Almost 200 representatives of minority, women, local, disabled and veteran-owned businesses recently attended a Contractor Outreach Event hosted by the Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

Held in One Merriweather, the recently opened headquarters of MedStar Health in Downtown Columbia, the event was designed to highlight upcoming business opportunities during the transformative redevelopment now underway in Downtown Columbia.

Greg Fitchett, vice president of development for HHC, welcomed the crowd and provided an overview of the Downtown Columbia Plan guiding the revitalization of 391 underdeveloped acres adjacent to Merriweather Post Pavilion, Symphony Woods, The Mall in Columbia and Lake Kittamaqundi. At full build-out, Downtown Columbia will include nearly 14 million square feet of new mixed-use development.

“We are committed to diversity and inclusive workforce opportunities for residents of Howard County and to supporting Howard County businesses and entrepreneurship,” Fitchett told attendees.

Other speakers included County Executive Allan Kittleman, County Council Vice Chair Calvin Ball and County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, as well as representatives of the HHC design and construction team and Whiting-Turner, the general contractor/construction manager for the project.

The half-billion dollars of development recently completed or under construction is just the beginning of the project, attendees were told; more than 25,000 construction jobs and 31,000 new permanent full-time jobs are anticipated. HHC, the master developer for Downtown Columbia, has signed an agreement with the Howard County government to support a diversity and inclusion contraction program, workshop opportunities and a hiring initiative.