New Allegany County grant sparks innovation and creates public-private partnerships with Appalachian Lab

May 10, 2024
UMCES Appalachian Laboratory, Frostburg, MD. Photo courtesy of Allegany County Community and Economic Development.

Allegany County Economic and Community Development, the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and for-profit firms are partnering to advance environmental science and technology development while also creating high paying, long-term jobs in the county. 

The new Cleantech Research and Development (CRD) Grant program, funded by Allegany County, offers companies up to $50,000 to cover costs incurred for research and development activities conducted in partnership with the Appalachian Laboratory, located in Frostburg, Maryland. The required 1:1 or 50% match from companies brings the total available funding to $100,000.

The CRD Grant program helps local firms, including those that have relocated to the county, access leading edge research services and facilities at the Appalachian Laboratory to meet a growing demand for research and development support. Successfully developed products and services can then be produced or provided by firms in the county, creating high-paying technology jobs for local workers.

Dr. David Nelson, Appalachian Laboratory Director and Professor, sees this as a beneficial partnership for all involved. 

“Investment in scientific research and environmental sustainability provides huge benefits to society,” said Nelson.  “We are excited to partner with Allegany County to help support the success of businesses in our community and we appreciate the investment in, and commitment to, the Lab’s role as a valued partner in economic development in our community”. 

Dung Minh Hoang. Photo courtesy of Allegany County Community and Economic Development.

The first project funded under the new grant program recently got underway.  Dung Minh Hoang and his start-up company Aquatic Circle, LLC, located in the Allegany Business Park, received funding in early April 2024 from TEDCO (the Maryland Technology Development Corporation) to develop and test a novel filtration technology for use in aquaculture, or the farming of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.

“Where I come from in Vietnam, we always ate fresh fish and seafood,” Dung explained. “This could bring access to fresh fish and shrimp, particularly for areas far from the ocean like ours. My idea can help the economy, as well as the environment.”

While Dung’s company will be responsible for product development and production, the Appalachian Laboratory will provide workspace in their industrial-sized greenhouse and, through their water chemistry facilities, will test Aquatic Circle’s water samples to see if the new filtration system is working as expected.

According to Adam Strott, Economic Development Specialist with Allegany County, the county sees this project as the start of a long-term partnership with the Lab. 

“Because of assets in the county like the Appalachian Laboratory, we have a unique opportunity to create a niche economy centered on environmental technology and innovation,” said Strott.

While it is still too soon to assess the success of the CRD Grant program, this first project will be invaluable to demonstrating the value of the program.

“Growing a business, and at the same time building an entire new industry, takes time, but if successful, we know they will be here for a very long time,” stated Strott.

Applications for the CRD grant are accepted on a rolling basis at the invitation of a qualified member of Allegany County Economic and Community Development. Applicants must be for-profit, tax-paying entities in good standing with the county and State of Maryland and must be physically present in Allegany County. 

Those interested in learning more should contact Strott at