During the September Legislative Session, Howard County Councilmember Jon Weinstein introduced Council Resolution 119-2017 (or CR119-2017). If approved, Howard County would create an Economic Opportunity and Prosperity Task Force to identify and study policies, programs and potential legislation to facilitate economic growth and increase economic opportunities for individuals, businesses, and organizations in Howard County. Details about CR119, and the proposed mission of the Task Force, can be found here.
In proposing CR119, Mr. Weinstein talked about the need for businesses, governmental and community organizations to address the issues of business development and workforce support in a variety of ways, noting that all will benefit from a more comprehensive, collaborative approach. He also talked about business sector growth, workforce development, housing, transportation and education as some of the areas critical in creating “pathways to economic prosperity” for both individuals and businesses in Howard County. I agree with this approach, and believe that the Task Force, and those working with this group, can develop the type of holistic solutions that could position the County, its citizens, and businesses to be successful in the future.
As a member of the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee (SAAC), I’ve spent the past three years studying in detail the County’s fiscal situation. In the SAAC Fiscal Year 2018 Report that was submitted to the County Executive, we specifically called for the County “to seek opportunities to leverage resources to attract businesses, increase support for entrepreneurship, innovation, and small business programs to diversify the employment base.” By increasing the commercial base, we a) increase our tax base, which funds operating budgets for critical functions such as our schools, libraries, and law enforcement, as well as capital needs and b) provide opportunities for employment for our residents, especially in the higher-wage, longer-term jobs cited in CR119. It is my hope that the work of this Task Force will lead to innovative solutions to expand our commercial base, leading to greater opportunities for all, but especially those that have yet to benefit from today’s global economy.
While Howard County faces many challenges, I still believe it’s a great place to live and conduct business. Going forward, I believe that our County will be at its best when it can foster and promote an atmosphere that allows its businesses to be successful, while supporting all of its citizens, especially those in the most need. CR119-2017 provides the potential for our County to strike such a balance; as such, I support this resolution, and encourage the members of the County Council to support it as well.
As always, please feel free to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, etc. Also, please join me in extending thoughts, prayers and strength to the victims of this morning’s horrific shooting in Las Vegas, and thanks to those first responders that put their lives on the line to bring an end to this senseless act of violence. May our hearts go out to the Vegas community as they begin the process of recovery.