Montgomery County continues to house more fast-growing private companies than any other county in Maryland.
More than half of Maryland’s businesses that made Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 rapid-growth companies nationwide, which was released this week, were in Montgomery, at 10 out of 19 businesses. Last year, 12 out of 20 in Maryland that made the top 500 were in Montgomery.
So what is it about Montgomery that makes it a better breeding ground than most for relatively young companies to explode?
Being so close to federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring and National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg is a key factor, said Elaine Amir, executive director of the Montgomery County campus of Johns Hopkins University.
“The federal research labs help a lot,” said Amir, also a board member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and Tech Council of Maryland.
The high educational level of employees and entrepreneurs is another factor, said Seth Goldman, president of Bethesda beverage company Honest Tea, which made the Inc. list in 2003 and 2004.
“It’s a very idea-based environment, which is open to new ideas,” he said.
The area has good infrastructure, such as close access to airports. And it has resources in the mode of innovation centers, conferences and mentors, Goldman said.
On this year’s Inc. list, the two fastest-growing private companies in Maryland are in Montgomery County for the first time since 2002. Inc. ranks private companies based on their revenue growth in the past three years.
NSR Solutions, a Rockville information technology business that provides high-tech, recruiting, engineering and other services for federal and commercial clients, ranked 41st in the nation and tops in Maryland.
The company had revenue of $10.1 million last year, a more than 6,000 percent increase from roughly $150,000 in 2009.
NSR was founded in 2003 and has added 244 employees in the past three years to number a little more than 250, according to the magazine.
Gaithersburg-based DSFederal, another government contractor that provides services such as software integration, consulting, training and grants management, was ranked 55th nationally and second in Maryland. The company saw revenue of $9.4 million in 2012, more than 5,000 percent higher than roughly $180,000 in 2009.
Founded in 2007, DSFederal has added 67 employees in the past three years to reach 70.
Some media reports had NSR Solutions ranked 42nd and DSFederal 56th, but those were based on an earlier version of the list, said Kasey Wehrum, an editor with Inc. “The list needed to be updated after a discrepancy was found with one of the companies,” Wehrum said.
The fastest-growing Frederick County company on the list was Mount Airy-based Daytner Construction, which ranked 840th nationally and 31st in Maryland with a three-year revenue growth of 532 percent.
Last year, Gaithersburg Internet marketing business Blue Corona was Montgomery’s fastest-growing company, ranking 174th nationally and fourth in the state. This year, Blue Corona again made Inc.’s list, which lists as many as 5,000 companies, ranking 694th nationally and 28th in Maryland. The 21-employee business had $3 million in revenue last year, up 660 percent from 2009.
A key factor in Blue Corona’s fast growth again this year is its customers’ need for sales, said president and CEO Ben Landers.
“Virtually every business owner I know could benefit from a website that generates more leads and sales,” he said. “They also want to know exactly which advertising campaigns are working and which should be terminated — and this is exactly what we do.”
Even with such companies, there still is room for the county to improve upon bringing ideas to the commercial market, Amir said. The Rockville campus houses about 35 companies, and technology transfers should continue to be a major focus, she said.