Frederick Launches Website to Highlight Local Opportunity Zones

Frederick County, in collaboration with the City of Frederick and City of Brunswick, recently launched a website to help connect investors with existing local ventures eligible for the Opportunity Zone incentive program.

The Opportunity Zone program is a nationwide initiative administered by the U.S. Treasury. The program encourages long-term investment of unrealized capital gains into select communities (Opportunity Zones) via a special investment vehicle called Opportunity Funds.

Investors may receive increasing discounts on any capital gains taxes due on that money. If an investment is left in the Opportunity Fund for 10 years, any new gains are free of capital gains taxes.

The program is designed to be flexible, allowing a wide range of investments, and unlike other federal tax programs, there is no authorized cap on the amount of capital that could be made available through Opportunity Zone investments.

According to a press release:

“Frederick County is a great place to do business,” said Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. “We want to provide investors with a range of opportunities. These new Opportunity Zones provide another reason companies and businesses should locate and expand in Frederick County.”

The Frederick County map-based, interactive platform highlights potential projects throughout the five designated Opportunity Zone Census tracts in Frederick County. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development announced Governor Larry Hogan’s approval in April 2018 of 149 zones in Maryland. Zones were selected based on low-tomoderate income eligible census tracts at the Governor’s discretion.

The five zones in Frederick County have been identified on the website into three areas:

  •  The City of Frederick Opportunity Zone
  • Frederick County RT 355/85 Corridor Opportunity Zone
  • City of Brunswick Opportunity Zone

The County’s Opportunity Zone is centered on the growing RT355/85 Corridor and includes the office, industrial and retail areas of Westview and the FSK Mall. The Frederick County RT 355/85 Opportunity Zone is central to the I-270/I-70 Interchange and the Frederick MARC Station.

Read the full press release for more information.

Baltimore Among Forbes’ Top Ten Startup Sites

Forbes Magazine named Baltimore among its top ten sites for business startups, citing the area’s investment in higher education and technology.

One facet of the Fortune article is a discussion of efforts to broaden the geographic distribution of venture capital to areas beyond some of the traditional “hot spots” including Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston:

One of those investors is Steve Case. The billionaire co-founder of AOL co-founded DC-based VC firm Revolution in 2005 and has been running it ever since. He launched his Rise of the Rest seed fund in 2014 to fuel startups in underserved cities. He made a splash last year with a $150 million Rise of the Rest early stage fund. The fund’s investment roster features some of the richest, most successful Americans in business: Jeff Bezos, Sara Blakely, Dan Gilbert, Henry Kravis, Eric Schmidt, Howard Schultz, Meg Whitman and more.

“The goal is to level the playing field so everybody, everywhere who has an idea has a shot at building a company and the American Dream,” says Case. It’s also good business. “It is a great arbitrage because there is less capital focused on those places and valuations are lower,” he says. “Maybe there is too much capital in Silicon Valley, maybe valuations are too high? There is not too much capital in St. Louis or Columbus.”

Regarding Baltimore as one of the top locations for this sort of investment, the listing notes:

The proximity to Washington, D.C. helps Baltimore’s startup community. Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures serves as the commercial arm of the school’s researchers and investors. JHTV had 164 patents last year, seventh most among schools.

Read the full Forbes article online.

Sustainable Growth Commission Discusses A Better Maryland, Transportation, and Parks Plans

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission heard on updates on the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland; the 2040 Maryland Transportation Plan; and the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan at its September 24, 2018, meeting in Leonardtown.

A Better Maryland

Maryland Secretary of Planning Robert McCord, Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters and other Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) representatives provided an update on the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland. The plan, which is expected to be finalized in 2019, is currently being developed by MDP after several rounds of statewide listening tours.

The plan will broadly focus on environment and economic development issues – the two top areas of concerns raised by listening tour participants. The plan will be developed around four issue groupings: (1) environmental issues; (2) economic development issues; (3) community development issues; and (4) collaboration/coordination issues. MDP has currently identified 14 issues that will fall under these four issue groupings.

