Economic Development

We all know the old addage that you have to spend money to make money.  Last year, as cities and counties throughout the nation were still reeling from the Great Recession, the Mayor & City Council of Gaithersburg made a rather unconventional decision to significantly beef up our funding of Economic Development initiatives.  The logic was simple:  At some point the economy is going to start turning around, and Gaithersburg wants to be prepared to be among the first to attract businesses and redevelopment opportunities, which will in turn grow our tax base and put us on a more secure long-term fiscal footing, and give us the ability to return to the level of service we provided to our residents and businesses before we were forced to make painful cuts.  We wanted to send a clear signal to the world that we are open for business.  Evidence is mounting that the decision has paid large dividends.

Notwithstanding the lingering effects of a global economy struggling to emerge from recession, our very assertive and forward-looking approach to economic development has positioned Gaithersburg at the forefront of recovery.  We are making good on our commitment to spur a long-awaited revitalization of Olde Towne with approved plans, and even visible construction progress, on “game-changing” projects like Archstone, as well as Summit Center, the Y Site, and the Fishman site.  The new apartments at 355 and West Deer Park Road are filling up at a steady clip. We are also very excited about the construction of the new Gaithersburg High School, which the City has worked hard to realize along with our community partners, scheduled to break ground on May 26, 2011.  We also fought for, and won, an expansion of the State-designated Enterprize Zone which creates tax incentives for businesses to locate in Olde Towne.

Ryan and his colleagues at the groundbreaking of Archstone in Olde Towne in January 2011.

Beyond Olde Towne, we are seeing movement at Crown Farm, Watkins Mill, and Parklands — several cutting-edge new “smart growth” projects that are mixed-use, walkable, and transit-oriented.  There is no denying that a LOT is happening in Gaithersburg, and that we are far ahead of the pack regionally and nationally in terms of municipal economic recovery.  We are not out of the woods yet, but all of this activity in Gaithersburg is a positive sign that our aggressive economic development strategy is working.

But development projects are only one piece of the puzzle.  Another key element of the equation is the growth of high-quality jobs amidst a robust business climate.  Using incentives funded by our Economic Development Toolbox program, we are seeing an incredible wave of high-tech and healthcare company expansions in Gaithersburg.  At our City Council meeting on May 2, 2011, my friend Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve spoke of the high level of competence of our council in managing the city and joked that it seemed like a new biotech company is opening every other day in Gaithersburg!  Indeed, we had a ribbon cutting for Noble Life Sciences in Gaithersburg the same day.  Noble Life joins several other cutting-edge biotech firms that have chosen to locate in Gaithersburg in recent months, including Integrated BioTherapeutics and Zyngenia.  Some of the credit for attracting these great businesses belongs to the Gaithersburg Accelerator, an innovative public-private partnership between the City of Gaithersburg and Scheer Partners.  The Accelerator offers affordable lab space and facilities for “second stage” life sciences companies that have outgrown incubator programs.  Larger companies like MedImmune also continue to grow and add more high-quality jobs to the City.  Geospatial imaging company MDA Information Systems, Inc., is moving to Gaithersburg too, bringing hundreds of good jobs to the City.  Kaiser Permanente is also moving a large array of state-of-the-art medical services to fill 200,000 square feet of space at Watkins Mill.

Smaller retail businesses are also blossoming around the City.  Gaithersburg’s first chocolate factory — Spagnvola — opened in the Kentlands with a fabulous ribbon cutting on April 2.  In recent months the Kentlands has also welcomed Panera, Coal Fire pizza, Bark!, Alliage Salon & Spa, Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape, 16 Handles frozen yogurt (with two locations — one in Kentlands and one in Washingtonian Center), and others.  Elsewhere in the City, businesses like the Slice of Olde Towne pizza shop, which opened in 2010, are thriving. It’s no wonder Money Magazine/CNN said that “Gaithersburg’s ability to attract start-up companies has allowed it to rebound from the recession better than many other places. ”

I am running for re-election to continue the leadership and the policies that have helped foster this renaissance of economic activity in the wake of the recession.  Gaithersburg is on the map as a prime destination for businesses large and small, bringing jobs and contributing to our high quality of life, due in no small part to our laser-like focus on economic development.  But our work is not done, and I ask for your support so I can help lead the City to build upon the many successes we are already seeing.


Sorry, comments are closed for this post.