Economic Development Plan
Charles County must create a common theme that focuses on jobs and economic opportunity for every resident. The theme must be respectful and acknowledge legitimate concerns about the impact that future growth in the county may have on the overall environment.
The current administration has failed to establish a cohesive economic development plan beyond making it clear that our county views commercial /business expansion as being a cancer. Our economic development plan would include:
- Focus on Research and Development Incubators
- International Trade and Business Development
- Renewable Energy
- Business Expansion Fund (allocate $5 million initially)
- Maryland Airport Subarea Plan
- Town of Indian Head Redevelopment Project
- WURC Transit Oriented Development Project
- County-wide high-speed Internet
- Alternative Farming initiatives - using Loudoun County, Virginia as a model
- An Enhanced Transportation Program, which includes completion of Western Parkway, Post Office Road and a streamlined Inter-County Connector that would connect Waldorf to the western side of the County, as well as consideration of a different location that will not impact the Mattowomen Creek
- Reinstatement of the Housing Authority
- A Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing
- Develop and implementation of the “Smart City” Concept, Integrated Public service costs
- Creation of an Inter-Faith Council
Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program
Our Economic Development plan will focus on building up the County’s present population of small and disadvantaged businesses. In 2005, I took part in the establishment of the county’s Minority Business Enterprise Program. During my first term as a County Commissioner for District 3, I assisted in the implementation of the Charles County program that now includes over 500 registered MBE/SLBE eligible firms. The County program is not a set-aside program. The County has set the ‘goal’ of 25% MBE/SLBE participation in the receipt of county contracts and purchases.
The county’s MBE program is a good start; however, much can be done to improve the program overall. For starters, it is time for the County to consider the establishment of a separate MBE Enforcement office, which would be led by an MBE Chief/Director. The primary purpose of the office would be to monitor MBE and SLBE statistics and participation.
The county needs to conduct a disparity study to determine if there is an actual disparity between white male owned companies receiving a larger percentage of County contracts and whether or not the minority businesses in the County are receiving their fair share of contracts. The program in its present form relies purely on the goodwill of the major firms that do business in the County. While MBE participation is strongly encouraged, there is no penalty for failing to achieve the County’s 25% participation goal.
Another challenge for MBE/SLBE businesses is the limited access to business capital, including debt and venture capital. The lack of a cohesive county-based, angel investors program has created barriers for small businesses in Charles County to thrive.
Charles County Economic Development Incentive Programs
I have always believed that the military base in Indian Head creates the foundation for the residual effect of a robust private sector Research and Development (R&D) business community. The County should provide businesses with R&D tax credits that incur qualified research and development expenses.
Environmental Stewardship Incentive
I propose that local businesses that manufacture products or incorporate operating practices that are found to have a positive impact on the environment may be eligible to receive a local income tax credit for the practices.