If we want to have great schools, excellent services, a high quality of life and good jobs for our residents, we have to have a vibrant tax base. Put simply, we need office buildings in order to pay for schools. That means we must pursue economic development. But we have never and will never compete by racing to the bottom. Instead, our challenge is to focus on our assets, market them and make smart, strategic choices on which industries to attract and retain.
Prior to my taking office, Montgomery County had a Department of Economic Development (DED) but it had no real strategy to guide its activities. So Council Member Roger Berliner and I drafted and passed a bill to require the county to adopt a strategy with concrete measures on job creation, private sector compensation and benefits, target industries, target geographic areas, workforce education and training, growth in tax base, economic opportunity for residents, encouragement of entrepreneurs and small business, land use, and other actions necessary to promote economic development. DED is currently in the process of finalizing a plan that meets these requirements of law.
I also drafted and passed a bill to create a county Cybersecurity Tax Credit. Information security is a rapidly growing industry in which both the state and the county have key competitive advantages. By acting to capture these jobs now, we will reap big benefits down the road.
I have supported funding for the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a quasi-public entity with private sector participation that has dramatically improved our marketing efforts. Check out their website to see the research, marketing resources and tools they have put forward to help us create jobs.
Finally, while we rightly scrutinize new development projects for traffic and environmental impacts, we must ensure that our review processes are timely, efficient and fair. I am working to make sure that we strike the right balance to protect our interests while also advancing our economy.