Skip to main content

Press Releases

County Executive Elrich, State and County Leaders Say They Are Committed to Building a 21st Century Economy at Launch of Business Connect in Bethesda

For Immediate Release: Friday, February 14, 2020

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich today told a group of County and business leaders that he is focused on building a 21st century economy that will help the County maintain its leadership position in the State, while being more competitive in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. 

At the launch of Business Connect at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, Elrich welcomed new Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) President and CEO Ben Wu.

“Ben was the right choice for this position,” said Elrich. “We need somebody who is focused on economic development and I think we have got that now. Our priorities are to give Montgomery County a 21st century economy and we need a 21st century government, which is why we are opening Business Connect hubs around the County. We want to make sure our small businesses have the opportunity to start and grow in Montgomery County. Business Connect provides them with access to resources, training, and programs that help strengthen the small business community.”

Elrich also touted the number of entrepreneurs in Montgomery County.

“We have more entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, than anywhere else in the region,” Elrich said. “That is a little-known fact that the people should be aware of. In fact, the income of Montgomery entrepreneurs is twice the regional average.  That’s why we want more entrepreneurs to come here and grow their businesses.”

Elrich was joined by Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, Wu, County Council President Sidney Katz, County Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Hans Riemer and Will Jawando, Visit Montgomery CEO and President Kelly Groff,  Rockville Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Ed Harrington, Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Andy Stern and the County’s business resource partners for the official launch of Business Connect in Bethesda. All of the leaders indicated that economic and business development is a top priority for Montgomery County and the State.

The Business Connect program is an initiative designed to grow and nurture small businesses in the County. The program, launched in 2019, offers classes, counseling, and connections for businesses ​in the communities where they are located. Services are now available in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase regional area as well as East County, Silver Spring and Upcounty and plans are in the works to expand to the Mid-County regional services area. From May 2019 to Jan. 2020, Business Connect has offered 56 classes, 637 hours of counseling, and 791 connections for businesses to County resources.

The addition of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase regional area to the Business Connect program will help the County grow more small businesses in an area that is going through a development renaissance led by the future Purple Line and new Marriott headquarters.

Both Elrich and Wu described the County as the economic engine of the State, noting the County’s gross domestic product (GDP) represented 25 percent of the state’s GDP in 2018. The County is home to more than 40 companies on Inc. Magazine’s 2019 Inc. 5000: The Most Successful Companies in America, and three of those companies are in the top 100.

Wu, who recently joined the MCEDC after serving as deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce, introduced the new members of his team and emphasized the level of experience and expertise that each of them bring to Montgomery County.  Wu outlines the key areas MCEDC would be working are opportunity zones, bio-tech, building a tech workforce and more.

“I’m pleased to join with our business community, County and State officials to declare that Montgomery County is fully committed to growing the economy and creating opportunities for our residents and workforce,” said Wu. “MCEDC is taking a lead role in keeping companies here and helping new County entities start and grow—from cutting edge gene therapy to fast-growing business services. We are working closely with our partners in education, the private sector and all levels of government to ensure Montgomery County remains a strong economic engine for our State.”

Schulz applauded the County’s efforts to be more business friendly and expressed how important it is for the State to work with local jurisdictions so that all businesses feel that the government is working with them.

“Any way that government can streamline its processes and services can help Maryland companies reduce the cost of doing business and spend more time focusing on their customers,” said Schulz. “Initiatives like the ones being implemented by Montgomery County Government, as well as the state’s Maryland Business Express and Regional Resources Teams, promote inter-agency cooperation that benefits our business community."   Katz provided an update on the 4Business initiative, which has included six listening sessions, an online survey, and two charrettes. Over 450 people have provided input and deploying the Business Connect program strategically around the County is a direct result of the 4Business initiative.

“County Executive Elrich and I launched the 4Business initiative because we want businesses to locate, grow and prosper in Montgomery County,” said Katz. “We understand to build the economy of the future, our policies and systems must reflect business expectations of today and well into the future.  I believe that we are creating a roadmap for Montgomery County that will ensure we continue to be the economic engine, not just for the State of Maryland, but for the Washington Metropolitan Region.”

For more information about Business Connect and the 4Business initiative, visit the County’s website. Follow Montgomery County on Twitter and Facebook.  

# # #

 

Release ID: 20-054
Media Contact: Barry Hudson 240-777-6528 , Barry.Hudson@montgomerycountymd.gov