The Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI) was recently honored for Outstanding Rural Economic Development by the Rural Maryland Council (RMC). The award was presented as part of the 2021 Rural Summit held in Annapolis on December 1 and 2. The event’s theme was Redefining Resilience and Recovery and featured the Honorable Larry Hogan, Governor, State of Maryland; the Honorable Peter Franchot, Comptroller; United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development, Xochiti Torres Small; Maryland Department of Planning, Secretary Robert McCord and Keynote Speaker, Whitney Kimball Coe, the Director for Rural Strategies and leader of the Rural Assembly. Presenters and speakers from Maryland State and Local Government, and industry leaders in Agriculture, Forestry, Housing, Workforce and Economic Development, Technology and Healthcare led dynamic Summit discussions and breakout sessions.
Edmund Gregory, FITCI’s Board Chair, says “Our FITCI team, leaders and volunteers were honored by this recognition. It validates our ongoing efforts to help businesses launch and succeed in agribusiness and allied technologies.”
FITCI CEO Kathie Callahan Brady continues the thought, “Big cities get a lot of attention, but innovation and inspiration come from everywhere, if given the chance. FITCI shepherds emerging entrepreneurs and nourishes startups while they are in that most fragile stage of development. That’s how we, as a community, ultimately benefit from the potential that is all around us.”
The Rural Maryland Council is an independent state agency that is located within the Maryland Department of Agriculture and identifies and addresses concerns and challenges facing rural Maryland. RMC facilitates and spurs collaborative activities and problem solving and provides much needed, and greatly appreciated, financial support to organizations and agencies throughout the state. The support provided to FITCI by RMC is one example of how the organization helps communities thrive.
In her acceptance speech, Callahan Brady thanked the RMC for its enduring support, noting, “The RMC Prosperity Investment Fund was our first big grant.” It enabled our nonprofit incubator/accelerator to double its capacity by creating a shared lab space and replaced outdated and broken equipment.
“RMC’s support, in tandem with our partners in the Governor’s office, Frederick County, the City of Frederick, especially Frederick County’s Office of Economic Development and Frederick City’s Economic Development Department, helped revitalize FITCI,” Callahan Brady emphasized.
“Rural Maryland Council is such a tremendous resource for Economic Development in Rural Communities,” adds FITCI Treasurer Theresa Bethune. “We’re so grateful for their support, and how it enables FITCI to do what we do – drive innovation, economic growth, and most importantly, job growth, in Frederick.”
Since receiving that first RMC grant in 2016, FITCI has grown from 14 member companies to more than 70, a 500% increase. FITCI has assisted more than 200 companies, primarily in science and technology sectors, in their launch and/or growth. Collectively, FITCI graduates and current members have brought in about $160 million in investments during the pandemic.
Due to its continued growth, the organization has launched the ‘FITCI 2.0’ initiative. Planning is in the works for building a new life science Innovation Center in Frederick to meet growing demand. The space will feature flexible, fully equipped laboratories, including a lab devoted to agricultural technology (Agtech), a comprehensive collaborative community center and is sponsored in part by grants provided by the RMC, State, County and City.
The Frederick Innovative Technology Center Inc. (FITCI) was founded in 2004 to foster entrepreneurial activity in the information technology and life sciences industries within Frederick County. FITCI’s mission is to encourage innovation and accelerate the development of commercially viable technology-based businesses by providing a nurturing and supportive environment. FITCI supports early-stage biotechnology, information technology, and renewable energy start-up companies by offering office and wet lab space, business services, and strategic support to local entrepreneurs.