At the MACo Summer Conference session “Build It and They Will Come: Infrastructure Tools to Attract Private Investment” audience members learned about how local governments and small businesses can leverage Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development programs to grow their businesses or projects, and draw new investors.
Program Manager Charles F.G. Day, Jr. started off the session with a presentation on the Local Government Infrastructure Finance Program (LGIF). Day spoke on the benefits the LGIF program brings to local governments. For instance the LGIF helps to capitalize on Maryland’s high credit ratings and high county credit ratings to help smaller municipalities access the capital bond market at reasonable rates with reasonable returns. And improving infrastructure helps attract private investment, new jobs and businesses.
Bill Badger, Director of Economic Development for Worcester County, showed how the county leveraged the use of Community Development Block Grants to re-imagine Main Streets and the surrounding communities by highlighting projects in Pocomoke City including the Riverside Grill and Russell Blake Industrial Park.
Next, Michael Haloskey, Director of Business Lending for DHCD, discussed Neighborhood BusinessWorks (NBW) the state’s small business loan program designed to help revitalize communities, and strengthen commercial districts and town centers by providing gap financing to businesses in Sustainable Communities. While local governments are not eligible applicants for NBW, the assistance the program provides to small businesses helps revitalize local communities by generating commercial/retail activity and improving vacant or under-used buildings. Since 1996 the program has created and sustained 12,000 jobs across the state and leverage $399 million in private investment.
Finally, Denis Minihane, owner of Minihane’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, shared how he went from a marine biologist in Ireland to a pub owner in Cecil County. Using NBW funds and other DHCD funds, and leveraging other assistance, Minihane was able to renovate the historic Washington Hotel into a successful pub. Minihane discussed the importance of local businesses supporting the community and in turn being supported by the community. With support he built it and they came!
The session was moderated by Delegate Adrienne Jones and held from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm on August 12, 2015 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s MACo Summer Conference theme is “Energize. Mobilize. Capitalize.” For more information about MACo’s Summer Conference, please visit www.mdcounties.org/MACoCon.