March 29, 2024

Message from the County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

Our State and our nation mourn for the families of those killed in in this week’s deadly bridge collapse in Baltimore caused by a ship hitting the bridge. Our thoughts are with our friends, fellow Marylanders and all those impacted by this horrific situation.

Just hours into the response, President Joe Biden spoke about the tragedy and the importance of the port is to our nation. He pledged financial support to rebuild the bridge quickly. It is the largest shipping hub in the U.S. for automobiles and the 11th largest overall. 

We have also received constant updates from Maryland Governor Wes Moore since Monday morning on the urgency of the situation. A workforce of 8,000 people who directly depend on the reopening of Baltimore Harbor need our support. If you would like to contribute to the Key Bridge Emergency Response Fund, visit the Baltimore Civic Fund website.

I am glad that we have seen strong leadership at all levels of government in response to this emergency. Let’s hope for the continued safety of everyone involved in the recovery effort.

Economic Development and Environment Primary Focus of Trip to Taiwan

I was in Taiwan last week and was joined by County Council Vice President Kate Stewart, the director of the County’s Department of Environmental Protection Jon Monger and Judy Costello, a County special projects manager for business matters specializing in innovation and economic development. 

You can see pictures from our trip on Montgomery County’s Flickr page.

This is the second year that I was invited to speak at the Smart City Summit and Expo about the County’s climate action initiatives, and we again used the trip to also focus on economic development opportunities. We met with companies and academic institutions interested in expanding into the U.S. market and locating in Montgomery County.   

The companies we met with were particularly interested in Maryland’s Soft Landing Program for Foreign Companies. The biotech companies and the universities were particularly interested in our new University of Maryland Institute for Health Computing in North Bethesda. 

While visiting with government leaders, including the mayors of Taipei and New Taipei City, I was able to see how communications and technology are being used to improve the lives of their residents.  

We once again met several academic and government leaders who have lived in Montgomery County or studied in Maryland. They spoke highly of how the Asian community is treated and welcomed here. Our highly educated and diverse workforce, plus our location near the nation’s capital and many federal agencies, is valued by business leaders overseas.  

I believe this latest trip will lead to more economic opportunities as happened after our economic development missions last year to India, Taiwan and Vietnam. This week, I met with one businessman from Taiwan who told me how excited he is to participate in one of the County’s business incubators in Rockville. I look forward to seeing these connections turn into new jobs and opportunities.

April is ‘Earth Month’

Montgomery County’s theme for our “Earth Month” activities, events and communications in April is “Act Now.” Those are two simple words that demand immediate attention and action.   

I have been an activist on behalf of our climate for more than half a century and have been saying “Act Now” for quite a while.

Local governments are on the front lines of defense against the impacts of climate change. We are doing this through investments, through policies and, most importantly, through action. The County continues to expand waste reduction and recycling programs and to modernize our recycling facility at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station in Derwood to ensure it is efficient and user-friendly. Our goal is to dramatically reduce our waste stream and monetize that waste stream by recovering as much as possible and finding uses for those materials.

We are also working to make our buildings and transportation less of a burden on the environment. Our Department of Environmental Protection has been gearing up for the tracking of energy use and planning for energy improvements that will take place eventually in more than 1,900 buildings countywide. We also are transitioning our bus fleet from fossil fuel-based to solar-powered electric and green hydrogen.  

We are making progress locally, but climate change continues to be a real, human-made, significant threat to the continuation of our species and way of life. We remain in a climate crisis and frankly, conditions continue to worsen beyond the early projections of what might happen. Predictions made in the past about the oceans rising by inches have been proven wrong. We are now seeing those actual measurements made in feet.

Governments like ours are forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars yearly in response to the damage done by major fossil fuel companies and more than 100 years of unsustainable behavior.

The really sad thing is that the executives of the fossil fuel industry lied about what they knew about climate change, going back more than 40 years. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince people that there was nothing to worry about, attacking and discrediting scientists who were discovering what Exxon and other oil companies had already learned from their scientists. 

Instead of acting responsibly, the fossil fuel companies insisted that consumers could go on as before, even though their own studies showed that there was a lot to worry about. Now they take no responsibility for the disaster they created, and residents have to pick up the tab. Unless and until there is the political will to require that these companies bear the cost of our mitigation efforts, residents here and throughout the country are stuck with the growing cost of fixing things. It is not fair, but we are faced with no choice but to use our own resources to address the problems that these companies created.

Last year, the journal, Science, published research from Exxon’s own scientists and compared it to what has occurred over time. The analysis (charted above) demonstrated as far back as 1977 Exxon knew the long-term impacts of climate change, but the company continued to cast doubt long after that.

Our ability as a community to work together to fight climate change is imperative. All of you who have seen the increased flooding here in the County are experiencing the climate consequences firsthand, and our large investments in stormwater control will continue to grow as we have to expand the capacity of our sewer system to control stormwater.  

