The Charles County Board of Commissioners approved the reallocation of $100,000 for the College of Southern Maryland's Indian Head Velocity Center.
The funds will be dedicated to maker-space equipment for students, the Navy and members of the community that purchase a membership to the center. Equipment such as 3-D printers, laser equipment and tools will be included.
Additionally, the county has committed to providing $100,000 for three years to programming at the center, which was set to open in the Spring of 2020, but has been delayed.
Commissioners' President Reuben B. Collins II (D) told the Maryland Independent that the project will — over the span of years — benefit the whole community.
"It provides an opportunity for economic development. It is more directed towards technology and technology oriented fields," Collins said.
Collins added that although the ongoing state of emergency has impacted many operations, the Velocity Center's grand opening has only been slightly delayed.
"I just think that, as most jurisdictions throughout the nation, we are trying to respond to COVID-19," Collins said. "But there is nothing that I have seen or heard that suggested the pandemic has significantly impacted moving forward."
He explained that it will provide a "potential opportunity" for residents of the region, similar to the I-270 corridor in Montgomery County. "The whole concept is that the project will benefit the county ... partnering with the largest employer in the county it is bringing together major stakeholders," Collins said, "and what I foresee out of that is it provides potential opportunity."
CSM President Maureen Murphy wrote in an email to the Maryland Independent that the college has now received its use and occupancy permit for the facility. "Most of the CSM Velocity Center is complete, and the college has just received its Use and Occupancy permit for the facility," she wrote.
With an expected completion of late spring 2020, it has missed the mark. However, Murphy explained to the Maryland Independent that COVID-19 posed no "significant delays."
"There were no substantial construction delays," Murphy wrote. "There have been some delays in terms of purchasing equipment necessary to some programming; however, as conditions become safer, programming will begin."
She added that the space will be dedicated to college students first and foremost, but the community and the Navy will also be permitted to occupy the building for "innovation and collaboration."
"Its purpose is to promote professional development for Navy scientists and engineers, to enhance the retention of talent, to provide opportunities for entrepreneurship and experimentation, to recruit young talent, and to build good will among the community outside the gate," Murphy wrote.
She added that not only will the center be an area for educational development, an economic aspect will also be introduced to the community.
"The CSM Velocity Center is also an economic development catalyst for Indian Head," Murphy wrote about the function served by the center. "It contains dedicated space for Navy research, ideation and design; supporting small learning workshops and seminars, vendors’ showcases, use of visualization tools while maximizing technology transfer of dual-use technologies and supporting educational and community partnerships."
Additionally, Murphy explained, CSM will host classes at the center once it is safe to do so. "CSM will host limited classes such as Computer Aided Design, Cybersecurity and Digital Photography," she wrote.
Furthermore, Murphy said a shared space — with a max capacity of 300 — will be available for events. When no events are scheduled, the area can be sub-sectioned for workspace and will provide an area for College of Southern Maryland office space.