This year’s MACo Summer Conference was themed “Energize. Mobilize. Capitalize.” with many sessions focused on how to foster economic growth, improve business climate and form strategic partnerships to build on Maryland’s economic outlook.
At the MACo Summer Conference general session “Maryland’s Next Frontier in Economic Development” audience members heard from key leaders in the public and private sectors, state and local government, about exciting and innovative developments and changes in store as Maryland continues to embrace economic competitiveness, business growth, and prosperity.
Mike Gill, Secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, kicked off the session with a broad outlook on investing in Maryland’s economic well-being. Gill shared insights from his statewide tour of meeting with local officials to learn about their needs, obstacles they face and projects they are pursuing. Gill assured the Department will partner with local governments as they seek to bring businesses to their communities and generate economic success.
Next, Kenneth Holt, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, spoke about the innovative programs and plans he has in store for the Department and its role in helping economic development in Maryland. This includes rapidly and aggressively streamlining the regulatory environment; increasing the production of single family and multifamily housing; investing in business by expanding the Departments small business lending program from a $5 million program to a $50 million program; and launching an inventive program to help millennials with student debt become homeowners.
Joshua C. Greene gave voice to the private sector. Mr. Greene is a partner at Squire Patton Boggs and co-founder/executive director of Cleantech Open Southeast. He also serves as a member of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, also known as the “Augustine Commission”. Greene discussed what the commission accomplished during Phase I of their study of the state’s business climate and what the commission hopes to accomplish during Phase II where they will study everything related to the state’s tax structure.
The session then switched gears to provide a local government perspective. Keasha Haythe, Economic Development Director for Dorchester County and President of the Maryland Economic Developers Association (MEDA) discussed how economic development can help transform lives and communities. Haythe highlighted innovative projects in the urban, rural, and suburban areas across the state including high performance tax credit projects in Baltimore City; federal agency and military installations in Montgomery, Frederick, Anne Arundel and Howard Counties; and how from DelFest (an annual blue grass festival) in Allegany County to the Great Water Fowl festival in Talbot County, tourism is used as an economic driver. Haythe concluded with a focus on how Dorchester County incorporated branding as part of its economic development strategy.
The session was moderated by Senator Kasemeyer, Chair of the Senate Budget and Tax Committee. It was and held from 9:00 am – 10:30 am on Friday, August 14 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.