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Montgomery County Executive Elrich, Council President Katz and Business Leaders Announce COVID Economic Recovery Roadmap

For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 12, 2020

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council President Sidney Katz and Montgomery County Economic Advisory Group (EAG) Chair Doug Firstenberg today announced a pandemic Economic Roadmap to Recovery and Long-Term Success that will guide the County’s recovery efforts going forward. The EAG has been meeting since July and is a key component of the County’s overall Recovery Framework.

County Executive Elrich conceived the EAG and assembled a diverse group of over 30 business leaders who represent large, small and minority businesses from critical industries such as hospitality, bio and life sciences, banking, information technology and healthcare. The cross section of business leaders is providing critical input as the County plans for recovery from the COVID-19 health crisis. 

“I want to thank this diverse group of business leaders who have taken the time to provide thoughtful recommendations,” said County Executive Elrich. “They are helping us focus on long-term efforts the County should pursue that will position us to successfully recover from the pandemic and take advantage of our assets. We knew we could not wait until the pandemic ends to begin this work. For us to move forward will require involvement and engagement from our business community, the Economic Development Corporation, our nonprofits and our workforce development partners. I look forward to working together on the roadmap toward a more equitable and inclusive economy for Montgomery County.”

The EAG announced four key objectives as the foundation for this long-term strategic effort for the County:

  • Developing and retaining a skilled talent pipeline for businesses, including offering retraining opportunities.
  • Reimagining economic development to compete in the future through improved governmental processes that support business growth and expansion, development and transportation infrastructure growth and expanding housing at all income levels.
  • Addressing awareness of, access to and availability of capital to help existing enterprises succeed and attract new business investment.
  • Supporting key industry sectors that are critical to the County’s economy and quality of life, including restaurants, entertainment and hospitality.

“It has been my pleasure to serve alongside the many prominent business leaders who have served on this Economic Advisory Group,” said Council President Katz. “My involvement in the economic success of our County is longstanding—both as a small-business owner and as the Council leader during the 4Business Initiative. It is so important that while we tackle the enormity of the economic crisis brought on by the global pandemic, that we also focus on our post-COVID strategic economic recovery planning. The EAG is doing just that and the future benefits of this work will help us pivot, rebound, and once again succeed. “

The group, whose chair, Firstenberg, is a principal with Stonebridge, began meeting in July to create a plan that would focus on recovery from COVID-related economic damage.

“It has been a pleasure to collaborate with so many dedicated members of our County’s public and private sector community on these important recommendations,” said Chair Firstenberg. “We have an opportunity to transform our challenged economic base and slow business growth into an environment that helps with the COVID-related recovery, while laying the foundation to build a strong, resilient and diverse economic base that will benefit all County residents—both today and for generations to come.”

EAG members Ronald T. Piervincenzi, CEO of US Pharmacopeia (USP), and Angela Graham, president and CEO of Quality Biological, provided additional insight on the importance of the County’s plan for recovery.

"Montgomery County's location at the crossroads of global health industry leaders and relevant federal agencies positions us to serve as a strategic brain trust in the fight against COVID-19, and as a hub for innovation well into the future,” said Dr. Piervincenzi. "We stand ready and eager to marshal these unique resources in service to the nation and the world.”

The EAG made important recommendations, including ones to replace impact taxes with development districts and to create a postgraduate research center at White Flint. Work on the research center has already started. The report also acknowledges that the County’s greatest housing needs are for people earning below the median income. One of the immediate actions recommended in the roadmap is a four-week “Bio Boot camp” that is designed to help retrain out-of-work residents and provide businesses with the workforce they need. 

"We have an opportunity to not just fill an important workforce need, but also to lay the groundwork for a long-term talent pipeline that supports the needs of existing businesses and assists in attracting new companies to Montgomery County,” said Ms. Graham. “The EAG roadmap provides near and long-term goals and serves as a foundation to create a transformative economic development strategy designed to help the County reach its full potential by building on its assets.”

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Release ID: 20-691
Media Contact: Barry Hudson 240-300-7348