Howard County Executive Calvin Ball noted Howard County’s unemployment rate for November dropped to 4.9%, down from 5.7% in October. Howard County reached a peak unemployment rate of 8.1% in April 2020 and has seen that decrease steadily since then. Howard County has also seen an overall decrease in weekly unemployment claims since this Spring. Prior to the pandemic in February 2020, Howard County recorded an unemployment rate of 2.7%, one of the lowest in Maryland.
“Howard County continues to be an ideal location for many emerging technology companies and entrepreneurs from all sectors – people want to live, work, and stay here,” said Ball. “We’ve seen many indicators that in the long-term we will continue to be an economic engine in Central Maryland. Howard County has proven repeatedly – we are resilient. This pandemic has brought along devasting economic impacts to our community, and as our numbers show we’re not immune to these challenges. Today there are a lot more of our neighbors out of work compared to last year, that’s why our team has been working diligently to ensure our residents have the resources they need – food assistance, help with their rent or mortgage, and other vital support services.”
Recent announcements of job creation in Howard County include:
· New consolidated headquarters of KBR consisting of 350 high paying tech jobs with an additional 48 new jobs in Maple Lawn.
· Savage based prepared meals company, Freshly, has quickly grown, to a staff of 821 employees since opening in the fall of 2019 with 500 employees.
· TJ Maxx agreed to lease 205,306 sq. ft. distribution facility in Jessup
· Cavalier Logistics expanded to a second location in Howard County with 87,000 sq. ft. and 12 employees for additional cold room storage capacity.
· Cleary Packaging and its 25 employees relocated into 33,000 sq. ft. of space in Savage where they plan to continue to grow the business.
· Long Home Products relocated to its new Savage Mill headquarters, the $7.7 million capital investment in the 50,000 sq. Ft. facility provides a comfortable and productive environment for the growing company’s 150+ employees.
The Howard County Economic Development Authority has consolidated business support and employee resources since March in an online portal, including reopening guidelines and compliance, business assistance programs, health and safety guidelines and more.
Through his HoCo RISE initiative, Ball has allocated $11 million in CARES Act funding to restaurants, agriculture, child care establishments and hotels. In September, Ball allocated more than $750,000 in CARES Act funding to live venues and local artists and non-profits.
“While the pandemic has impacted many of our small businesses and we have worked to lend support to them, we continue our work to foster business expansion and attract projects across several industry sectors which may provide job opportunities for our residents,” said Larry Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority.
Last month, the County Executive announced emergency legislation to provide $6.5 million in County funds towards pandemic aid, including:
· $2 million for the Howard County Economic Development Authority to issue additional grants and low interest loans;
· $1 million for Howard County General Hospital to continue creating infrastructure for additional bed capacity;
· $1 million in housing assistance to prevent evictions and foreclosures;
· $1 million for food and utility bill assistance;
· And $1.5 million for extension of vital educational support and childcare programs like HoCo Scholars and RecZone.
The County Executive will be providing a larger outlook on the Howard County economy during his annual State of the Business address, which will be a virtual event on February 24th. County Executive Ball will also participate in a live question and answer session with Howard County Chamber President Leonardo McClarty. More information on the address and how to register can be found here.
“The latest unemployment data is pleasant news and is a testament to the hard work and perseverance of our employers and business owners,” said Leonardo McClarty, President/CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. “It also speaks to the collaboration and partnership taking place between private industry, government, and the nonprofit community.”
If you are currently unemployed, seeking a job or need to upgrade your skills, the Office of Workforce Development has resources and support online at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/County-Administration/Workforce-Development or they may be reached at 410-290-2620.
“Unemployment, due to the pandemic, seems to have hit those individuals who were working in lower wage jobs the hardest,” said Francine Trout, Administrator of the Office of Workforce Development. “The Office of Workforce Development is here to assist our residents with transitioning into new employment. Our full array of services includes: individual career counseling, job search preparation, virtual job fairs, and possibly occupational skills training.”
Additional resources for residents in need, including food, rent, and other assistance, can be found online at StayCOVIDSafe.howardcountymd.gov