Maryland defense diversification initiatives paying off

02/25/2020| Julie Miller

Maryland defense diversification initiatives paying off

02/25/2020 | Julie Miller

Two years after the Maryland Defense Diversification Assistance Program (MDDA) launched, the Maryland Department of Commerce's Office of Federal and Military Affairs has reviewed the success of the pilot program, which recently concluded. Funded by a $1.76 million Industry Resilience grant from the DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), MDDA’s intent was to diversity Maryland’s defense supply chain against possible negative impacts from DoD program or budgetary changes. MDDA was one of many initiatives led by the Department of Commerce to help Maryland’s defense-dependent companies find additional ways to generate revenue.

Since 2017, 37 companies took advantage of the program, and as an initial review of the program’s success shows, MDDA is starting to pay off.

Annapolis-based Orbis Technologies participated in MDDA, which served as a gateway for the company’s participation in the ExporTech program, administered by the U.S. Commercial Service (USEAC Baltimore District) and MD/DC District Export Council. ExporTech is a national export assistance program that several MDDA companies leveraged. Through the MDDA and ExporTech programs, Orbis Technologies created an international growth plan, which included participation in various international trade events and website enhancements.

“MDDA was a great avenue for a small company like us to learn about exporting and receive expert guidance,” said Thuy Pisone, Corporate Executive Vice President, Global Services at Orbis Technologies.

The company experienced a 32 percent increase in sales in its Australian unit, and Pisone says the MDDA program was instrumental in that growth.

Lexington Park business CTSi also participated in MDDA and ExporTech. As a result, CTSi focused on growing its global sales by developing an export plan, accelerating learning about export compliance, and upgrading its web presence.

“The ExporTech program has been invaluable to CTSi in helping grow our export side of the business,” said Matt Hederstrom of CTSi. “Not only did they give us tactical tools to help ensure we comply with regulations, but the team helped us develop a strategic plan to actively grow our international footprint. And, the plan is working.”

In the next two years, it expects to increase sales by at least 50 percent which will lead to roughly 50 new jobs, and revenue is poised to continue its upward trajectory into the future.

Marlin Steel Wire Products, a wire and steel manufacturer in Baltimore, leveraged the program to commercialize new products and access new markets, and was pleased with the services provided. Through participation in the program, the company was connected to the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which provided consultation services.

“The MEP team and consultant were top-notch professionals and carried themselves in a manner that exceeded Marlin’s expectations,” said Drew Greenblatt, President. “We are barely scratching the surface of this market, and I look forward to the long-term opportunities.”

Other defense diversification tools offered through Commerce’s Office of Federal and Military Affairs include the Maryland Defense Network, an online tool to help defense companies uncover contractor and subcontractor opportunities; the Maryland Defense Patent Database, an outlet for exploring patents for commercialization; and DefTech centers, which helps local companies transfer technology out of federal labs.

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