Posted by: Economic Development Team on Wednesday, January 27, 2021
The United States Bomb Technician Association (USBTA) is establishing an emerging technology research, development, and training facility in the Town of Indian Head, making it the second major revitalization project for the town in the space of two years. The first project was the CSM Velocity Center, an off-base collaboration space for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD), which was a big draw for the USBTA seeking space close to NSWC IHD.
USBTA is a non-profit membership association representing 2,000 bomb technicians, 468 bomb squads nationwide, and 60 industry and government agencies. Their innovative projects, partnerships, and training will help showcase the assets of the region and the Town of Indian Head for other small and large businesses that want access to emerging technology, NSWC IHD, and the significant Department of Defense (DOD) presence in our region. USBTA’s presence will help revitalize a town that has been in need of reinvestment and redevelopment for a generation.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In late 2019, personnel from NSWC IHD introduced the Charles County Economic Development Department (EDD) to the USBTA, who were seeking a location in Indian Head. Sean Dennis, USBTA founder, said, “The NSWC does a great job with coming up with new ideas and new technology for the explosives and bomb technician community. We have been talking to them for over a year, and we thought it would be a good fit to try to establish a footprint outside the gate.”
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY AND TRAINING
The focus of USBTA at its newly renovated facility is on emerging technology and getting innovative ideas out to the community. The association was founded with the premise of filling gaps in the community for military and public safety, and the biggest gaps they have found are technology driven. “We want to get that technology out to the end user in a more prudent, cost-effective way both for the government as well as for the actual agencies, state and local, that procure those types of technologies,” said Dennis. At this new location, Dennis said, government, academia industry partners can collaborate with bomb technician subject matter experts (SME).
USBTA plans to conduct research and development and pilot new technologies in their space, as well as sponsor 8-10 trainings and technology conferences throughout the year, and they are thrilled to have access to the CSM Velocity Center for their larger events. “We have a gold mine right across the street,” said Dennis. The Velocity Center has conference and meeting space, flex space, and high-speed internet and wireless access points in all rooms. The facility also has video teleconferencing capability in all meeting/classroom and seminar rooms, as well as connectivity for external computer hook up, large screen projection systems, ceiling mounted projectors, microphones, and podiums in all meeting/classroom and seminar spaces.
With 8-10 trainings a year, direct spending generated from the USBTA’s events will benefit the Town of Indian Head and other parts of Charles County, as meeting attendees will spend money on lodging and meals, and the events themselves will require space and equipment rentals, catering services, and more. The EDD estimates direct spending to range from $525,000 to $1.1 million annually.
GROWING INVESTMENT IN INDIAN HEAD
The new facility that is being renovated by USBTA is a 29,600 sq ft building, formerly the CVS Pharmacy building on Route 210. Depending on the buildout, the projected operation date is September 2021. USBTA will employee 6-8 full-time staff to keep the facility running and relocate their headquarters and operations from Colorado to Indian Head.
In addition to the USBTA, two more private companies, ARA and MemSel, have expressed an interest in relocating to the adjoining building, which was the former Super Fresh and A&P at 4450 Indian Head Highway. ARA is a multidisciplinary engineering firm with an energetics division specializing in propellants and explosives, similar to the type of research and development that is conducted at the NSWC IHD. MemSel specializes in producing nanofiber filters. Both firms are interested in co-locating in a building with USBTA and working with the CSM Velocity Center.