Montgomery Seeks Public Input on Small Cell Antenna Zoning

(Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Office of Public Information)

Montgomery County is seeking input from residents on a draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) that would address the deployment of small cell antennas on public property, including streetlights and low buildings.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro cells (what you would typically imagine as a large, tall, and free standing cell tower), allowing them to be placed on short poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings. The technology is proliferating in part to increase network capacity and coverage as the demand for wireless services has increased.

Additional background from the county’s Office of Public Information:

Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County. Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.

Community meeting information:

  • Date: Monday, October 23, 2017
  • Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Location: Stella B Warner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Rockville, MD 20850

To view the live community meeting remotely:

For more information on the meeting, to view the amendment, and to submit comments visit:

Montgomery County Transition Facilities Coordination Group – Information on Draft ZTA Amendment

 

The Costs of Luring Amazon

building-2762319_1920It seems like everyone is talking about luring Amazon’s second headquarters to their jurisdiction, and the State is no exception. With Amazon’s deadline for proposals coming this week, Douglass Mayer, spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, has said that Maryland will propose “the biggest incentive offer in the State’s history by a mile,” reports The Baltimore Business Journal

From that coverage:

Already, the state has invested more than $50 million in tax incentives for two Amazon distribution centers in Baltimore and Cecil County. Another package totaling at least $16.2 million is awaiting a deal under negotiation in Baltimore County at the former Sparrows Point steel mill site.

In total, Amazon has netted $1.24 billion in taxpayer backed incentives across the U.S., a special report by the Business Journals highlighted this week.

Mayer said Hogan had sanctioned the pie-in-the-sky tax break package as part of the ongoing push for HQ2 and monitors the developing bids daily. The historic incentive package no doubt will blast past the $317 million offered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to move its headquarters to Prince George’s County last year.

Amazon’s deadline for proposals fors its estimated $5.5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs is this Thursday, October 19. Prince George’s, Howard and Baltimore City have all indicated their intentions to place bids.

More on the competition for Amazon:

UMD System Waives Tuition Rule For Amazon Employees

Baltimore submits city as a contender for Amazon’s 2nd HQ search

Baltimore County Takes Leadership Role In Jobs Innovation Program

An innovative workforce initiative led by Baltimore County is drawing attention across the country. New data from a five-year program demonstrates that low-skilled job seekers can improve their employment potential and earnings through dynamic programs that go beyond the normal technical training.

According to a press release:

Accelerating Connections to Employment (ACE) incorporated employability training, financial literacy and computer literacy with occupational certification training to improve the marketability of job seekers.

ACE program participants included individuals with limited English proficiency and job seekers with low reading, writing and math skills.

“The ACE jobs innovation program has changed lives for job seekers who need a little extra support as they prepare for a new career. Baltimore County is proud to have lead the national team that clearly delivered results in getting people back to work in family-supporting jobs,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Baltimore County led the multi-state ACE collaboration, funded through a $11.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund.

In Baltimore County, the Department of Economic and Workforce Development delivered the local program in partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County.

An independent evaluation firm concluded that after graduating from the program, ACE participants worked more hours in a week, earned higher wages, and were more likely to achieve occupational credentials than those not participating in the program.

ACE served 1,258 low-skilled individuals in nine sites across four states: Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia and Texas. The individuals who received ACE services were randomly selected from a group of potential participants, ensuring that results were due to the impact of ACE services.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development administered the five-year initiative in five Maryland jurisdictions [Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Upper Shore] and cities in three other states.

Read the full press release for more information.

Queen Anne’s Joins Baltimore Metropolitan Council

Queen Anne’s County this week became the first new jurisdiction to join the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) since the organization’s inception in 1992. The BMC acts as the regional planning agency for metropolitan Baltimore.

The Council is composed of nine members. One member each is appointed by the Mayor of Baltimore, the County Executives of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties, and the County Commissioners of Carroll and Queen Anne’s counties.

According to a press release:

While BMC’s Board of Directors has expanded in recent years to include members of the Maryland General Assembly and other state-appointed representatives, adding Queen Anne’s County is a historic move. It is the first new jurisdiction to join the membership in BMC’s and its predecessor organizations’ decades-long history, reflecting the growing number of families that cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to learn, work and play in the Baltimore region.

