It is truly an honor to be back at the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC). As I settle into my new, but familiar, office and see many recognizable faces, I am experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu. It is exciting to be back working for Anne Arundel County — the best place to work, live and start a business.

During the last 18 months, I have had the opportunity to participate on several boards and take on special projects around Maryland. I have seen, first-hand, what is effectively working in economic development. I plan to bring this knowledge and fresh perspective to the department and work to do things not differently, but perhaps smarter.

Odenton Town Center

West Anne Arundel County is one of the state’s fastest growing regions, with The National Business Park, Annapolis Junction, Arundel Gateway and Arundel Preserve attracting new business and new families. And the AAEDC will continue to work with developers and the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce to advance the development of the Odenton Town Center.

Construction and function plans for basic utilities and infrastructure of roads, sewer and water are established, and now the second stage of development is in full swing. Town Center Boulevard, a $15 million funding partnership between the Halle Companies and the county, soon will be under construction.

It also will serve as the main connector to the MARC Train Station, the Seven Oaks community, Reese Road and the main gate of Fort Meade. Additional projects of mixed-use developments are near starting. I am committed to supporting the advancement of the development of the Odenton Town Center.

The Anne Arundel County Council’s approval of the tax increment financing (TIF) district within the town center will facilitate further development, as it allows the county to use this financing tool to support utilities, parking structures, parks and other transit oriented development (TOD) projects at the MARC train station. By using this tool to capture increased property tax revenue, we can ensure that funds go toward public improvements in Odenton.

Anne Arundel County has used tax increment funding in the past to spur development with other county projects, such as Annapolis Town Centre, Park Place, Arundel Mills, National Business Park and the mixed-use Waugh Chapel projects.

Small Business Financing

Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in Anne Arundel County. The AAEDC will continue to offer a diversified portfolio of loan programs to help them grow. The finance division has built a strong reputation as an efficient and effective fund manager. For the second year in a row, AAEDC was awarded funds for its VOLT Fund, a loan program to assist small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in the county and around the state.

The state’s Department of Business and Economic Development recently awarded $2 million to AAEDC to manage the second year of its VOLT Fund program. More than $9 million was awarded to six loan fund managers around Maryland, with AAEDC receiving the largest amount to manage. To date, AAEDC has closed approximately $3.1 million in loans to 24 businesses in six counties around Maryland, leveraging almost $9 million in investment and creating and retaining almost 300 jobs.

Another long-standing loan program which focuses on properties located in the 16 designated commercial areas around the county is the Arundel Community Reinvestment (ACR) Fund. Since 2007, AAEDC finance has distributed more than $900,000 in loans to finance improvements to many different businesses, including the Honey Bee Diner, Tennis Warehouse and La Fontaine Bleue, Glen Burnie; Brooklyn Park Gas, Brooklyn Park; and the Mountain Road Shopping Center in Pasadena.

With $500,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, AAEDC’s newest loan program is the Arundel Micro Loan Fund (AMF). This program gives entrepreneurs in designated sustainable communities flexible financing for micro-enterprise startups and expansions. Designated Sustainable Community areas are located in portions of Annapolis, Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie and Odenton/Severn.

Overall, AAEDC provided 19 loans totaling more than $1.6 million in 2014.

With our finance programs, collaboration with the business community and economic development expertise, AAEDC will continue its efforts to increase the overall economic development in the county and create a supporting environment for businesses to grow and thrive.