Baltimore County + Towson University: An Economic Development Partnership Born in Patience, Persistence, and Pragmatism

Frank Bonsal III
Oct 17, 2017 · 3 min read
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According to the Cambridge Dictionary, economic development is the process in which an economy grows or changes and becomes more advanced, especially when both economic and social conditions are improved. This process pertains to country, state, metro, county or village. Although western Baltimore County’s research park, bwtech@UMBC, had been a thriving success in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was no central Baltimore County business incubator, no innovation hub pegged to the Towson metro.

The greatest job producer and economic engine of any is the creation of new ventures. Considering that the central Baltimore County corridor contains Greater Baltimore’s largest public university and the seat of Baltimore County government, it seems an error of omission that there was no formal catalyst at the turn of the Millennium to induce business, venture creation, jobs, capital, and economies.

Dyan Brasington, former Vice President of Towson University’s Division of Innovation and Applied Research, had come to Towson in 2004 to induce economic development. Brasington, current Vice President and TU Chief Economist Daraius Irani, PhD, other TU leaders, and Baltimore County began discussions in 2006 that led to a burgeoning economic development partnership and the launch of the Towson Global Business Incubator in April 2007.

“Towson University has long worked to strengthen ties between the work being done on campus and what’s being done in our surrounding communities. Since launching, TU Incubator has been a key component in creating synergies between TU and our partners in Baltimore County.”

In 2014, Towson Global became TU Incubator.

Time and Impact

Business incubation and venture creation take time. In ten year’s time, one would hope to see a return on one’s investment. The infographic below imparts TU Incubator’s Ten Year Impact from this economic development partnership. With a more recent focus on education innovation and a sincere support system for entrepreneurs, TU Incubator, moreover university’s and county’s return and reputation are heading along a positive trend line. What’s not mentioned below is the fact that TU Incubator supports the largest cluster of edtech companies in Maryland and perhaps the DMV. TU Incubator is also very focused on support of the companies and founders, not just providing them a place to call home. This is what Towson University stands for.

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Economic impact calculations by the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University.

The takeaway here is that the cost of creating one job is approximately $3,000. Per the above image, the ultimate economic yield on the ten year journey is $150 million. That’s a good outcome, imparts Will Anderson, Director of Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development, and we are just getting started.

“We look for innovation hubs to support so that we might induce a multiplier effect on the local economy. ”

Venture creation is hard work with small increments of gratification along the way. It takes patience. It requires persistence. My team and I are happy to do our part at Towson University and even happier to have the right partner driving strategic direction for long term, sustained impact in Greater Baltimore and beyond. #onward

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I am an edupreneur, edtech investor, and teacher-coach located in Baltimore, MD. As Towson University’s Director of Venture Creation, I help support Maryland’s largest cluster of edtech companies via TU Incubator and associated programs.

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