In short, we have to deal with climate change on two fronts. We have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to lessen future impacts, and we have to invest in mitigating the impacts we are already experiencing. Had this country and other nations responded a decade or more ago to what we were told was going to happen, we might have avoided the need for mitigation at this point and averted some really bad future outcomes. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

In many respects, Montgomery County has taken the lead in combatting climate change. We have made monumental steps forward through our Climate Action Plan, but there is still a long way to go to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035.

We need more company on this journey. Montgomery County alone will not be able to roll back climate change. Strategies need to be implemented at the national level and efforts by the State and Federal governments are a welcome step in the right direction. As they would have said in my logic class, the steps are necessary, but not sufficient at this point.

As we begin Earth Month on Monday, I encourage everyone to get involved and discover what can be done to be carbon-neutral at home.

I am looking forward to our Department of Environmental Protection’s “GreenFest 2024” event on Saturday, April 27, at the Blackrock Center for the Arts in Germantown. It is the largest annual environmental festival in the County. It brings together the public and our nonprofit partners to celebrate, learn and act to help us make this a greener County.

This year’s Energy Summit is being held on April 15 and 16 in Silver Spring. It is an excellent opportunity for business and community leaders to learn the latest about energy efficiency, renewable energy and much more.

Visit to sign up and learn more about the Energy Summit. The County and our vibrant businesses and organizations also are hosting many other engaging and inspiring Earth Month activities that you can join and enjoy.

New Chapter for Sodexo

We celebrated the ribbon cutting this week of Sodexo’s new North American headquarters in North Bethesda.

Sodexo is one of the world’s largest employers with 435,000 people on the payroll worldwide. The company, which handles catering, facilities management and employee benefits for 80 million consumers every day, had been in Gaithersburg for the last 26 years. This move shows how times are changing and corporate needs are evolving.

The development is centered in the heart of a growing area populated by world-class corporations and serviced by Metro, Ride On and other forms of modality.

The County is proud to have Sodexo. We appreciate its commitment to Montgomery County with this investment and its continued support of our community. The group Montgomery County Business Leaders Fighting Hunger launched eight years ago. Company leaders from Sodexo and Burness founded it to tackle hunger issues. They led the effort to fund grants, which were awarded to community partners responding to food security issues.

The company’s Stop Hunger Foundation is focused on ending childhood hunger. It has granted more than $2 million toward food resiliency efforts in Montgomery County.

Sodexo’s values of promoting diversity, inclusion and opportunity have always, and will continue, to fit in perfectly in Montgomery County. I wish Sodexo success in its new home.

Montgomery Among the Healthiest Counties in the Nation

Montgomery County once again ranks among the healthiest counties in the nation in the annual County Health Rankings report. There are many socioeconomic and public health-related benchmarks hit by our County, but the report also indicates areas that we must improve to ensure everyone shares in the opportunity for a long and healthy life.

Highlights from the report include some of the lowest rates of premature death in the country. Residents also benefit from a higher life expectancy than the average in Maryland and in the United States. Montgomery County scores were boosted by a lower percentage of smokers and a higher rate of physical activity among residents. Additionally, our area benefits from having a higher ratio of doctors, dentists and mental health providers than the average American county.

Environmental health is also a positive in Montgomery County. Scores reflect continued progress in the reduction of air pollution in our community. I expect those favorable scores to continue as we finalize regulations and more companies adopt them. Infrastructure improvements continue to address water pollution to limit the impact on our drinking water.

Montgomery County will continue to score positive marks when it comes to high accessibility to exercise opportunities. For the second consecutive year, we have helped families by offering free gym passes at recreation centers across the area.

Although in many areas, we are doing well--and we still have challenges. For instance, one in four residents are considered obese. Alcohol-impaired driving deaths continue to kill too many people in our community. And affordable housing continues to be a struggle for too many families.

We must recognize that there continue to be disparities, especially in our communities, of color. We cannot ignore these disparities within our community and must work to break down inequities so that everyone can enjoy these health benefits.

Our civic infrastructure has helped us stand out as an ideal place in the nation. We will continue to strengthen that asset and ensure that it is working equally for everyone who calls Montgomery County home.

I encourage you to look through the latest CHR rankings at

Health Update

On the health front, COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses continue to be on the decline. There was a good turnout at a school-age vaccination clinic held today at the Dennis Avenue Health Center in Silver Spring. Vaccines work.

There is a national and worldwide rise in measles cases—particularly in young children. Measles cases are rare in Montgomery County and in Maryland. It and many other childhood diseases are preventable with vaccinations. Make sure your child is up to date on required vaccinations and take advantage of vaccination clinics when they are offered. There will be more in the coming months in preparation for the next school year.

Spring in Montgomery County

With the start of spring, there are many things to do around Montgomery County. Please check out this Visit Montgomery page that lists places to see and experience around the County this spring.

I hope all MCPS families had a wonderful spring break week. And for residents and their families celebrating Easter this weekend, I wish you safe and joyous gatherings.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive