College Park mayor: How city is revitalizing by partnering with its university

U.S. cities continue to reinvent themselves and demonstrate economic resiliency. While The University of Maryland-College Park (UMCP) has long had a reputation as a high-class research institution, its status has had a limited impact on the community surrounding it.

Although there are many different ideas of what a classic “college town” is, College Park, Maryland has long been considered in terms of the elements that it lacks. Although about 30-35% of undergraduate students live on campus, and many more in the surrounding neighborhoods, College Park has historically lacked the eclectic cultural opportunities that make a college town great.

Now, however, the University of Maryland is increasing its investment in opportunities for local innovation, and the city is supporting businesses that want to stay and work here. As a result, more non-student residents as well as businesses are relocating to the area. College Park is rebuilding itself as a college town based on an innovation economy.

College Park has rarely been seen as a hub for innovation. Most of the innovators who have gotten their start in College Park, such as Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus, and Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, left College Park before they started the innovative work that made them famous.

This is changing. Recent upstarts in College Park, including FlexEl Battery, MedPrint, a medical 3-d printing program, and the Food Recovery Network, are all building their companies within College Park.

The change is perhaps most apparent in the transit-oriented redevelopment planned for the under-utilized land around the College Park Metro station.

College Park is set to become a model for how college towns can collaborate with the universities in their communities to transform their cities and fuel a new innovation company across the region and across the United States.

Photo of College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn:

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