It is great to be back in Montgomery County after spending two weeks in India and Vietnam on an economic development mission to find new companies to do business here and new opportunities for current Montgomery County companies. I want to thank County Council President Evan Glass and members of our economic development team for joining the trip.
We traveled with 32 delegates, including 27 business community representatives and community leaders.
During this economic trade mission, we signed 11 Memorandum-of-Understandings (MOU) with companies interested in expanding here. We expect to sign two more soon. The MOUs are with companies committing to open an office or establish operations in Montgomery County.
In exchange, we will provide international soft-landing support. This is similar to support we offer local businesses who enroll in our business incubator and innovation programs. It guides them on how to follow our local and State regulations and helps them establish connections to grow without expensive steps like leasing land.
We have seen companies grow from the incubator stage into large operations responsible for millions of dollars in revenue and job growth. Some of these international companies will be able use money from Maryland’s Global Gateway grant to get started.
On the trip there were many 14-hour days filled with meetings and tours of businesses, incubators and lab space. People in India and Vietnam were very gracious. The trip provided business leaders that joined us with opportunities to network and establish connections to find things like new suppliers and investment partners. These connections are mutually beneficial. I want to thank our corporate partners for helping make this trip a success.
A lot of our focus was on IT and bio-tech companies, but we had meaningful discussions about bringing manufacturing here as well. These visits provided us with numerous opportunities to attract new companies to the County and provide expansion and growth opportunities to our current County businesses in the countries we visited. These potential deals will lead to economic growth and will create more jobs.
In India and Vietnam, it was clear that they see Montgomery County as one of the top spots for their businesses in the United States. They are attracted to our talented workforce, a high level of education among our residents and proximity to Federal and private partners.
There was a lot of interest in the potential of our new University of Maryland Institute for Health Computing that will be formed around the North Bethesda Metro Station and will provide a graduate level research facility for our life sciences industry.
Those we met also were attracted to the cultural diversity of residents and businesses and our reputation for being a safe and welcoming community. It was a very busy—but very productive—two weeks in India and Vietnam. I look forward to providing updates on our progress.
Security Camera Rebate Program Launches
Montgomery County has launched the Police-Private Security Camera Incentive Program to help people in high-priority areas qualify for rebates on the cost of new security cameras. The program will provide up to $250 for households installing one camera or up to $1,250 for five cameras for businesses and nonprofits in the priority areas.
When I signed this bill into law in the summer of 2022, we wanted to give investigators more resources for solving crimes that occur in areas with fewer security cameras. The County Council provided more than $250,000 in funding for this program, meaning more than 1,000 cameras can be purchased through the program this year.
The County Police Department was asked to develop public safety indicators to help determine which areas to prioritize.
Through the MCPD website, you can interact with the map (see above) showing zones that have been approved for camera rebates this year. Many Gaithersburg, Germantown and Montgomery Village addresses qualify for rebates. The program also will help in select areas of North Bethesda, Wheaton and Downtown Silver Spring. Smaller communities like Olney, Damascus and tracts along Highway 29 also will benefit.
At my weekly media briefing, Police Department Lt. Dan Helton said as cameras are installed, it will likely open up other areas to qualify for the rebate program.
Reimbursements will only be paid for new cameras. Installation and maintenance costs will not be covered. Information about qualifying for the rebate visit montgomerycountymd.gov/security-camera-rebate or call 311.
Updated Park Montgomery Apartments Groundbreaking
It is always exciting to come together with community partners and celebrate new affordable housing in Montgomery County. I got that opportunity on Thursday at the groundbreaking for the Park Montgomery West redevelopment.
The Park Montgomery apartments in Silver Spring on Piney Branch Road are tower apartments that were built in 1971. The existing 15-story building with 141 units will be renovated and a new building with a newly constructed garage underneath will add 76 additional units. All 217 units will serve families earning between 30 and 60 percent of area median income. The County facilitated $10.6 million in financing along with a reduction in local taxes for the project. Total costs on the project are estimated to be $98.8 million.
The only way to ensure the affordability of so many units at one property is by getting a lot of help. The State's Community Development Administration and our Department of Housing and Community Affairs worked together to help secure 28 federal housing choice vouchers to pay for some of the upgrades. Low Income Housing Tax Credits were also used to pay for a portion of the project. Finally, there were several partners like Enterprise Community Development, Bellweather Enterprise and Bank of America that were important partners in updating this property and providing stability for renters.
Our County is also investing money to make sure residents get new energy efficient appliances and lighting along with water conserving fixtures and new safety measures like fire sprinklers. Around one-third of the renovated units will be three-bedroom apartments. In a few years, these apartments will be a quarter mile away from a Purple Line station. It is important to think about factors like that when considering how to invest public money to get the most out of our affordable housing efforts.
Historical Markers Unveiled
I attended a ceremony last weekend that paid tribute to two of the three Black men killed by lynching in Montgomery County history. The County installed historical markers outside of the County Council Building in Rockville in their honor.
