Economic development officials discussed the importance of bringing people together to build a common understanding and approach to meet identified goals when developing an economic plan. The session, held during the MACo Summer Conference, titled “The Basics of Structured Economic Development” was sponsored by MACo’s affiliate organization, the County Engineers Association of Maryland, and the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA). It was moderated by Baltimore City Delegate Mary Washington.
Panelists included Alex McCoy, Economic Development Director for Garret County; Lily Qi, Director of Special Projects for the Montgomery County Executive; and Lara Fritts, Director of Business Development at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP and Professional Development Committee Chair with MEDA.
Alex McCoy shared what economic development is and why it matters. He commented that it means different things to almost everyone and establishing a common, supported approach is important. In general, it is about growing wealth for a community, region, or state over time; and communities need strong tax revenue to maintain or expand their existing level of service. In closing, Alex commented that “economic development is only the place communities can spend resources to generate new revenues.”
Lily Qi highlighted Montgomery County’s economic development challenges and the county’s new approach to overcome them by privatizing economic development efforts. The county recently formed a new nonprofit, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, which created a single point of contact for economic and workforce development. The new message is that economic development is everyone’s job; policy makers, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and community leaders.
Lara Fritts shared the benefits of belonging to MEDA and its professional opportunities. She emphasized that “you don’t need to do it alone. MEDA has resources to help you!”
Panelist presentations can be found on MACo’s Summer Conference App.