“Queen Anne’s County sees joining the BMC as an asset, as more of our residents traverse the Bay Bridge for work and essential services,” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner James J. Moran, who will serve as the jurisdiction’s representative to the BMC Board of Directors. “Together we can work toward the betterment of Queen Anne’s County and the Baltimore region through the coordination of initiatives from transportation investment to new cooperative purchasing opportunities.”

Through the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB), BMC supports state and local government in transportation planning efforts in what is known as the “Urbanized Area.” Based upon population trends in the greater Baltimore region, the U.S. Census Bureau expanded the Baltimore Urbanized Area to include the Kent Island area of Queen Anne’s County. As a result, in 2015, Queen Anne’s County became a non-voting member of the BRTB for purposes of coordinating federal transportation investment in the region. In 2016, Queen Anne’s County expressed interest in becoming members of the BMC.

In November 2016, the BMC Board of Directors voted to extend an invitation for membership to Queen Anne’s County. The Maryland General Assembly passed SB212/HB173 and Gov. Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law. Soon after, the BMC’s Board of Directors formally amended its by-laws to add Queen Anne’s County.

Read the full press release for more information.

Trade Mission Brings Korean Businesses to Maryland

A delegation of Maryland officials, including First Lady Yumi Hogan, have wooed two more Korean-headquartered businesses — Fasoo.com, Inc. and Green Cross Cell — to locate offices in Maryland.

In regards to Fasoo.com, Inc. The Herald Mail reports:

While headquartered in Seoul, its North American arm was based in Sunnyvale, Calif., from 2012 until 2014, when the company moved to East Brunswick, N.J. The company moved to Bethesda, Md., in late September, bringing seven employees.

“The quality of the Maryland workforce is why we’re moving from New Jersey. The high concentration of skilled and experienced information-security professionals in the corridor between Washington, D.C., and Fort Meade is one of the biggest factors in the decision to shift our North American operations,” Cho Kyu-gon, Fasoo’s founder, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

In regards to Green Cross Cell, which specializes in cancer immunotherapy, the article clarifies that the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce. If established in Maryland the operation would be its first subsidiary outside of Asia.

The article also notes that separate county delegations are travelling to South Korea to attract even more businesses. A trade mission led by Prince George’s County Executive Director Rushern Baker has resulted in a “Friendship Agreement with the Korean city of Cheonan. The county is the only one in Maryland to have a countywide free trade zone which provides reduced import tariffs for foreign companies operating within the county. And in October, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is scheduled to lead a mission to South Korea.

Read the full article in The Herald Mail  to learn more.

UMD System Waives Tuition Rule For Amazon Employees

With several Maryland jurisdictions vying to land Amazon’s new headquarters, the University System of Maryland on Tuesday approved a tuition waiver to help lure the company, and its 50,000 jobs, to the state.

According to The Associated Press:

To help entice a second Amazon headquarters to Maryland, a state board has voted to waive a 12-month residency requirement to qualify for in-state tuition for any Amazon employees who move to the state, if a new headquarters is established.

The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents voted to waive the residency rule on Tuesday.

It also would apply to spouses and children of employees at the system’s 12 degree-granting institutions.

Chancellor Robert Caret says the board acted to support Maryland’s economy.

Read the full article for more information.

Cecil Looks To Boost Economic Development

The Cecil County Office of Economic Development will present two resolutions to the Cecil County Council aimed at bringing two new distribution centers and hundreds of jobs to the County in the coming months.

According to a press release:

Maryland’s Department of Commerce has conditionally agreed to grant up to $360,000 from the Maryland Economic Development Assistance and Authority Fund (MEDAAF) to Lidl US, LLC. The grant will assist the German supermarket chain in acquiring property and establishing a new 790,000 square foot distribution center in the Principio Business Park in North East, Maryland. As required by the MEDAAF statute, the County will contribute $36,000.

The proposed Lidl project will cost an estimated $105M for the land acquisition and site construction and $45M in additional costs for equipment and interior needs. The company expects to hire 100 permanent full-time employees by December 2018.

“Lidl’s commitment to Cecil County in 2016 was the first of a recent flurry of activity for Principio Business Park, which also includes Amazon, TruAire, and Project Melo. This Regional Headquarters and Distribution Center will allow Lidl to continue expanding north along the eastern seaboard,’ said Cecil County Director of Economic Development Christopher Moyer.

Also slated to develop at the Principio Business Park is Project Melo, a U.S.-based manufacturer. Maryland’s Department of Commerce has conditionally agreed to loan Project Melo up to $1.2M to assist in establishing a new 1M plus square foot distribution center. Plans call for anticipated project costs at approximately $16M for land acquisition, $65M for construction and improvements and $3M for equipment. The County will contribute a $170,000 conditional loan.

