ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Council interviewed five appointees for the board of directors of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation during its weekly meeting Tuesday.
Five business leaders were appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett to serve on the MCEDC’s board. Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) said he did not anticipate any trouble in their confirmation process.
The MCEDC is a public-private corporation created in 2015 between Montgomery and local companies to promote economic development in the County. County Executive Leggett appoints members of the board for one-, two- or three-year terms, while the County Council votes on whether to confirm the appointees or not. Part of the MCEDC’s goal is to attract and retain businesses.
“We are in this period of time when this corporation is still finding its sea legs and we have a lot of work to do,” Berliner said.
Of the five members the County Council interviewed on Tuesday, four are current members – James Brady, Terry Forde, Ronald Paul and Sanjay Rai – that Leggett appointed again for another one-year term. The fifth member, Carmen Larsen, was appointed to replace Cidalia LuisAkbar.
Since Tuesday’s interview served mostly as a formality for the five appointees, members of the County Council used the opportunity to ask the board members about the MCEDC’s mission, something that the organization is still trying to define.
Robert Buchanan, a current member of the MCEDC’s board of directors, said the MCEDC is focused mainly on keeping talent in the County and attracting talent from elsewhere.
“It boils down to one word – talent,” Buchanan said. “If you can attract talent, if you can retain talent and in some instances retrain that talent, your community will be fine.”
Council member George Leventhal (D-at large) said the MCEDC needs to be more inclusive to small businesses and help promote and market the County’s diverse population for businesses. Council member Craig Rice (D-2) said the MCEDC has still not clearly marketed the County to businesses outside the County.
“That’s why when I think you hear folks on the dais give a little pushback, it’s because we’re still waiting for that piece of it,” Rice said.
MCEDC board members said Montgomery County faces a lot of challenges for prospective businesses, citing the high cost of living as one of the chief reasons why some businesses chose not to move to the County.
Council member Sindey Katz (D-3), who used to own a small business in Gaithersburg, suggested the MCEDC interview representatives from companies to find out what either attracts them or deters them from coming to Montgomery County.
“We should at least know why that business did come here and why that business didn’t,” Katz said.