This was the second ceremony in the last month held by the County’s Commission on Remembrance and Reconciliation. A few weeks ago, another historical marker was installed for George Peck. It is believed that Mr. Peck was attacked in a field and killed near Poolesville.
The latest ceremony and markers honor John Diggs-Dorsey and Sidney Randolph, two men who were taken from the County’s jail in Rockville before they were killed in 1880 and 1896, respectively.
While these are painful subjects and stories to recall, it is important to recognize what occurred in our County. Raising awareness helps put our social and cultural challenges with race into perspective. We cannot expect to reconcile the past without first admitting what has occurred here in the place we call home. Education and understanding are essential for true progress in our fight against hatred, discrimination and injustice.
I appreciate the efforts of our Commission on Remembrance and Reconciliation for these markers and events. The markers will help our community acknowledge the past and learn from it. I encourage you to view these markers the next time you are near the Council Office Building on Maryland Avenue in Rockville.
The dedication of the markers offers our community an opportunity to commemorate the painful history of racially-motivated lynchings, remember the lives lost to racial violence and work toward a better future. Here is a look at other activities that tie into Remembrance and Reconciliation Month.
America Recycles Day
I was excited this week to join County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Director Jon Monger to celebrate America Recycles Day.
We are celebrating this year that our processing facility and transfer station in Shady Grove has expanded what items can brought in for recycling. In addition to the traditional plastic, metal, glass and aluminum cans, residents can now find a solution for unwanted electronics, bicycles, mattresses and building materials in usable condition.
This is an important change because we are expanding our ability to salvage items that can be reused such as:
- Old medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers and hospital beds are now being accepted and repaired if necessary for second use.
- Old bikes are available for anyone who likes to tinker and get them moving again.
- Old mattresses are being stripped and everything they are made from is finding a new purpose. Since we launched mattress recycling in May, 211 tons have been diverted from landfills.
- Electronics recycling has been even more successful with 907 tons collected.
When I visited California in October, I spent two days touring multiple municipal solid waste facilities in San Francisco and San Jose. There were lessons to be learned from those visits that are worth exploring and implementing here. These include converting food waste into methane to power trucks and buses or to generate electricity.
Coming up with innovative solutions will help us reduce the need for landfills and our incinerator, both of which work against our Climate Action Plan.
Over the past three years, DEP reports recycling per person in our County has increased. Besides reducing trash, recycling also can keep hazardous materials that come from things like old batteries from seeping into the ground and waterways. Products like paint, automotive fluids and household cleaners are accepted daily at the transfer station.
Re-use also reduces the demand for energy, minimizes the extraction of raw materials and lowers greenhouse gas emissions at multiple points in the lifecycle of a product. This makes recycling an essential practice in the collective effort to combat climate change and ensure a sustainable future for the planet.
If you are not already recycling, please consider doing it. If you are already recycling some items, consider if more things you throw in the trash could be recycled. Visit the County’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle website for other ideas and information about becoming a recycling volunteer.
Preparing for Small Business Saturday
We don't want to look past an important date on our calendar: Small Business Saturday is November 25. It started with a nationwide effort to give small businesses across the nation a platform to promote themselves and kick off the holiday shopping season.
Over the last few years, I've taken the opportunity to visit many small businesses across Montgomery County to help energize an important day for retailers and learn more about small businesses in our area. This year, I plan on visiting businesses in Gaithersburg and Rockville to hand out certificates of appreciation.
I encourage everyone to support our local small businesses and keep money in Montgomery County. You can follow my social media channels on X and Facebook to see which small businesses we are highlighting. We are thanksful for all small businesses this holiday.
Montgomery County Celebrates Diwali
Thousands of people across Montgomery County celebrated Diwali this week. Ceremonies for the Hindu Festival of Lights have become an annual tradition and are always well attended in Montgomery County, where Hindus account for approximately one percent of our population. I was happy to welcome this year’s Diwali ceremony here at the County Executive’s Office Thursday night and watch the community continue some time-honored traditions, honoring the celebration of good over evil.
I also want to thank Governor Wes Moore and Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller for taking part in another celebration on Monday at the Universities at Shady Grove. It shows how diverse our County is and celebrates a community that has thrived and found success here.
To those celebrating, may this Diwali bring you joy, peace and good fortune.
Thanksgiving Day Parade on Saturday
As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to wish you an early Happy Thanksgiving. You can get in the spirit with the annual Thanksgiving Parade starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, in Downtown Silver Spring.
The parade involves hundreds of people from Montgomery County and draws thousands of people for the only Thanksgiving parade in our region. The parade begins at Ellsworth Drive. Streets along the parade path including a section of Georgia Avenue will be closed through at least noon to accommodate the crowds, floats and marching bands. You can learn more about what to expect by following this link.
And since the we are talking about Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take advantage of the many pharmacies now offering flu and COVID-19 shots together. The virus is still with us, and while it currently poses a low community risk, the more that we are around each other this holiday, the more likely it is to spread. Getting both vaccines offers a layer of protection that can keep you from getting seriously ill. Those vaccines also can help protect family members you see over the holiday. Visit vaccines.gov to find a provider near you.
As always, my appreciation for all of you,