February 14, 2020

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

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich was joined by local and state officials for the official launch of Business Connect at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. Elrich said 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.
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.”

February 12, 2020

Montgomery County Police Unveil Community Opioid Prevention Trailer

County Police have officially unveiled the Community Opioid Prevention Education (COPE) Trailer. The new trailer can help loved ones identify red flags typically associated with drug abuse.

The inside of the trailer is built to resemble a bedroom and bathroom that you would typically see in homes in the County. The trailer has items that will be considered minor (yellow) and major (red) indicators that the person living in the bedroom may have a problem with opioids or other controlled dangerous substances.

A tour guide will point out the items and explain what they are, how they are used, and why they are concerning. There will be examples of different types of controlled dangerous substances such as heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and marijuana. At the conclusion of the trailer tour, participants can ask questions and get information about the County programs that assist with addiction and other drug-related illnesses.

The COPE Trailer, part of the County’s Police Department’s Community Engagement Division, which will travel to community events throughout the County. COPE is a partnership with the Opioid Intervention Team that consists of participants from the County’s Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, Fire & Rescue Services, Public Schools (MCPS) and Department of Health and Human Services.

An MCPS grant, with additional funding by the Montgomery County Police Foundation, funded the trailer purchase.

This video provides more information and gives a look inside.

Small Business Assistance Program Surpasses $1 Million Distributed in Helping Wheaton Businesses

Wheaton revitalization project
Montgomery County’s Small Business Assistance Program, which was created to provide technical and financial assistance to qualified Downtown Wheaton businesses during the three-year Wheaton Revitalization construction project, reached another milestone recently as it has distributed $1,022,287 to 23 businesses since the inception of the program. An additional $2,572 is approved for disbursement to two businesses in the near future.

More than 90 businesses in the “Wheaton Triangle” area surround a future, 14-story office building and an adjacent town square. Most have remained open during construction that began in June 2017. Those impacted by the construction have had the opportunity to apply for this innovative form of help from the County to stabilize their businesses. The building will be owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), which is relocating from Downtown Silver Spring. The additional office tenants will be County Government departments.

The project, which is overseen by the County’s Department of Transportation, is 90 percent complete and is on schedule to be close to completion in May 2020. Construction of the town square is 75 percent complete and construction of the amphitheater terracing has started.

The main occupant of the new building will be the relocated M-NCPPC. The 308,000 square-foot building seeks LEED platinum certification. Several departments including Permitting Services, Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, Recreation and Community Use of Public Facilities will call the new facility home. In addition, relocating to the new building will be the Wheaton Urban District and the Mid-County Regional Services office.

More information about the Small Business Assistance Program and the Wheaton Revitalization Project is available at here.

Montgomery County Presidential Sightings

Although some hold that the designation of Presidents Day is a celebration of George Washington’s birthday, many consider the day time to honor all U.S. presidents. Regardless, the holiday gives time to pause and reflect on our history and the impacts of our distinguished leaders.

Many presidents have visited Montgomery County throughout history. Here are some snippets of Montgomery County presidential visits:
  • Many locals call the Town of Brookville the “U.S. Capital for a Day” because President James Madison and his wife Dolley stayed in Brookville after the British troops attacked the city and set fire to the White House in 1812.
  • President John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac River, according to reports. After a long day, President Adams is said to have frequently walked several miles to enjoy an evening bath in the river. While it is unclear as to whether Adams swam from the Montgomery County shores, imagine hiking aside the Potomac and coming upon the president’s clothes hanging along the riverbank.
  • According to a Bethesda Beat article, President’s Abraham Lincoln visited Rockville in 1861, which was pivotal in keeping Maryland in the Union.
  • Montgomery County is home to a hospital, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center located in Bethesda, that has served, treated and cared for every president of the United States and their families since 1942. The Base Realignment and Closure Act merged Walter Reed with the National Naval Medical Center in 2005. The two historic, facilities became America’s first national military medical center to provide world-class medical care for injured and ill Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, their families, and retirees.
  • Sadly, President John F. Kennedy’s body was autopsied at what was then called Bethesda Naval Hospital. The facility was chosen by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy because of the presidents’ service in the Navy.
  • In 1972 Richard Nixon visited Alabama’s Governor George Wallace at Holy Cross Hospital after Wallace was shot during a campaign event in Laurel.
  • Holiday Park, one of Montgomery County Recreation’s Senior Centers, has been the site of two presidential announcements:
  • President Bill Clinton spoke about his proposed Patient Bill of Rights and officially signed the presidential directive at the same visit. Vice President Al Gore accompanied the president on this visit.
  • President Barack Obama discussed the Affordable Care Act, the week that it was first proposed, at a national tele-town meeting held at Montgomery County Recreation’s Holiday Park Senior Center.
  • President Obama was the assistant coach for his youngest daughter, Sasha’s, basketball team, which played in Montgomery County Recreation’s youth basketball league at the Jane Lawton Community Center. She played in the league for two years. Vice President Joe Biden’s granddaughter also played on the team and it was always a presidential Saturday morning when the President, Vice President, and First Lady Michelle Obama came out to cheer on the young hoop-shooting athletes.
Thanks to Ben Miller, Blair High School graduate and current sophomore at the University of Chicago, and Councilmember Gabe Albornoz for contributions to this story.

