Anne Arundel County officials, worried about slow growth and empty offices around Baltimore-Washington International Airport, have decided that what the area needs is a new identity -- "The BWI Hub."
Along with the new moniker comes a $100,000 marketing campaign, announced yesterday by the county's Office of Economic Development. The campaign will attempt to enhance the area's name recognition and give it an edge against its competition -- Hunt Valley, the Interstate 270 corridor in Montgomery County and Tysons Corner, Va.
Since 1980, office space near BWI has mushroomed from 3 million square feet to 11 million square feet, but a business downturn and cutbacks on defense projects have left the area struggling to fill vacancies in mid-rise office buildings and in a nearly empty high-rise project, the One National Business Park.
County officials blame much of the trouble on image.
Research by the economic development office and Annapolis-based Crosby Communications, which created the new campaign, showed that many businessmen still perceive the commercial area as it was 20 years ago -- a center for warehouses, defense contractors and airport support services.
The campaign will employ advertisements, trade shows and direct mailings to project an image of a commercial center that serves a mix of businesses such as data processors, research and development firms and retailers.
Economic Development Director Sam Minnitte said that the new name was chosen because BWI had become difficult to promote as awhole, since it overlaps several communities, including Linthicum, Harmans and Jessup.
"The BWI Hub instantly denotes a place, a location," he said. "It's hard to explain to a prospect that even though Westinghouse has a Baltimore postal address, it is actually in Linthicum, adjacent to the BWI airport."
The campaign, the first on behalf of a single region within Anne Arundel County, will stress the area's proximity to two urban centers, an international airport and a major road network. It will focus on the area loosely bounded by Baltimore on the north, Glen Burnie on the east, Route 32 on the south and the Anne Arundel County line on the west.