We must keep our economic engine chugging along at a steady clip if we are to continue to thrive as a county. That means sometimes taking a more nimble approach to planning and development, embracing innovation, and supporting new and emerging industries as they grow here in Montgomery County.
The County Executive recommended a budget for the Department of Economic Development that reflected a stronger focus on marketing and business development. The Council supported this approach, along with resources to support DED's efforts to focus on retaining companies of strategic value to the county, including the County's largest employers and fastest growing companies, as well as businesses that have received incentives through the county's Economic Development Fund (EDF) or assistance from the County's incubator network.
I am particularly pleased that my colleagues supported the County Executive's recommendation to include funding for the Green Investor Incentive Program, created by legislation I sponsored near the end of my term as Council President. Coupled with my work on Utility 2.0 and the Chief Innovation Officer position that I proposed, my goal has been to help reposition the county so that it is known as a place where cutting edge green tech business will feel welcomed and supported.
Our Planning Department obviously plays a critical role in our economic development work as well -- and the Council funded 100% of the Park and Planning Commission's FY14 request. The Planning Department has an ambitious work schedule in the coming months and years, including a minor master plan for Bethesda that could potentially lead to significant improvements for the Capital Crescent Trail. Planning staff is working on their draft version now, which, after being heard by the Planning Board, is planned to make its way to the Council this October. A broader Bethesda CBD master plan will get underway later this summer for a planned arrival to the Council in Spring 2015.
Green Investor Incentive Program: Passed May 16, 2013
If you recall from my last newsletter, I mentioned that I was working on legislation, Bill 40-12, that would encourage the growth of green tech firms here in Montgomery County. With good feedback from my colleagues, and their unanimous support, we created a program, the Green Investor Incentive Program, that should do just that. Montgomery County is now the first county in the nation to have such a law, which should help establish our County as a hotspot for green tech development.
Patterned after a similar program for the biotech industry, and recommended by the County Executive's Green Economy Task Force, this bill provides angel investors in cutting edge Montgomery County green tech firms with matching dollars up to $25,000. Funds for this program were included in the County Executive's budget and tentatively agreed to by our Council. If successful, this program will attract companies with unique ideas that will help us improve the environment and boost our local green economy. That's a win-win.
Economic Deveopment April 3, 2013
A thriving economy is critical to the ongoing success of our county. In order to support the kind of community we enjoy and expect to have, we must continue to grow our economy. That means embracing innovation, making strategic investments, and supporting new growth in a smart way that preserves the quality of life of our existing neighborhoods and honors our environmental values.
The County Executive's recommended budget for the Department of Economic Development reflects a stronger focus on marketing and business development. The budget would provide resources to support DED's efforts to focus on retaining companies of strategic value to the county, including the County's largest employers and fastest growing companies, as well as businesses that have received incentives through the county's Economic Development Fund (EDF) or assistance from the County's incubator network.
I am very pleased that the County Executive included in his economic development budget funding for the Green Investor Incentive Program, created by legislation I sponsored near the end of my term as Council President. Coupled with my work on Utility 2.0 and the Chief Innovation Officer position that I championed, my goal has been to help reposition the county so that it is known as a place where cutting edge green tech business will feel welcomed and supported. Earlier this week, this legislation received the unanimous support of the PHED Committee and if passed by the full Council, the program it creates would be the first of its kind in the country.
And obviously our Planning Department plays a large part in the work of economic development as well. I am pleased that the County Executive funded 100% of M-NCPPC's FY14 request. As the Council discussed yesterday at the Semi-Annual report of the Planning Board, the Planning Department has an ambitious work schedule in the coming months and years. Planning staff is hard at work developing master plans in various parts of the county that allow for brighter economic opportunities and reflect the anticipated growth of our county's population. In order to make our planning process a bit more nimble, I proposed introducing the concept of "minor master plans", that would still allow the same transparency and engagement that the planning process has always had, but reduces the scope of plans so that the Planning Department can move more quickly to capture economic potential in strategic areas.
Council at Work on Green Investor Incentive Program March 14, 2013
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of serving on the county's Green Economy Task Force, which was devoted to figuring out ways in which we could support a green economy. One of the recommendations that came out of that work was a suggestion to create a program similar to what we have done in the bio tech/life science field -- reward investors who invest in such businesses in Montgomery County.