February is Library Lovers Month!

February is Library Lovers Month, and Montgomery County Libraries’ and Friends of the Library Montgomery County chapters are hosting special events and activities to showcase the value of libraries in our communities. Visit the calendar of events to see all of the free programs and activities offered at branches throughout the County.

How about this good news for library cardholders who love free access to ebooks? Montgomery County Public Libraries now has its own independent Overdrive ebook collection. This collection reflects the interests of County residents and a system that is more responsive to the user’s requests and needs. This includes greater functionality within the OverDrive app, shorter hold times, and more flexibility in services. To learn more, visit the library website.

Spring Into Fun with Montgomery County Recreation

Montgomery County Recreation (MCR) did not wait for Punxsutawney Phil to call for early spring; they were way ahead of the game in planning spring activities that are fun for the whole family.

Did you know that:
  • Pickleball is not played with a pickle; it is a racquet sport and MCR offers multiple Pickleball programs and leagues.
  • You can ride a stationary bike in the pool.
  • You can earn an internationally recognized scuba diver certification card in a scuba diving class offered by MCR.
To learn more about what is happening this spring, check out the spring issue of the Montgomery County Guide. You will find a wide variety of classes and programs designed to help participants stay active and have fun. There are offerings in aquatics, sports, therapeutic recreation services and active adult senior programming. Registration for programs and classes is underway.

Registration is available in one of four ways: online; by mail; in person at the Montgomery County Recreation Administrative Offices located at 4010 Randolph Road in Silver Spring; and by fax to 240-777-6818.

Print copies of the guide are available at recreation, aquatic and senior centers.

For online registration and to view the Guide online, visit www.mocorec.com/guide. For additional information, call Montgomery County Recreation at 240-777-6840.

Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services Whiskey Rocks Event Sets Record

Montgomery County's Alcohol Beverage Sales set a new one-day, single-store sales record of $196,250 at its Whiskey Rocks event on Friday, Jan. 17, at the Clarksburg Village Liquor and Wine Store.

The one-day event included limited release products available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis. Whiskey enthusiasts began lining up early – with the first customer arriving at 10 a.m. the day before the event. Hundreds of people were in line when the store opened. County Executive Marc Elrich and ABS Director Bob Dorfman greeted customers and employees at the store.

Throughout the day, the Whiskey Rocks celebration featured a combination of timed product releases, tastings, engravings, barrel picks, bottle signings and seminars.

The previous record of $126,226 in Whiskey Rocks net sales was set in June 2019 at the Burtonsville ABS store.

Generating approximately $35 million in profits annually, ABS profits are used to both pay off County debt, and a large portion is deposited in the Montgomery County General Fund to pay for services that tax dollars would otherwise fund.

Nominate Outstanding Volunteers for County’s Highest Award for Service

Nominations have opened for the Montgomery Serves Awards, Montgomery County's highest honor for volunteer service. This prestigious annual awards program, coordinated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, recognizes volunteer efforts in the following categories:
To nominate deserving volunteers, complete the appropriate online nomination forms by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28.

Award recipients will be honored at a gala ceremony on Monday, April 27, at Imagination Stage in Bethesda.

Few Tickets Remain for the Upcoming Civil Rights Educational Freedom Experience

The Maryland Civil Rights Educational Freedom Experience offers the opportunity to retrace the Freedom Trail. Learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro Sit-ins, Voting Rights and other significant events of the American Civil Rights Movement as you travel on a deluxe motorcoach. Other sites visited will include the Lorraine Motel, Central High School, the home of Medgar Evers and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

Register now for this nine-day trip, which takes place April 18 through 26. The registration deadline is Saturday, March 15. More information is available at the Office of Human Rights website.

February 3, 2020

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich Names Wade Holland as New Coordinator of County’s Vision Zero Program and Presents 2020 Plan

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich named Wade Holland as the new full-time coordinator of the County’s Vision Zero program. At the same time, Elrich addressed the next steps to be implemented to keep pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers safer.

The Vision Zero program is dedicated to eliminating traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.

Holland, employed with the County’s CountyStat Office for the past six years, has focused on public safety and transportation issues. For the past three years, he has served as the part-time coordinator of the County’s Vision Zero Steering Committee. He holds a Master of Public Policy Degree from American University, with a specialty in advanced policy analysis.

The Vision Zero Steering Committee, consisting of representatives from a variety of County departments and agencies, has created and implemented the 2020 Vision Zero Action Plan. The plan was built with input from key Vision Zero departments to continue implementing roadway improvements and coordinate education and enforcement campaigns.

Learn more about Vision Zero Action Plan.