Schuh, Mussog on Attracting and Expanding Businesses in Anne Arundel

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and Economic Development, Corp. CEO Julie Mussog sat down with The Capital Gazette to discuss incentives, TIFs, and the future of economic development in the county as Mussog rounds out her first month at the head of the quasi-governmental agency.

An excerpt from the The Capital Gazette interview:

What are your priorities as you steer the corporation?

Mussog: I just sat down with business development staff this week and asked them — you know, we have certain tools to help existing businesses, attract new businesses (such as loans and tax credits), but I’ve reviewed some of the packages we’ve put together and (looked at) what ones are being used first of all and what ones are not being used, and why aren’t they being used. Are they just not that attractive, and if they are, then why have them? Let’s look at maybe something else. (I asked staff) what’s your dream incentive to be able to offer, when you’re out there with a business? Like, what would really be a great hook for Anne Arundel County?

And then also, some of the tools that we have, I don’t know whether there’s an awareness about them, or there’s a misperception that they’re cumbersome and difficult to do, to check all the boxes to get the incentives. So, first, if it really is difficult, what can we do to cut the red tape and make it an incentive that’s worthwhile? Or what can we do to help educate people that it isn’t as difficult as it looks like?

What are the Economic Development Corp.’s goals?

Schuh: Basically, we have a five-part plan. No. 1 is attract new business to Anne Arundel County. So, the EDC is in effect our marketing arm, commercial marketing arm.

No. 2, assist those new businesses in establishing themselves here in Anne Arundel County. That involves helping them find space, business planning, connecting to sources of capital — all kinds of things.

The third is working with our existing businesses to expand, which can involve many of those same kinds of services: real estate assistance, capital, advisory, transaction structuring, connecting to business partners. Anything that facilitates the growth of business.

And then, fourth, connecting county employers to employees. That is a real challenge in Anne Arundel County in a lot of respects, and in that domain (Mussog) works closely with the Workforce Development Corp., but also with (Anne Arundel Community College) to make sure we’re training people to have the right skills for the jobs that are being created in different parts of the county; working with the housing (commission) to make sure people who live in our public housing communities can get to jobs. There’s a lot to getting people connected to employers.

And then the last piece, No. 5, is special projects. And (Mussog’s) been involved as controller in a lot of these already: Odenton Town Center, the conference center at Maryland Live for high school graduations (slated to be ready for the class of 2018 graduation), helping Northrop Grumman.

For more information read the full interview with Schuh and Mussog in the Capital Gazette