Environmental Issues

  • Sustaining the environment into the future
  • Preserving land
  • Adapting and becoming resilient to climate change

Economic Development Issues

  • Tackling the economic development needs of the next century
  • Improving economic growth and development in existing communities
  • Meeting renewable energy goals
  • Addressing Maryland’s transportation, infrastructure, and technology challenges and opportunities

Community Development Issues

  • Creating workforce/affordable housing
  • Building capacity in communities
  • Protecting historic and cultural resources
  • Creating quality places

Collaboration//Coordination Issues

  • Coordinating State agencies in planning process
  • Respecting regional distinctions
  • Improving the delivery of programs and services to local jurisdictions

The plan will provide further details on addressing each of these issues as a full draft of the plan is developed.

2040 Maryland Transportation Plan

Charles Glass from the Maryland Department of Transportation provided an update on the state’s draft 2040 transportation plan, which will chart Maryland’s long-range transportation funding and project programming. The plan is updated every 5 years. The 2040 plan contains seven overall goals:

  1. Provide better transportation choices and connections
  2. Ensure a safe, secure, and resilient transportation system
  3. Maintain a high standard and modernize Maryland’s multimodal transportation system
  4. Improve the quality and efficiency of the transportation system to enhance the customer experience
  5. Promote fiscal responsibility
  6. Facilitate economic opportunity and reduce congestion in Maryland through strategic system expansion
  7. Ensure environmental protection and sensitivity

Each goal includes a set of objectives and strategies for achieving those objectives. The 2040 plan will include significant components to begin addressing: (1) electric vehicles; (2) autonomous and connected vehicles; (3) climate impacts; and (4) the shared mobility economy.

Public comments on the draft 2040 plan are due by November 14.

Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan

Sandi Olek from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided a short update on the state’s recreation plan. The recreation plan, which includes information and plans created by local governments, is needed to access federal funding for parks and land preservation. The theme of the pending plan will be connectivity, including ensuring equitable access to green space.

Leonardtown Update

Leonardtown Mayor Dan Burris and Town Administrator Lachelle McKay provided an overview of the town’s revitalization and growth plans. Both noted their positive working relationship with St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioners James Guy, Tom Jarboe, and Michael Hewitt also attended the meeting.

MACo representatives on the Commission include Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter and MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp. The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for November 26, 2018, in Gaithersburg.

Useful Links

Sustainable Growth Commission Webpage

Beltway Communities Awarded Revitalization Funding

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development awarded $9.75 million to communities within Baltimore and Capital Beltways for revitalization projects. 

The funds were awarded from the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative and the National Capital Strategic Economic Development Fund. They will support 64 projects and leverage nearly $372 million in additional investments.

As announced by a DHCD news release:

The Fiscal Year 2019 awards [from the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative] will support 59 projects including: continuation of a home rehabilitation program in Brooklyn Heights and Arundel Village in Anne Arundel County; construction of a new facility in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore to house a culinary arts training program to prepare adults for well-paying jobs in food service; a building improvement program to encourage and sustain small businesses in the Waverly Main Street District in Baltimore, and; supporting home repairs for low- to moderate-income elderly homeowners in the Dundalk community of Baltimore County.

The Fiscal Year 2019 awards are the first awards made through the [National Capital Strategic Economic Development] fund and will support five projects including architectural and engineering services for the rehabilitation of Hillbrooke Towers, a 55-unit apartment complex near downtown Silver Spring in Montgomery County, and development of Palmer Park Meadows Townhomes to create nine affordable townhomes in the Palmer Park neighborhood of Hyattsville in Prince George’s County.

Read the full news release to learn more.

Maryland Tech Council Appoints Marty Rosendale Chief Executive Officer

The Maryland Tech Council (MTC), the state’s largest trade association supporting the technology and life sciences sectors, today announced the appointment of Marty Rosendale as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective immediately.

According to a press release:

“Marty is a long-time member of MTC and served as senior executive advisor of the Tech Council of Maryland (TCM) in 2016, playing a key role in fostering the successful merger of the TCM with the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, which was effective on January 1, 2017,” stated Rene B. LaVigne, MTC Chairman and President and CEO of Iron Bow Technologies. “He is an excellent choice to serve MTC as CEO. He knows the organization intimately, understands the business sectors of our membership as well as the constituents’ focus, has a visionary mindset, and brings extensive C-level experience.”

