also spins new companies from its accelerator out of offices there, and in the last year we’ve seen Howard County’s new innovation center begin to take shape nearby, and Zentail move into new space.
With the concentration of companies, the Brookings Institution noted that Columbia Gateway is primed for “placemaking” efforts to have an impact.-30-