In the dog-eat-dog world of economic development, three Maryland counties have called a truce.
Harford, Baltimore and Cecil counties, banding together to get the most bang out the national military restructuring, are to announce today that they will jointly market themselves as the "Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor."
The three counties are coordinating efforts so contractors, military families and others looking for information can learn about the region - from schools to housing to office availability - by calling any one of the counties.
The counties have swapped information and promised to direct prospects to the others when that's what would be best. They've also put together a brochure promoting the area's economic resources and quality of life.
How they'll market the region is still being hammered out. The initiative was to be unveiled at a news conference at the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center in Aberdeen.
Harford officials now estimate that 30,000 to 35,000 government, contractor and service jobs will come to Aberdeen Proving Ground and surrounding areas within four to six years.
That's substantially more than the original projections for the base realignment and closure process, known as BRAC. And local leaders say they need to manage the influx rather than fight over pieces of the pie.
"It's a big job. This is no time to get terribly parochial or terribly greedy," said Vernon J. Thompson, Cecil County's director of economic development. "We could all go about this process individually, but ... I think we're choosing to do the better thing."
Harford County Executive David R. Craig, a Republican, said the collaboration grew out of discussions at Maryland Association of Counties meetings. Democrats James T. Smith Jr., Baltimore County's executive, and Nelson K. Bolender, president of the Cecil County commissioners, sit on the association board with Craig.
"To maximize that advantage for the entire region, we have to pull our resources together," Smith said. "We truly all benefit from economic growth in the region."
The effort does not include Anne Arundel, home of Fort Meade, which is ground zero for the rest of the Baltimore area's BRAC gains. About 20,000 to 25,000 new jobs are expected at the base and in the area.
Craig and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens said they agreed that the distance between Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade would make collaborative marketing trickier - and commuting unlikely.
Economic development officials throughout the Baltimore region are planning to work together on transportation and other common infrastructure needs, however.
Growth related to Aberdeen Proving Ground will likely center in Harford because the post stretches across the southern part of the county, but the other Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor participants think they have something to offer, too.
Baltimore County, a longer-established employment center, has existing office and industrial space. Cecil has raw land. And proving ground workers live in all three counties.
The tri-county marketing effort isn't aimed at employers alone. Local leaders are hoping to draw people, too - particularly those already holding the jobs that will be moving to Aberdeen from Fort Monmouth, N.J., and elsewhere. Most of the 8,200 new on-post jobs coming to Aberdeen are civilian.
With the technical expertise and security clearances required, it's "unrealistic" to think that Maryland residents could fill all those jobs, Thompson said. Such workers are already in high demand.
Craig said the counties are still deciding how to best sell people on the area, but he thinks housing could be a draw. Median resale prices for single-family homes in the metropolitan area that includes Fort Monmouth - New York, including Long Island, and northern New Jersey - topped $460,000 last summer, according to the latest numbers from the National Association of Realtors. The median price in the Baltimore area at that point was $280,000.