Initially, Project Melo expects to hire 225 full time employees at the site by the end of December 2021 and 225 additional full time employees by the end of 2023.

The resolutions will be presented before the Council on October 3, 2017.

Read the full press release for more information.

Tech Company To Bring 80 Jobs To MD

Canadian circuit board manufacturer CTI America Corp. is moving into Maryland.

The Ontario-based tech company plans to invest in a $10 million new facility, bringing at least 80 jobs to the state, according to The Baltimore Business Journal. The Maryland Department of Commerce is working with CTI to finalize a location, which the company expects have operational within 12 months.

From The Baltimore Business Journal:

The announcement comes while [Governor Larry] Hogan is in Canada on a trade mission which includes stops in Toronto and Montreal.

Hogan toured Circuit Tech Inc.’s facility in Markham, Ontario, with company executives. CTI makes printed circuit boards that are used in the defense, space, aerospace, medical equipment, industrial network and telecommunication market segments.

Hogan said in a statement he enjoyed the tour and is “thrilled” the company has chosen to open its new facility in Maryland.

 

Unemployment Below 4% For First Time Since 2008

For the first time since 2008, Maryland’s unemployment rate fell below 4 percent in August – just below, to 3.9 percent. The state gained 14,200 jobs, with the private-sector adding 9,700 jobs. August is the fifth month this year to post over-the-month job gains.

The national average unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, placing Maryland ahead of the curve.

Governor Larry Hogan stated:

From day one, a top priority of our administration has been growing our private sector and creating more jobs and we have made incredible progress. In just two and a half years, Maryland has added more than 10 times more private sector jobs than were added in the previous 8 years, and the unemployment rate is at the lowest it has been in nearly a decade. We pledged to put our state on a new path and turn around our economy, and we are doing exactly that.

Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz said:

August’s job gains are the second-highest in the past seven years. Our regulatory reform and workforce development programs are creating opportunities for both business owners and job seekers, and the numbers reflect that. The Department of Labor is proud to do its part to ensure our citizens have jobs.

Government jobs increased by 4,500 positions. Leisure and hospitality suffered the largest decrease, losing 1,100 jobs.

Useful Links

State’s press release

Baltimore Business Journal coverage

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

NLC Report Identifies 5 Types of Local Economies – Which One Are You?

A Sustainable City Network article (2017-09-05) highlighted the findings of a recently release report by the National League of Cities (NLC) which detailed five different types of local economies, including two types of economies for the urban and rural extremes and three types of economies for mid-sized or transitioning regions. The report, Local Economic Conditions: The Untold Story of the Varied Middle, found that out of the 224 cities examined, 84% reported their local economy has improved since 2016. From the article:

“Local leaders know that the unique assets and needs of their cities require customized approaches to economic development,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities. “Our report shows that both promising economic trends and complexities underlie local economies. America’s cities power the national economy, and with an even better understanding of the variance in local economies, city leaders will work together to move the country forward.”

The five groupings of local economies revealed by a cluster analysis of 224 cities are:
  • Rural Brain Drains (pop. <50k) – a cluster of highly rural cities with shrinking populations and a lack of affordable housing
  • Cities on Par (pop. 50-99k) – one of three mid-sized clusters that seems to be experiencing the national trend of slow, positive growth driven by new business starts
  • Room to Grow (pop. 100-299k) – one of three mid-sized clusters that is defined by favorable commercial property values, affordable housing stock and population growth
  • Mid-sized Business Boomers (pop. 100-299k) – one of three mid-sized clusters that features business expansions but faces significant misalignment of workforce skills and employer demands
  • Major Job Centers (pop. >300k) – a cluster of large cities with bountiful employment and business expansions that also faces significant affordable housing shortages and poverty issues …

“Until now, our glimpse into mid-sized cities has been limited to a fuzzy picture of places that are not rural, not large, but someplace in between,” said Christiana McFarland, director of research at National League of Cities. “This analysis enables us to tell the untold story of the varied middle and help cities localize solutions to meet their specific needs and better harness their assets.”

The report also analyzed the positive and negative economic drivers for each economy type and contained additional findings regarding new business starts, workforce skills misalignment, and affordable housing challenges.

Useful Links

NLC Website

NLC Report – 2017 Local Economic Conditions: The Untold Story of the Varied Middle