Howard County Executive Calvin Ball delivered the 2nd Annual Howard County State of Business address virtually to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. Ball noted the economic challenges and uncertainty Howard County faces in the upcoming year but also highlighted the quick actions and relief efforts through the HoCo RISE Business grants to support local businesses and additional steps to take on the road to recovery.
“We know that the road to recovery from this pandemic will be a long process, but there is much we can do to reignite our economy and get people back to work,” said Ball. “With business relief grants, our local business initiative, and innovative tools to make owning and operating a business in Howard County easier, we’re working together to make sure the Howard County continues to have a strong and prosperous business community.”
Ball also emphasized his administration’s commitment to including more local businesses in the County’s procurement process. He noted that in fiscal 2018, the county spent $4 million with local businesses, and in fiscal 2020, it spent more than $16 million, with a 56 percent increase during last year.
Additionally, he announced the Restaurant Wizard, an online tool that will consolidate permitting information from the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits; the Department of Planning and Zoning; and the Health Department. The tool will help prospective restaurant owners quickly identify what permitting is needed for their specific situation, making it an easier process overall.
Ball also highlighted current forecasts predicting job growth, particularly in the professional and business services sectors, that will drive demand for additional commercial space over the next 20 years. He noted the county needs to invest in commercial growth over the coming years to meet an estimated 59,000 jobs added to the county by 2040.
The event also featured an update on Long Reach Rising, the revitalization of the Long Reach Village Center, in Columbia. Following his remarks, Ball and Howard County Chamber of Commerce President Leonardo McClarty discussed the Howard County General Plan, HoCo By Design, affordable housing and expanding transportation options, increasing internet access, and ongoing support for small businesses.
View the address online HERE.