Can 16 members of the Frederick community provide BOLD ideas to enhance and attract more businesses to the City?
It was early May of this year that I received an email from Richard G. Griffin, Director of Economic Development for The City of Frederick.
The message was to inform me that Mayor Randy McClement was going to “appoint a 16-member Economic Development Advisory Council (EDAC) for the City of Frederick composed of business owners/representatives, developers, and commercial brokers,” and I was identified “as an individual whom he would like to serve on the Council.”
The goal of this new entity is provide “advice and specific recommendations to help ensure that the City of Frederick, both today and into the future, is the preferred community in the Baltimore Washington region for attracting private business investment, jobs, and economic opportunity.”
Of course I was honored to be asked and very willing to serve. I was also very impressed by the others who accepted the Mayor’s invitation.
> Sound regulatory policies affecting business and industry
> Annual economic development work program and budget
> Business development incentives
> Evaluation methodology to determine efficacy of economic development program
> Special issues/projects assigned by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen
> Community education on economic and business development topics
The first meeting was held on Monday, June 30, 2014. It was and will continue to be open to the public.
City Alderman Josh Bokee was introduced by the Mayor to provide and overview of the City’s hopes for the council. Bokee stated that he seeks BOLD ideas for the group to increase what many may believe is an already vibrant economy.
Richard Griffin and his staff outlined a detailed overview of the many positives that they have found draw new business to the City, as well as a number of real and perceived impediments to business development.
Issues like the fact that real property taxes are costing city owners up to $2.00 more per square foot than similar buildings located outside the city limits in the county. The City also has a business personal property tax, while the county does not.
Traffic congestion, lack of transit options, the City’s zoning ordinance, and its seemingly cumbersome development review process were also listed, among other things.
Clearly the City of Frederick has many attributes that have caused any number of businesses to relocate within its boundaries.
Consider Leidos Biomedical (formerly SAIC-F), Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, State Farm Insurance and AstraZeneca (formerly MedImmune) to name a few. But as the national economy has struggled to recover, many of our neighboring jurisdictions on Maryland’s outskirts have ramped up their efforts to attract business to their door steps.
Having recently served on the Economic Development Task Force in 2012 and 2013 that was appointed by the Board of County Commissioners with similar goals, it will be interesting to see how BOLD this City version is willing to be … or maybe the question will be how far the Mayor will let these EDAC-ers go?
Stay tuned … this could be fun!
The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades. He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few.