So, when I began my one-year term as Council President last December, I committed to introducing legislation that would do just that. It has taken a while, but I am pleased to say that in working with the County Department of Economic Development, my legislation, Bill 40-12, the Green Investor Incentive Program (GIIP), is poised to achieve that objective.
If passed, we will be the first county in the nation to have a program like this. Coupled with my work on Utility 2.0, and the creation of the Chief Innovation Officer, my goal has been to help reposition the county so that it is known as a place where cutting edge green tech business will feel welcomed and supported. Our commitment to the environment is one of our strengths as a county, and it is my hope that this new incentive program will help us solidify that reputation and attract companies with innovated ways to help our planet -- and our economy. Now that's a nice combination.
A New Tax Credit for Green Businesses December 19, 2012
In an effort to jump start our local "green economy," I have introduced a bill that would create a Green Energy Tax supplement within Montgomery County. This initiative was originally recommended by the County Executive's Green Economy Task Force and would be modeled after the successful Biotechnology Tax Credit that was recently implemented by the County. And like that tax credit, we will fund this program when the economy permits.
Montgomery County should be an attractive place for businesses, particularly cutting edge green companies. New and vibrant green companies catalyze the market and meet the growing demands of a changing world, a world more conscious of its energy consumption and more aware of its environmental responsibilities. This tax credit is designed to build on our County's reputation as being a good, green place to live and work.
Potential businesses that could qualify under this credit include companies focusing on renewable, clean, or distributed energy, energy efficient products or services, sustainable farming and food distribution, water quality and conservation, pollution reduction and remediation, environmentally preferable and biologically based materials and services that use these products, recycling, reuse and resource recovery, and biodiversity and natural resource conservation.
I will continue to provide updates as this bill works it way through the legislative process and we work towards ways to attract innovative green enterprises.
Bethesda is #17 in Cool July 31, 2012
Last week, Forbes Magazine ranked Bethesda as #17 among America's "coolest cities," coming in ahead of Minneapolis and just behind Oakland, CA.
If you ask this Councilmember, who happens to live in and represent Bethesda, Forbes only confirms what we have long known - that Bethesda is in indeed a very cool place to be. In fact, Bethesda received a score of 95 on the magazine's "Arts and Culture index," a nod to the strong and vibrant arts community that calls Bethesda home.
Thank you to the Bethesda Urban Partnership, which does such an outstanding job supporting, maintaining, and promoting this wonderful community.
A Chief Innovation Officer May 17, 2012
During the Council's recent "Shaping Our Future: Adapting to Change" briefing on the new economy, we heard from an early funder of Twitter and a representative from Google as to what makes communities more attractive to new economy entrepreneurs. They urged us to take concrete steps to "brand" Montgomery County as a community that welcomes tech-savvy entrepreneurs and appeals to graduates of our nation's top schools.
One measure that I believe we can take right now is creating a "Chief Innovation Officer." This position has become more common among private sector companies, but has also been embraced by the cities of San Francisco and Philadelphia. The principal function of the "CIO" would be to put our County's data to work for our residents, capturing and harnessing the creative energies of our residents to create new economic opportunities, and improving service delivery and reducing costs by finding new solutions to old problems.
The work of the "CIO" would go a long way to put Montgomery County on the cutting edge. I am pleased that the budget we just approved contains the funds necessary to move forward with this important position.
A Small Business "Navigator" March 13, 2012
We have a lot of rules, regulations, and requirements in this County. And while many of them are in place to achieve broader policy goals, the sheer volume can at times be daunting to a small business owner who is new to the County or needs help getting their small business off the ground. And we know that in Montgomery County, "small business is big business."
That is why I am sponsoringBill 05-12, which would create a "small business navigator". This position would be dedicated to advising and assisting new and existing small businesses in, literally, navigating the complexities of Montgomery County regulations so that small business owners can worry less about red tape and more about register tape.
I am pleased that Bill 05-12 already has the endorsement of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, and the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. The Bill is scheduled for a PHED Committee worksession on March 19.