Marty Rosendale (photo courtesy of the Maryland Tech Council)

Marty is a 35-year veteran of the life sciences industry and through his collective experiences and specific efforts with the Newport Board Group, a national professional services firm, he provides expert advisory services to CEOs, board directors, and executive leaders addressed with navigating major industry and organizational inflection points. With more than 15 years of C-level experience, he has led several successful businesses in various market sectors including medical biologics, drugs, medical devices, and plastics.

Marty has launched, branded, acquired or commercialized more than 10 products and companies. He has raised equity-based capital for public and private companies and non-dilutive capital through strategic partnerships. He has also provided technical support or corporate advice to companies in the biotechnology, food preparation, and plastics engineering market sectors. Marty has been a Board member for Nuo Therapeutics, the Transplant Recipients International Organization and the American Red Cross, San Jose Region. He also served on the Health Advisory Committee for past California State Senator Diane Watson.

“I am honored and excited to accept the appointment as CEO of the Maryland Tech Council and for the opportunity to lead the team that has built this amazing organization and supported our more than 450 members across the life sciences and technology sectors in Maryland,” said Mr. Rosendale.

The MTC is a collaborative community, actively engaged in building stronger technology and life science companies by supporting the efforts of its individual members. The MTC is the largest technology trade association in the state of Maryland with over 450 members. The Council supports its member companies who are driving innovation through advocacy, education, workforce development, cost savings, and connecting entrepreneurial minds.

For more information, visit http://www.mdtechcouncil.com.

Workgroup to Consider Western Maryland Autonomous Tech Center

Governor Larry Hogan today announced a workgroup to consider the recommendations of a recent feasibility study on the development of a Western Maryland Autonomous Technology Center.

The study considered incorporating all types of autonomous technology, from drones to automated vehicles, as focal points of the training center.

According to the Cumberland Times-News:

As part of the feasibility study, the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland evaluated the technical, economic and regulatory feasibility of a potential training center in Western Maryland. The study included identifying industry interest, analyzing market potential, selecting technology areas and determining facility needs.

The new work group will make recommendations based on the initial findings of the feasibility study, such as determining a potential site location, identifying possible funding sources and refining design and cost estimates for construction. The work group will also identify partnership opportunities and establish specific needs based on feedback from the entities that would use the facility.

The workgroup will also collaborate with local community colleges to develop workforce training programs and build relationships with local businesses.

Read the full article for more information.

Rural Revitalization Guide Highlights Resources for Struggling Communities

Preservation Maryland news release (2018-09-04) announced the publication of a new guide for rural community revitalization.  The guide was developed and published in partnership with the Rural Maryland Council. From the news release:

Revitalizing communities is complex and challenging work. For rural communities, the work often comes with even greater obstacles and hurdles to overcome. The creation of this rural resource guide is Preservation Maryland’s latest effort to support this critical work in smart growth and rural revitalization.

Comprehensive Guide to Rural Revitalization

The 50+ page report entitled, Revitalizing Rural Maryland: A Resource Guide for Rural Communities, is divided by the different resources available to rural communities, including:

  • Grants and Loans
  • Tax Credits
  • Technical Assistance
  • County Specific Resources
  • Case Studies

 

RMC logo

 

 

Useful Links

Revitalizing Rural Maryland Report

Preservation Maryland Website

Rural Maryland Council Website

‘More Jobs for Marylanders’ Program Projected to Bring 2,000 More Jobs to Maryland

Three new counties targeted for the program which is projected to bring 2,000 manufacturing jobs to Maryland.

The More Jobs for Maryland program is off to a running start with the Maryland Department of Commerce sharing that 124 companies have expressed interest in the program with 49 having submitted official applications that collectively project nearly 2,000 new jobs in the state. The program aims to stimulate manufacturing jobs in Maryland.

From the Maryland Department of Commerce:

New manufacturers that locate in targeted jurisdictions and create at least five new jobs may qualify for income tax credits based on the number of jobs created, a state property tax credit, sales and use tax refund for specific purchases, and State Department of Assessment and Taxation fee waiver. Existing manufacturers that meet job creation criteria throughout the state may also qualify for the income tax credit.

