On January 24th, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball delivered the 2nd Annual Howard County “State of Business” address virtually to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. Ball noted the economic challenges and uncertainty Howard County faces in the upcoming year but also highlighted the quick actions and relief efforts through the HoCo RISE Business grants to support local businesses and additional steps to take on the road to recovery. Photos of the event can be found here. Video of the event can be watched here.
“We know that the road to recovery from this pandemic will be a long process, but there is much we can do to reignite our economy and get people back to work,” said Ball. “With business relief grants, our local business initiative, and innovative tools to make owning and operating a business in Howard County easier, we’re working together to make sure the Howard County continues to have a strong and prosperous business community.”
Ball also emphasized his administration’s commitment to including more local businesses in the County’s procurement process. He noted that in FY2018, the County spent $4 million with local businesses, and in FY2020, it spent more than $16 million, with a 56 percent increase over last year.
Additionally, he announced the Restaurant Wizard, an online tool that will consolidate permitting information from the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits; the Department of Planning and Zoning; and the Health Department. The tool will help prospective restaurant owners quickly identify what permitting is needed for their specific situation, making it an easier process overall.
County Executive Ball also highlighted current forecasts predicting job growth, particularly in the professional and business services sectors, that will drive demand for additional commercial space over the next 20 years. He noted the County needs to invest in commercial growth over the coming years to meet an estimated 59,000 jobs added to the county by 2040.
The event also featured an update on Long Reach Rising, the revitalization of the Long Reach Village Center, in Columbia. Following his remarks, Ball sat down with Chamber of Commerce President, Leonardo McClarty. They discussed the Howard County General Plan, HoCo By Design, affordable housing and expanding transportation options, increasing internet access, and ongoing support for small businesses.
“The Howard County Chamber is appreciative of the partnership we have with County Executive Ball and his office,” said Leonardo McClarty, President/CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. “We know there are challenges ahead of us, but Howard County is fortunate to have a dedicated and committed business community and we stand ready to work with Dr. Ball as he works to advance economic development in the county.”
“The County Executive’s review of accomplishments over this past year highlighted the resiliency and progress of our business community during this most trying time,” said Larry Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. “But highlighting the Authority’s Maryland Innovation Center demonstrates that under the Executive’s leadership our economic development efforts are looking ahead, focused on small business support, entrepreneurship to grow jobs and to provide opportunity for the community.”