The Fort Meade Community Covenant Council (CCC) is gearing up for a formal rededication and resigning of its pledge on June 15. Initially signed in 2011, membership in the CCC has grown as newly elected officials have joined its ranks.
Fort Meade Garrison Commander Col. Brian Foley remarked, the post has an “outstanding” support network in this area, and partnerships are strong, productive and innovative. Members of the CCC point out this cooperative atmosphere has been deepened by close relationships with present and past commanders, as each saw the value of working closely with the community.
The CCC is an active force, bringing together federal, state and local elected officials; regional business organizations, the state’s veterans affairs and economic development offices; local economic and workforce development; and the private sector to support the growing installation.
Foley frequently meets with the CCC members at its monthly meetings, detailing the state of the installation, opportunities and challenges ahead. Command and installation staff are actively involved in the wider regional community, and with the many organizations and institutions that make up the broader region.
Across many sections and all levels of the command team, Fort Meade has integrated the community into the post’s operation. From outfitting a soldiers/family assistance center on post to job fairs, transportation fairs and military support events, there is daily interaction between the fort and its supporting community.
At the recent U.S. Army Listening Session, for instance, the CCC provided a multi-faceted presentation about the importance of the fort. One of the next major efforts is the planning for the Fort Meade Centennial, which will be celebrated throughout 2017.
Fort Meade and the CCC are developing an impressive list of joint successes that include building a community playground, developing a community-wide communication plan and, most notably, securing upwards of $40 million from the state of Maryland and the federal government to tackle the installation’s top external transportation priority — the expansion of Route 175.
Individual state agencies, including the Maryland Department of Transportation, its State Highway Administration and others, are regularly involved in Fort Meade/state projects to support the installation. During the past year, for example, responding to the No. 1 transportation priority expressed by the fort, the Maryland Department of Transportation, with support from key groups, applied for and received a $10 million federal TIGER grant for a critical road project. A helicopter tour arranged by the installation for the state secretary of transportation to show the bottleneck clearly helped establish the need, spurring the state to move quickly and garner resources.
Not only is there support at the federal and state levels, multiple counties and local jurisdictions are partners, as well. A notable local partnership was a grey water agreement with adjacent Howard County. This multi-million-dollar, public-public partnership will save millions of gallons of grey water that otherwise would be dumped into the Patuxent River. Instead, the water will be used to service some of the installation’s (and nation’s) most critical infrastructure.
An example of one partnership with Anne Arundel County, home to Fort Meade, is the opening of county golf courses at a discounted rate to the military population. The deal was signed to assist with morale and recreational issues created when the on-post golf course was permanently closed to accommodate the development of U.S. Cyber Command.
The three founding organizations of the CCC — the Fort Meade Alliance, the BWI Business Partnership and the West County Chamber of Commerce — were recently joined by the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. Individually and together, these organizations and all members support the Fort Meade mission.
Earlier this year, briefings were held for state elected officials during the General Assembly in Annapolis, focusing on the value and needs of the state’s largest employer: Fort Meade. After a speech by Foley, economic development, the importance of the fort to the state’s economy, workforce efforts to support a pipeline of trained workers for cyber jobs and transportation needs for the installation all were highlighted by CCC members.
Linda Greene is the executive director of the BWI Business Partnership and board chair of the Community Covenent Council. She can be contacted at 410-859-1000 and [email protected].