Montgomery County should be attractive to business for so many reasons. We have a highly educated workforce and a great school system. We have an ideal location just outside of Washington DC. We have numerous amenities, from our award-winning park system to venues such as the Strathmore Music Center. Yet we don’t make it easy for businesses to locate here. We spend very limited dollars on marketing and incentives. Our regulatory process is complex. We take tough state regulations and we make them even tougher, simply because we can.
I have always felt that a vibrant business community is essential to our future success. Fortunately, Marriott International decided to stay in the county and we are starting to see more development in places like Bethesda, Wheaton and White Oak. But we must do more.
Businesses fund many of the county’s philanthropic efforts and they pay significant taxes, reducing the burden on our residents. They play a vital role in creating dynamic, mixed-use communities like Pike and Rose and Bethesda Row. We have many smaller businesses that provide a variety of jobs for our residents.
As county executive, I would reach out to various businesses to let them know they are appreciated. I would expand our workforce development efforts to make sure that businesses can fill the positions they have open and that our residents have access to higher paying jobs. I would open new business incubators, because technology is changing so rapidly and we might just produce the next Amazon.
Further, I would reach out to the chiefs of the major federal agencies located in the county and ask how the county could be a better partner; one that would assist them in achieving their mission by making it possible for the private interests that support the agencies to be in close proximity to them, along with the housing and transportation infrastructure that complement such a location.
And finally, I would reduce the energy tax, which has taken a heavy toll on our business community. We increased it significantly when the recession hit, but we did not sunset it, as promised, after two years. It’s a very competitive world out there and if we want to be a player, we must step up our game.
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