The notion of Baltimore-Washington as a single regional market is becoming more and more of an economic reality. Many businesses are eager to capitalize on the proximity of the two diverse metropolitan areas and the advantages each brings to commercial enterprise. Pailen-Johnson Associates is one.
In October, the decade-old professional services firm moved its business out of northern Virginia and into Rockville, and opened a new manufacturing division in the Raleigh Center on Wicomico Street in South Baltimore. The reason for the move was simple, according to Pailen-Johnson chairman and CEO William Pailen.
As a small, minority-owned company, Pailen-Johnson received a loan from the Maryland Small Business Development Finance Authority, which helped the company finance a contract it had recently won. Baltimore offered support that enabled the company to expand its operation in the manufacturing arena by offering the firm a low-cost facility under the city's incubator program.
The $2 million company employs a professional staff of 24 who provide scientific, technical and engineering services to the government and the private sector. In Baltimore, PJA employs six assemblers in its new manufacturing division.
The rise of Pailen-Johnson from professional services company to manufacturer resulted from the 1987 Security Act, which requires all federal agencies to identify government computer systems that contain sensitive information and to develop plans to safeguard the systems.
The expansion into Baltimore gives Pailen-Johnson Associates the space to manufacture a computer security device it designed for use in the government. The device, called LEAD -- an acronym for Low-Cost Encryption Authentication Device -- is billed as "low-cost security that pays high dividends."
LEAD is designed to do fit the government's specifications: to prevent hackers and viruses from invading computers.
In addition to its work in computer security systems, PJA renders consultant services to the air traffic control industry, conducts risk analysis, and provides management support, primarily in the technical and engineering area.
The launching of Pailen-Johnson Associates came after Mr. Pailen failed at several attempts to start a business.
"I tried a number of times to start a business, but didn't get off the ground," said the 55-year-old engineer.