A Montgomery County-created nonprofit charged with retaining and attracting businesses has its first ever president, a move officials hope can kickstart a business development effort some say is lagging.
The Council created the quasi-public Montgomery Business Development Corporation as a board of local business leaders in 2010, but last week announced the hiring of Holly Sears as its full-time president.
Money for that position was added to the program recently, in the same period of time multiple reports chronicled the stark contrasts between job growth in Montgomery and neighboring Fairfax County, long viewed as a competitor for new businesses.
In March, the Washington Business Journal reported Fairfax spent around $7 million in business development in the last year and saw 8,765 new jobs. In that same period, Montgomery County spent $6.25 million and saw 556 new jobs.
Sears, who will start after the Thanksgiving holiday, previously served as the Vice President of Economic Development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, near Nashville, Tenn.
A county press release announcing the hiring said Sears recruited and negotiated more than $6 billion in capital investments there in her seven-year tenure.
The MBDC’s website still lists retired schools Superintendent Jerry Weast and departed Planning Department Director Rollin Stanley as non-voting members. There are no projects or resources listed on the site.
Meanwhile, Fairfax County, which has a county-funded but more independent Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, has attempted to expand its reach. The FCEDA has offices in Los Angeles, Bangalore, London, Munich, Seoul and Tel Aviv.
Montgomery officials have said international offices are not practical financially and that state economic development offices can do the job.
Today, County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) declined to say the county was lagging its neighbors in attracting the type of large corporations that is spurring development in Fairfax.
Bethesda is home to a number of major companies (including Lockheed Martin and Marriot) and fast-growing start-ups.
“We need to do more and we need the business community’s guidance,” Berliner said. “One of the models that Fairfax uses is to have an independent development corporation. We don’t. The MBDC is sort of a hybrid approach. We retain our authority but we have the advice and counsel of business leaders. So we’re trying to have, if you will, the best of both worlds and hopefully with this new president we’ll achieve that.”
Flickr photo by kgunnar
The Town of Chevy Chase Council discussed the idea in its meeting last week. Town manager Todd Hoffman said the concept is still in a conceptual stage, with a final determination on whether to establish the service still ahead.
The Council will likely discuss it again at its December meeting and if it decides to go ahead, a public hearing would be held.
“We’re still trying to gather data and trying to gauge if we did it, how long a contract it would be,” Hoffman said. “Maybe it would just be a short-term test to see if people really use it.”
The Town will also look at results from a recent community survey that asked residents whether they’d use a shuttle service to and from downtown Bethesda.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership, the county-funded nonprofit in charge of maintaining and marketing Bethesda, took over operation of a similar shuttle service within downtown Bethesda in 2006 and a few years ago upgraded it with new vehicles to start the Bethesda Circulator.
It includes stops in Woodmont Triangle, the Bethesda Metro station and Bethesda Row, a north-to-south route that does not cross Wisconsin Avenue.
One of the closest Circulator stops to the Town of Chevy Chase is in Bethesda Row, at the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues, which requires a walk through the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel to Elm Street Park.
Bethesda Urban Partnership’s annual Winter Wonderland is coming to Imagination Stage and Veterans Park on the weekend of Dec. 1, a two-day event that includes a concert and the always popular ice sculpting display.
The concert, on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. at Imagination Stage (4908 Auburn Ave.), features the American University Gospel Choir, Georgetown University’s The Capital G’s, the University of Maryland’s Faux Paz group and D.C.-based a cappella group Tonic and Gin.
For more information and tickets, vist the event website.
The ice sculpting presentation will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 in Veterans Park, at the intersection of Woodmont and Norfolk Avenues. The celebration includes a Santa Claus for the kids and a student concert featuring students from five local school choir groups.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) is a county-funded nonprofit charged with marketing and maintaining downtown Bethesda, a task that includes putting on events such as the Winter Wonderland and the Taste of Bethesda.
Photo via Bethesda Urban Partnership
B-CC Girls Soccer Loses In Bid For Fifth Straight State Title — The Barons led 1-0 Friday night until opponent South Lake scored in the 73rd minute and won in a penalty kick shootout. B-CC finished the season with a 13-4-0 record. [The Gazette]
East-West Highway Office Building Has No Tenants — In the already hurting office market, the developer of a East-West Highway office building that broke ground last week will start building a rare speculative project with no committed tenants. The company does have $100 million worth of financing, about half of the total cost. [Washington Post]
Bethesda Row Cinema Gets Alcohol License — The Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners on Thursday granted the popular Bethesda Row movie theater a Class B beer, wine and liquor license that will allow it to sell alcohol to patrons. [The Gazette]
Flickr photo by maxfisher
A Red Cross Bloodmobile caught fire last night while traveling on River Road, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services.
A Hazmat team was on the scene and “removing contents,” from the vehicle, according to Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Capt. Scott Graham.
There were no injuries. There was no apparent cause of the fire as of last night, Graham said.
The incident and clean-up closed both directions of River Road between Wilson Lane and Beach Tree Road for much of the night. Police diverted drivers going to and coming from the nearby Beltway into surrounding neighborhoods.