Columbia Gateway Business District (Source: Howard County Government)

Howard County has launched its Columbia Gateway Master Plan to provide a comprehensive guide to Columbia Gateway Business Park’s long-term transformation into an innovation district.

The Plan calls for Gateway to become the regional destination for anchor institutions and companies to bring research and ideas to niche industries within a mixed-use area. The plan will address multiple economic development elements, including urban design and architecture, housing, development phasing, environment and energy independence, and land use and public facilities.

The effort will build on Howard’s recently approved general plan, HoCo By Design, which envisions Gateway transforming into the major hub for employment, entertainment and innovation, offering new housing and job opportunities, open space and multi-modal transportation options.

To develop the master plan, the Department of Planning and Zoning and its consultant team will engage property owners, business owners and the broader community in a discussion about the master planning process. The public engagement kickoff will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m., at 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, in Columbia.

“Gateway’s Master Plan will open the door to opportunity and innovation in Howard County and beyond. The area is primed to become the major employment hub of tomorrow, while bringing diverse housing options and compelling civic centers and open spaces,” said Ball. “I look forward to an engaging process that will certainly result in a bold, new plan for Howard County and offer recommendations that will result in creating a national model for green design and energy independence.”

“The Gateway Master Plan represents an opportunity to spearhead economic growth for Howard County residents,” said Jennifer Jones, director of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. “By integrating mixed-use development with sustainability, we can create a thriving innovation hub that uplifts community members through good jobs, workforce housing, and environmentally conscious design. We envision this site as a living laboratory where the latest resilient technologies take root through collaboration.”

“Our consultant team has decades of experience in planning innovation districts,” added Lynda Eisenberg, director of the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning. “The team will be led by HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, and will be joined by Stilletto, a market research and strategic planning firm, and Partners for Economic Solutions, an economics consulting firm.”

“We are looking forward to working with this exceptional, highly-qualified team and to our future discussions with the community,” said Eisenberg. “As this is one of the County’s last major redevelopment opportunities, we look forward to advancing the vision set forth in HoCo By Design and engaging the community and all of Gateway’s stakeholders in the planning process.”

The Gateway master planning process is expected to conclude in early 2025 and will be presented to the Howard County Planning Board and Howard County Council for review and adoption. Additional information is available at

Community members interested in following the project can sign up at to receive email notifications.