With a new year upon us, I am very optimistic about Anne Arundel County’s business climate and the continued progress of major economic development projects. I look forward to working more with Julie Mussog, who has been at the helm of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) as its CEO for only a few months. As the county’s controller from 2013 to 2016, her extensive experience in finance was valuable to our budget and operational considerations; she also played a key role in understanding the tax implications of major projects, and that perspective will be very helpful in her new role leading our economic development efforts.

Mussog shares my priorities for expanding Anne Arundel County’s business community. Number one on that list is to attract new business to the county. I expect the AAEDC to be at the forefront of marketing our amenities and opportunities to entrepreneurs, executives and key decision-makers, in and outside of our county.

We continue to be committed to assisting our existing businesses with their expansion plans. Whether it’s helping them find space, business planning, connecting to sources of capital or navigating the permitting process, our economic development team stands ready to help facilitate the growth of business.

Connecting employers to a trained workforce will continue to be a challenge for businesses and we have resources in place that can help. The efforts of Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. and Anne Arundel Community College will ensure that we’re training people to have the right skills for the jobs that are being created in different parts of the county.

We continue to focus on special projects that will make a major impact, not just on our local economy, but on the state level. I was heartened to learn of the recent decision by state leaders to approve Northrop Grumman Corp.’s $20 million loan from the state’s Sunny Day fund. The funding will support the company’s plan to acquire a 300,000-square-foot facility in Linthicum and maintain 10,000 employees in our state, many of them Anne Arundel County residents.

In West County, plans are proceeding for a mixed-use transit oriented development at the Odenton MARC Station. Anne Arundel County, the Maryland Department of Transportation and a private development team known as Odenton TS Ventures are partners on this public-private project. Odenton TS Ventures members are Bozzuto, Osprey and Reliable Contracting. The plan, which will be submitted for preliminary review in the coming weeks, includes structured parking with 944 spaces for MARC commuters, 280 apartments and 19,000 square feet of retail space.

The continued development of Odenton and West County is very important to our economy. The forces and the factors that are driving the area’s growth are enormous and will continue to increase for at least another generation. Cybersecurity and information technologies of varying kinds are all going to be a very big part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Anne Arundel County is positioned to play an indispensable role in the nation’s defense in those sectors.

Last but certainly not least, the expansion of Maryland Live! will help keep the Arundel Mills entertainment and shopping district one of the top tourist destinations in the mid-Atlantic. We continue to work with the Cordish Companies as it adds a 17-story hotel, spa and convention center to Maryland Live! The project, which is expected to open in late 2017/early 2018, is a $200 million investment in Anne Arundel County. It will create approximately 550 construction jobs and 400 new jobs for local and regional residents. A substantial public benefit of this project is that our high schools will be able to use the convention center for their graduations.

With such an ambitious economic development agenda, I am excited about the prospect of continued growth for our county. We look forward to working with all our government, development and business partners in seizing new opportunities and moving our county forward in 2017.