Marriott Expansion Strengthens Montgomery County, Maryland’s Role as Industry Hub

[Published in Lodging Magazine]

Home to Hospitality: Marriott Expansion Strengthens Montgomery County, Maryland’s Role as Industry Hub

The world’s largest hotelier has invested $600 million in a newly opened global headquarters and hotel campus, solidifying Montgomery County, Maryland, as a center for the hospitality industry.

“Unveiling our new global headquarters is an exceptional way to celebrate our 95 years of culture and innovation,” said Marriott International Chairman David Marriott. “This campus honors our storied history and roots in the local community while showcasing Marriott’s exciting next chapter of growth as we remain dedicated to our purpose of connecting people through the power of travel.”

The new Marriott campus employs more than 3,500 people and won the 2022 Project of the Year at the Maryland Economic Development Association Awards in March. It is expected to generate $2.3 billion in business activity within its first year of opening.

“This mega project has so many beneficiaries, from employees and construction workers to suppliers to local restaurant and retail,” said Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Bill Tompkins during its grand opening. “Marriott International will continue to be a key economic driver in Montgomery County for many years to come.”

Marriott is one of more than 2,000 Montgomery County employers in leisure and hospitality, one of the key industries the county is celebrating as part of Maryland’s Economic Development Week, which runs from October 24-28.

The county is home to the headquarters for some of the biggest brands in the field. Choice Hotels, B.F. Saul Company, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Sodexo, and Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. all join Marriott International in calling the county home.

Leisure Travel Leads the Way

As a hospitality hub, Montgomery County has a front-row seat to the industry’s post-pandemic rebound. Pent-up demand meant many restaurants, entertainment venues, and domestic leisure travel started seeing an uptick in business in 2021, with business travel lagging. In September, meetings and events nationally reached 89.5 percent of their 2019 level according to Knowland, with Washington, D.C., seeing the largest growth compared to August of any market.

“Hospitality was an industry that was really hard-hit during the pandemic,” said Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation Director of Economic Development Laurie Boyer Babb. “We are starting to see that open back up with strong demand from the public. It starts with restaurants and bars as people are more comfortable going back there, and then you will see the trend continuing for business meetings and business conferences.”

Being a 35-minute Metro ride away from Washington, D.C., is just part of Montgomery County’s appeal as a leisure destination. The county is home to more than 400 parks and offers a rich arts and entertainment community.

The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District, for example, includes more than 50 venues and organizations that keep a full calendar of events for visitors, including Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center, The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, and Fillmore Silver Spring, a music venue that can hold 2,000 people for concerts and 1,200 for special events.

Strathmore, based in North Bethesda, is another anchor for creative community efforts, performances, and exhibitions. Its largest venue, Music Center at Strathmore, is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic, Washington Performing Arts, Levine Music, and CityDance. It also operates The Mansion, which houses art exhibits and other special events, and AMP, which offers live music and dining.

In 2020, Montgomery County created the Tastemakers Trail, a self-guided tour route that includes stops at 12 breweries, six wineries, two cideries, a spirit distillery, and a coffee roaster. Fall foliage routes, hiking trails, and a packed schedule of festivals and events also draw visitors and a boost to the local hospitality industry.

Building the Workforce of Tomorrow

Staffing shortages have been a concern nationwide, with food service and hospitality particularly hard hit. In Montgomery County, leaders are investing heavily in programs to ensure the community continues to have the right workforce development efforts to support the industry as it grows. Already, hospitality accounts for an estimated 42,000 jobs in the county.

The Marriott Hospitality Center at Montgomery College, for example, offers a degree in hospitality management as well as certificates in food and beverage management and conference planning. The Universities at Shady Grove can create custom training packages for employers. WorkSource Montgomery also offers training programs, job fairs, and online hiring events.

“A few years ago, Montgomery College saw this potential growth and that we needed to have a trained workforce in the hospitality industry,” Boyer Babb said. “It is a cutting-edge program, and the Universities at Shady Grove also provide fantastic resources.”

This commitment to workforce development and the area’s high quality of life are attractive to hospitality employers.

“Marriott International’s headquarters has proudly been in Montgomery County since 1955,” said Ty Breland, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Marriott International. “The county’s proximity to the nation’s capital and its vibrant culture make it a great place to work and live. We are committed to attracting and developing a robust pipeline of hospitality leaders in collaboration with local schools and universities. We are optimistic the county will continue attracting a diverse workforce with new perspectives and skillsets to support innovation and global growth in the hospitality sector.”

Hospitality opportunities continue to grow in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Sponsored by the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation—Maryland.

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