Shortly after taking office in 2002, I created the Department of Economic Development. It was a good idea then and even more important now. I will refocus their efforts on their primary job – growing the local economy!
Then, as now, we need to make sure we KEEP businesses and jobs here, GROW those businesses by helping them expand and RECRUIT new businesses that match our community and our workforce.
The best way to succeed in business is to keep your existing customers. For economic development, it’s the same theory with all the tools of government available to help make it happen! And, what we do, we will measure.
Keep Existing Businesses – We will start with the basics: who is here, how many employees, what do they do, and are they happy? Then, we get to the second level: where do they find their employees and customers. When is their lease up for renewal? Are they expanding?
Grow Existing Businesses – After the inventory is complete, we will expand our business visits and strengthen relationships with the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism, Downtown Frederick Partnership and FITCI to create a list of things we should fix – the development process, online permit applications and bill paying, pending minimum wage legislation, public transit and parking issues, even how blighted properties effect their business.
Recruit New Businesses – We will focus on expanding in our core industries – bioscience, technology, services, pharmaceuticals, health services, tourism, plus the “hot” industries like the craft beverage business that continues to expand. We will set a goal of recruiting a Fortune 500 company to establish its headquarters here within a year and two more the following year. Remember, what we do, we will measure.
Right now, 5 of our top 9 major employers are government related. Strong federal and local government jobs are great, but we have to make sure we are insulated from an unexpected change of course by strengthening our private sector employers.
There are hundreds of ideas that can grow our local economy and expand strong jobs in Frederick. I successfully adopted Brownfields legislation, tax credit districts for the Golden Mile and other retail destinations, the Arts & Entertainment District and more.
I will work with commercial real estate brokers and developers so we move in the same direction on vacant properties, pending new sites and the creation of enterprise zones to drive development where it is best suited.
One of the biggest economic development projects is the Downtown Hotel and Conference Center. This has gotten complicated with lack of leadership from City Hall, I support the project and will do my part to make it a success while looking out for the interests of City residents and businesses.
As a small business owner, I won’t forget the engine that fuels Frederick’s local economy – our independent shops, restaurants and entrepreneurs! It’s a creative, dedicated and hard-working bunch – and good looking too! I will listen to the great ideas coming from this group to make sure we develop a long-term location for the Farmers’ Market, pop-up art shops, themes for Carroll Creek “floatillas” and even a Downtown ice rink.
Frederick is a fantastic to live and work. We know that! It’s the job of the Mayor and the team in Economic Development to make sure we don’t rest on past success and reach our potential.