The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee has completed seven work sessions on the Zoning Code Rewrite, and we have two more scheduled for September 13 and 20 before sending the rewrite to the full Council. If you are following along, I encourage you to check out the memo about affordable housing in the revised zoning code on our Web page dedicated to the rewrite. You may also find the FAQ section on that page helpful. If you are looking for even more background information, see the overview or the interactive map where you can find out how proposed changes would affect your property.
Over the years, the Zoning Code has become overly technical, contradictory in some places and difficult to understand. We aim to make the revised version more transparent, clear and consistent. Feel free to weigh in as we continue to make our way though this comprehensive project.
The Montgomery Business Development Corporation has launched a new Web site that includes the only tool in operation that enables users to see available sites or leasable space throughout the County. It also has extensive demographic information.
The Web site includes business-friendly features, data resources and information to support existing and future business and development in the vibrant economy. The site, which is free and available to all users, can be found at www.montgomerybusiness.org.
The Montgomery Business Development Corporation was established by the Montgomery County Council in 2010 as an apolitical organization to provide a business-friendly perspective regarding economic development issues. MBDC’s goals include providing strategic planning, retaining and attracting business and legislative and regulatory advocacy. I was pleased to be the lead sponsor on this legislation.
Due in part to its unique business perspective, the Montgomery Business Development Corporation has been a tremendous asset in ensuring Montgomery County’s continued role as one of the nation’s top economic engines, Now, with the new Web site, MBDC is rolling out the welcome mat for those looking to relocate to Montgomery County—as well as providing valuable information for those who are already here. This is a terrific resource.
Features of the MBDC Web site include:
· The Site Selection Tool. This will enable site selection consultants, brokers, developers and prospective businesses to have access to a detailed database of land and buildings in the county. The Site Selection Tool is linked to Loopnet to offer the most current available real estate database.
· Marketing Assistance. Comprehensive data and marketing materials are now available to promote doing business in Montgomery County. Web site visitors can get details on the location of the County (including maps), information on business advantages, major employers, operating costs, the local government, infrastructure, talent, culture and lifestyles.
· Economic Data. This section provides current and relevant regional economic and demographic data, which supports the expansion of existing businesses while also presenting marketing opportunities for new business investments.
· News and Policy Updates. Updated feeds on business news and legislation that impact economic development will always be current.
We recently approved a bill that will allow owners of properties designated as “historic” to take tax credits of up to 25 percent for qualified improvements that help preserve the historic nature of the property. This is a great incentive for property owners to make investments in preservation that benefit us all.
Maryland and Montgomery County have previously allowed tax credits of 10 percent for qualified improvements to historic homes. As of July 1, the state law changed and now allows a 25 percent tax credit. Passage of the bill keeps the County at the highest possible tax credit allowed by law.
The Council designates specific properties or districts as historic by including them in the Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The designation provides public benefit by retaining the history of the property. However, the owner of a historic property has additional burdens compared to other property owners.
Once designated, the owners of historic property must seek a historic area work permit before making changes to the exterior of their property. The review is intended to ensure that the historic integrity of the site is maintained. The cost for improvements to historic properties is generally higher than it is for non-historic properties as the material and labor necessary to adhere to historic preservation standards make improvements more expensive. The tax credit will help offset this burden. In FY11, there were 141 applications for historic tax credits. Kudos to Councilmember Craig Rice for sponsoring this legislation.
Montgomery County is home to 30 of the 100 largest publicly traded companies as recently ranked by the Washington Business Journal.
The County's highest ranking company on the list is Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corporation, coming in at #3 with 2012 revenue of more than $47.1 billion. See the other 29.
Our Department of Economic Development has released the application and qualification criteria for an incentive program designed to drive green innovation locally by supporting early-stage investors. The Green Investor Incentive Program is a unique approach to encourage investments in green companies by reimbursing qualified investors with payments of up to $25,000. Investors and green companies will be qualified through an application process that officially opened July 24.
To qualify as a green business, a company must provide a green product or technology, be headquartered in the County, have been in business for less than ten years and employ fewer than 50 people. The company must also practice green business operations and be a certified B-Corporation, Montgomery County Certified Green Business, or have earned a similar designation.
Individuals and investment firms that have invested in qualified green companies from July 24, 2013 until December 31, 2013 are potentially eligible to access this year’s $500,000 appropriation, which will be allocated by a pre-set formula. The program will be first come first served, and investors will have until January 15, 2014 to submit their applications. Qualified investors cannot be pension or retirement funds, and cannot have an ownership stake in the company prior to investing.
Learn more or download an application.
Is your community organization hosting a public meeting? Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you. Send your meeting notices to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.