Companies applying to the program range from manufacturers of metal, food, adhesives, wood, and other products, and represent the potential for hundreds of new jobs, particularly in areas of the state where unemployment is high.

The article notes that Secretary of Commerce has designated three additional counties — Baltimore, Prince George’s, and Cecil — as Tier 1 counties. Tier 1 counties are targeted jurisdictions under the legislation that created the program and subsequent legislation that altered it. The others include Baltimore City and Allegany, Caroline, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Somerset, Wicomico, Washington, and Worcester counties.

Visit the Maryland Department of Commerce for more information.

Data Firm Drills Down into Small Businesses in Opportunity Zones

New interactive map to help connect local governments and small businesses.

A data firm has launched an interactive map aimed to help local governments find and target small businesses eligible for investment within the federal Opportunity Zones program.

Route Fifty reports:

The company, SMB Intelligence, earlier this month rolled out an interactive map and dataset that now feature about 2,800 small businesses and chains, located throughout the U.S., that are both “investable” and located within areas that are eligible for the program.

There’s been interest in the data. Since posting it online, he said, about 40 state and local agencies, and 50 investors have reached out to SMB about it. The firm has plans to provide the data, which is updated every two weeks, to 15 agencies on a pilot basis starting in September.

The article notes a free version of the map is available on SMB’s website, however due to the labor involved in gathering data SMB may eventually charge to access it after the pilot run.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Opportunity Zones are a new tool to encourage long-term private investment in low-income communities by providing federal tax breaks on any capital gains that result from specific investment in those communities. Federal officials have designated all 149 areas Maryland officials chose for the program which will be effective for 10 years.

Read Route Fifty and visit SMB Intelligence’s interactive map to learn more.

Related Coverage from Conduit Street:

DHCD to Host MD Opportunity Zone Conference

Maryland Identifies “Opportunity Zones”, Awaits Federal Approval

 

NAFTA 2.0?

After nearly a year of high-level negotiations, the United States and Mexico announced a preliminary agreement on a major overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trilateral accord negotiated by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Meanwhile, Canadian officials are in Washington to try and salvage the 24-year-old accord that accounts for more than $1 billion in annual trade.

NAFTA’s terms, which were implemented gradually through January 2008, sough to remove barriers to trade and investment between the three countries.

Manufacturing

The new deal would require auto manufacturers to produce at least 75% of a car’s value in North America, up from the NAFTA threshold of 62.5%, to qualify for NAFTA’s zero tariffs. Automakers would also be required to buy more steel, aluminum, and auto parts locally, and ensure workers in Canada and the US have higher wages.

These proposals are designed to reverse years of outsourcing and improve wages in both the United States and Mexico.

Agriculture

The new deal will keep tariffs on agricultural products traded between the United States and Mexico at zero and set new standards for agriculture and calls for innovations in biotechnology. It requires Mexico to raise environmental standards to be more in line with standards in the United States.

In an effort to drive Mexican wages higher, the agreement also contains enforceable labor provisions that require Mexico to adhere to more stringent labor rights and standards.

Sunset 

The United States had insisted that the new agreement contain a “sunset” clause that would cancel the agreement unless it was renewed every five years, but backed off the demand after businesses complained that it would disincentivize long-term investment in the region.

Instead, the United States and Mexico agreed to a 16-year lifespan for NAFTA, with a review every six years. That longer time horizon would give lawmakers a chance to assess the pact’s progress, while providing businesses with more economic certainty.

The Path Ahead

The White House plans to notify Congress on Friday of its intention to enter into a new trade agreement, to provide the required 90 days’ notice that would allow NAFTA 2.0 to be signed by December 1, when Mexico will install a new president.

According to Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump said talks with Canada to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement are going well, expressing optimism the two countries could reach a deal this week.

“We’re doing really well,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday, referring to negotiations between U.S. and Canadian officials in Washington. “They want to be part of the deal. And we gave till Friday and I think we’re probably on track.”

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is trying to reach agreement with the U.S. this week. But Trudeau added that Canada won’t sacrifice its goal of getting the “right deal.”

Useful Links

Read the full article from Bloomberg

White House Statement on NAFTA Renegotiation