Of­fi­cials talk about new busi­ness ini­tia­tives at Fall Meet­ing

Malli­noff says things ‘look on the sunny side’

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter- @SykesIndyNews

Charles County may have once been viewed as a sleepy com­mu­nity out­side of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., but the Charles County Depart­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment is look­ing to change that — both with pub­lic and pri­vate help — as it de­scribed to at­ten­dees at its Fall Meet­ing Tues­day morn­ing.

Things are chang­ing: The county’s new com- pre­hen­sive plan has cen­tral­ized all de­vel­op­ment to the north part of the county and Wal­dorf will be­come the county’s new ur­ban cen­ter.

There are po­ten­tial projects such as the Wal­dorf Civic Cen­ter pro­posed for the Old Wash­ing­ton Road cor­ri­dor, along with beau­ti­fi­ca­tion and street-scap­ing in­fras­truc- ture changes. There is also the po­ten­tial for a new town cen­ter in the Wal­dorf Sta­tion area, cour­tesy of Green­berg Gib­bons’ pur­chase of the prop­erty last week.

Growth is look­ing up for the county and its de­vel­op­ment, Econom- ic De­vel­op­ment Direc- tor Dar­rell Brown said. There will be new jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties culti- vated for busi­ness own­ers and em­ploy­ees.

“Our meet­ing today is about you and all of us,” Brown said. “To­gether, we can en­hance the way we live.”

Charles County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Michael Malli­noff said the county is mov­ing in the same di­rec­tion as its busi­ness fu­ture and is work­ing with the depart­ment to set things up to match the county’s growth pace.

In the last year, the county has cre­ated a new Depart­ment of Rec- reation, Parks and Tourism, started to make in­fra­struc­ture changes on Old Wash­ing­ton Road, hired Steve Kaii Zei­gler as the di­rec­tor of the Plan­ning and Growth Man­age­ment de­part- ment and hired Rhonda Weaver as its new county at­tor­ney.

These changes, along with the county’s Tri- ple-A bond rat­ing, sig­nals a new di­rec­tion for Charles County, he said, and will make the county more at­trac­tive from a busi­ness per­spec­tive.

Over­all, Malli­noff said, things are look­ing up.

“Look on the sunny side,” he said.

The county’s di­rec­tion is set for the next five years with the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strate­gic plan given by the depart­ment. The county com­mis­sion­ers have also ap­proved the depart­ment’s by­laws for an eco­nomic ad­vi­sor y board, for which Brown said mem­bers are cur­rently be­ing se­lected.

The county govern­ment has given a clear in­di­ca­tion they are be­hind the growth of busi­ness in the county, Brown said, by ap­provals of new strate­gies. They also sent a piece of leg­is­la­tion grant­ing busi­ness tax cred­its to some busi­ness own­ers to the South­ern Mary­land del­e­ga­tion last week.

Ja­son Groth, the chief of Re­source and In­fra­struc­ture Man­age­ment in the county, said a big part of pre­par­ing for the county’s fu­ture de­vel­op­ment is cre­at­ing new tran­sit op­tions with light rail and mak­ing sure the in­fra­struc­ture is sus­tain­able in the area with wa­ter and sewage for ad­di­tional de­vel­op­ments.

John Stevens, the chief of Cap­i­tal Ser­vices for the depart­ment of Plan­ning and Growth Man­age­ment, said there are al­ready “sev­eral roads that are un­der­way” with im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing Old Wash­ing­ton Road. The county is also work­ing on the com­ple­tion of Western Park­way and has fu­ture im­prove­ments com­ing on Billings­ley Road, he said.

Tay­lor Yewell, the depart­ment’s Wal­dorf Ur­ban Re­de­vel­op­ment Cor­ri­dor co­or­di­na­tor, said light rail and the state’s SMRT ini­tia­tive would be a boost for the county’s busi­ness prospects. And the “street-scap­ing” on Old Wash­ing­ton Road will fos­ter more open busi­ness and a walk­a­ble com­mu­nity.

“It in­forms pri­vate in­vestors that the county is will­ing to spend,” he said. “It changes ever ything.”

The county, its road­ways and new de­vel­op­ment will be things peo­ple “want to see,” Yewell said.

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