Last Wednesday the Howard County Economic Development Authority hosted it's 7th Howard County CORE Tour. This is an event that occurs every eighteen months and features a bus tour (three buses actually) of all the major commercial real estate projects in the county. Before boarding the buses, the 175 or so attendees were treated to breakfast at Maple Lawn.
The featured speaker for breakfast was Anirban Basu, the Chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group. Mr. Basu is an economist who analyzes national and local market trends and their potential impact. In this case he spoke about the economic health of Howard County as it relates to both our region and the nation. It should come as no surprise that he was generally bullish on on our prospects. He did express some concern about the number of proposed office projects in Northern Virginia (in excess of 16 million additional square feet) and the ability of that market to absorb all of that space. He suggested this may cause a spillover effect on office rents in the Maryland.
One of his more intriguing oberservations was his belief that Laurel and its environs is going to become an increasingly attractive market for homeowners and businesses in the coming years. This of course is largely due to it's location. Apparently he is not the only one to think this. The attendees were also given a handout with a Population Projection for the seven regional planning districts in Howard County that was recently (January 2007) put out by the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning.
The Population Projection table broke down the seven regional planning areas (Cookesville, West Friendship, Ellicott City, Clarkesville, Columbia, Elkridge, and Laurel) and projected their populations out to the year 2030. The Columbia Regional Planning District is projected to peak at 99,573 in 2010 and will begin to actually decline after that. The table projects a Columbia population of 98,844 in 2020 and a further drop to 98,317 by 2030. At the same time, the population in the Laurel (Howard County portion) is projected to grow to 37,640 by 2010, 45,538 by 2020 and 48,662 by 2030.