One of the original members of the Fort Meade Alliance, COPT Defense Properties has come to regard the FMA as “the gold standard for community relations around a fort,” said Bill Barroll, Managing Senior Vice President.
“I view the Fort Meade Alliance as a partner of the fort, supporting their mission,” said Greg Prossner, Senior Vice President/Asset Management + Leasing. “I think one of the best attributes of the Alliance is it is not a networking organization. Networking just happens as a byproduct of its mission to support the fort.”
That structure has enabled member companies to help provide services needed to support that broader mission, including STEM workshops and security clearance education to high school students, mentoring to startup businesses, and other efforts to expand the cyber workforce, Prossner said.
The FMA’s work has also enabled businesses and organizations in multiple sectors to better understand and support the missions of Fort Meade agencies and commands, Barroll said. “Being connected to the Fort Meade Alliance has allowed us to understand what was coming and stay ahead of the curve so that we could provide working environments for the demand drivers as they happen.”
In particular, FMA activities have provided COPT with insights into the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s impact on Fort Meade and the needs of new organizations on post, including the Defense Information Systems Agency and U.S. Cyber Command. It has helped COPT keep abreast of evolving standards for SCIFs, the migration of some government work to more collaborative spaces outside the fence line, such as DreamPort, and the contracting environment for defense and intelligence companies.
“We always aim to have product available to meet the needs of contractors because when the fort, or the government in general, awards a contract, they don’t say you have 24 months to stand it up. They say, you have 90 days,” Prossner said. “We always want to be in a position to meet those needs of the contractor which support the important missions of the fort.”
The incidental networking that happens through FMA has also aided the growth of COPT and other businesses.
“I remember walking into one of the first holiday parties. It was in a sectioned off part of a hotel ballroom and there were maybe 30 people there,” Barroll said. “I met Bill Dunahoo there. He was a tenant of ours and he became a good confidant as we were trying to figure out what was happening in the contracting world. He became a sounding board as both of our businesses were growing. Through the FMA, we developed relationships with a lot of companies and tenants that we otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to know.”
Numbers prove out the success of that effort. COPT Defense Properties, which shifted its holdings to focus on multi-story buildings that can support SCIF space, regards the Fort Meade region as one of its strongest markets. Its holdings in National Business Park alone have grown by 2 million square feet since the inception of the FMA and it currently owns 10 million square of office space in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.