Find out how Rockville is REDI for Business
Meet Cindy Stewart, Executive Director of REDI, who is helping to to create vibrant downtown spaces, encourage economic growth, and promote cultural initiatives. Leading REDI in new ways, her team works to grow and retain businesses within the City of Rockville.
Tell us about REDI and how your team helps businesses large and small.
REDI is a public-private partnership with the City of Rockville, Maryland that provides economic development services to the city to support and grow the city’s economy. REDI serves all sizes of businesses, from start-ups to corporate headquarters. Our Maryland Women’s Business Center offers a variety of seminars and support services to women owned and operated businesses. Additionally, our staff assists businesses that want to grow or locate in Rockville – from finding the right location and navigating the public approval process to getting connected with community and business leaders and services. Rockville is REDI for business.
How does your economic development role here in Rockville differ from your previous work in Florida and California?
Every jurisdiction has its own particular assets. Rockville is fortunate to have a strong business community, highly intelligent and diverse workforce, top schools, quality public services and recreational opportunities, as well as great neighborhoods. Rockville is poised for growth in a number of industry sectors especially BioHealth, Cybersecurity, Professional Services, Corporate Headquarters, and the cultural arts. In Florida, we were a launch pad for businesses to Latin America. In addition to supporting the retention and attraction of international headquarters such as HBO-Latin America, we were focused on redeveloping the downtown areas with luxury developers to bring activated public spaces, housing, mixed-use projects, and destination shopping and dining. In the central valley of California, I was supporting an agricultural tech community and growing healthcare industry. One of the projects I was able to deliver was bringing the University of California to the downtown to operate a venture lab that incubated innovative businesses in the region.
How does REDI support businesses already in the area or considering a move to Rockville?
REDI is able to assist businesses to grow in or locate to Rockville in a variety of ways. We have data on the market and available real estate, and can connect businesses to community leaders who are able to assist them. We are also advocates for business in navigating required governmental processes. We are a conduit to connect businesses to the community and to locate the resources they need. We also have several incentive programs to offer and can assist in connecting county and state incentive programs.
What are some of the growing industry sectors?
Rockville has an extremely strong BioHealth Industry. Being located close to the FDA and NIH, and being home for the development of the human genome, we are known for our talented workforce and synergy in these fields. One of the largest growing sectors is IT and Cyber security, which is only going to increase with Amazon locating in the regional area. We also have strong diversity of other sectors like professional services, non-profits and associations, light industrial, medical services, research and development, hospitality, banking, and cultural arts. Rockville is one of the nation’s top dining and shopping destinations with a wide variety of culturally diverse offerings.
What are some of the business advantages to reside within the city of Rockville limits?
Rockville is optimally located in the DC regional market with access to three international airports, ports, and major highways. I-270, known as the Technology Corridor, runs through Rockville and has attracted major corporations like Meso Scale Discovery and Westat. In addition, the red line of the Metro runs through Rockville parallel with Rockville Pike with 3 feeding metro stops. This makes it easy to commute to or from Rockville. The proximity to federal agencies has spurred a supporting market of companies. We are accessible to NIH, FDA, NIST, and the National Cancer Institute. The Universities at Shady Grove provide a unique campus concept bringing nine universities together to offer more than 80 degree programs to the area, and benefiting businesses, along with other regionally located universities and colleges, with a highly educated workforce.
Please share a few examples of business success in Rockville.
REDI has been operating more than 20 years to support the Rockville business community. It has been a leader in highlighting local businesses and supporting the local community. In this last fiscal year, Rockville assisted A-Tech Systems, Avendra, EurekaFacts, Kalibri Labs, and OJC Consulting with grant funds from its MOVE program and Business Expansion Fund. Combined, these companies constitute a total of 21,354 square feet of office space and over 298 full time jobs. This year, four Rockville-based companies, CryptoniteNXT, KolonTissueGene Inc., Rife International, and Speak Agent Inc., received ExportMD grants from the MD Department of Commerce to help finance the costs of international marketing efforts.
Ascentage Pharma, a global biopharmaceutical company with U.S. headquarters in Rockville, raised $150M in Series C funding to support its pipeline of novel small molecule therapies for cancers, build out facilities for research & development and manufacturing, and create additional jobs. Also, Launch Workplaces finished its Rockville expansion of 11,500 square feet at its Seven Locks Road location offering even more opportunities for individuals, startups, and small companies to grow.
In addition to an extensive economic development background, you have a law degree and a master of fine art in painting. How does your interesting background help inform your work in economic development?
I have loved building and making things since I was a kid. In my career, working as a commercial real estate attorney at The Rouse Company allowed me to conceive of creating communities and gathering places that were inclusive, and my artistic background allows me to visualize well. It has turned out that these skills are ideal for the vision required to help communities develop and grow. I love working in economic development, and I am very happy to have returned to Maryland to work for the City of Rockville.