The Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor, a region-wide marketing and planning effort focused on preparing for base realignment and closure growth, was named the Active Base Community of the Year by the Association of Defense Communities during its annual conference in Boston, Mass., Aug. 2.

The CSSC Aberdeen Proving Ground regional BRAC office is located at the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center in Aberdeen.

Accepting the award were Tim McNamara, deputy to the Aberdeen Proving Ground Garrison commander; Karen Holt, CSSC BRAC manager; David Craig, Harford County executive; Robert McCord, attorney for Harford County Government; James Richardson, director of Harford County Office of Economic Development; and Vernon Thompson, director of Cecil County Office of Economic Development.

In addition, Craig was named the Public Sector Official of the Year for his service to the defense community.

The Defense Community Award program recognizes communities and individuals that have proven excellence and leadership in transforming their communities or played a key role in helping their community achieve its goal.

The CSSC is the result of a partnership among member jurisdictions in Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties and Baltimore City, which focus on business development and marketing and includes regional planning and infrastructure for an improved environment, business climate and quality of life. Seven strategic partners include counties in southern Pennsylvania and Delaware and four economic development and policy groups.

In the Aberdeen office, Holt leads a team of three - Steven S. Overbay, BRAC coordinator, and Luwanna D. Spells, administrative assistant - in showcasing the region and serving as a welcome center for Department of Defense civilians and contractors relocating to the area.

Holt said the office leads an unprecedented marketing effort to present a greater understanding of what the region offers.

"Relocation is a big part of the puzzle," Holt said. "The driver is that we're working with such a large civilian workforce and the focus is on transportation, infrastructure and workforce education."

Among its accomplishments, the office developed a regional drive time map and distributed "BRACANUMS," a pamphlet which lists acronyms and abbreviations related to BRAC, and the APG Welcome Relocation Guide, which lists businesses, information resources, community clubs and service organizations and other information that can ease the transition process.

"It's very exciting," said Holt, an Aberdeen High School and University of Maryland graduate. "We want people to know what new offerings there are in the community while maintaining the quality of life for those already here.

"BRAC is an historical event for this region and we're proud to be a part of it," she added.

The team meets regularly with about 35 others from regional marketing committees for planning and updates. To date, the office has received $7 million grant funding to conduct studies looking at the feasibility of a multi-modal train station accommodating rail and bus transportation on and off post.

Holt said the team is currently coordinating studies to look at regional workforce analysis, job prognosis for dual income households, job markets for health care and emergency services professionals and other factors related to BRAC. They currently are conducting classes on a regional GIS system that will enable users to cross county and state lines to analyze an area.

"The way multiple states have come together is unprecedented," Holt said.

In addition, the office serves as an information resource center that is open for others to use as a hub for BRAC related tours.

Holt said the office coordinates frequently with the APG BRAC Transformation Office which is led by Col. Andrew Nelson, garrison transformation officer, who is assisted by Ralph Cardenuto.

She said that she, Cardenuto and a Harford County Economic Development representative together briefed transitioning JPEO personnel.

"We wanted to put a face on the process," she said. "Put yourself in their shoes. Many of these folks are in their forties, possibly caring for aging parents with kids that don't want to move. Our job is to make sure they have the resources to make those decisions."

"This award was not just for us, but for the consortium," she said. "It was a group effort."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16