County business development center honored

Photo submitted District 3 Legislator Roy S. Dimond, Montgomery County Business Development Center Director Kenneth F. Rose, Staff Assistant Andrew Santillo, Grant Assistant Karl Gustafson Jr., CFO/Economic Development Specialist Sheila M. Snell, Senior Planner/GIS Specialist Amanda Bearcroft, Marketing Coordinator Michele Marzullo-Pawlik, Legislative Chairman Robert Headwell Jr., and County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort. (Photo submitted)

FONDA — The staff in Montgomery County’s Business Development Center is the brains behind the approximately $19 million in grants secured since 2014 used to boost economic growth, according to a news release.

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Legislature recognized the employees of the MCBDC for their efforts.

“When the new government began we immediately identified the MCBDC was understaffed and I fought to get them the resources they needed,” Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said. “That investment has provided a significant return for the County taxpayers.”

The MCBDC houses the offices and integrates the work of the Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Department, the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and the Montgomery County Capital Resource Corporation.

The MCBDC works in conjunction with these entities to offer tax-exempt bonds with low interest rates. They also actively seek grants for economic development, transportation, disaster mitigation, recreation and other quality of life issues that create incentives. Since 2014, they have acquired close to $19 million in grants. The Montgomery County Agriculture Microenterprise, Exit 29 Redevelopment, Chalmers Redevelopment and the Bike Trail Repaving are a few of the dozens of projects made possible by grants acquired by the MCBDC staff.

“When it comes to the County’s economic development efforts and redevelopment we hope to continue developing stronger plans for the future and keep the local economies moving forward,” Montgomery County Business Development Center Director Kenneth F. Rose said.

Montgomery County Senior Planner and GIS Specialist Amanda Bearcroft said her focus for all communities is to enable high quality of life projects that focus on the well-being of individuals. As Senior Planner, she oversees 21 different municipalities and the County. The MCBDC handles all planning services for Montgomery County and its municipalities and are able to give a definitive view of available property and zoning.

“Since we are dealing with mainly small municipalities, the only way to fund these projects is through grant funding opportunities,” Bearcroft said. ” We need to keep an open dialogue with our communities on what their needs are based on existing plans and discussions, so that when an opportunity arises we are prepared to not only go after funding, but to implement it in the long run,” she continued. “These projects can encompass anything from updating local codes and plans to working with businesses and bolstering economic activity, to creating or expanding on a local park, or creating more waterfront opportunities, working on a historic structure, or looking at transportation improvements.”

The MCBDC also works directly with existing employers to initiate capital investments, foster job creation and mitigate the threat of a business closure or relocation. The local workforce is strengthened through the Montgomery County Works website, which was established to encourage individuals to live and work within the community.

Marketing is another aspect used to attract new businesses and to assist existing businesses in growing and thriving in the community. The staff ensures that Montgomery County’s brand is used to highlight the positive attributes of the County. The MCBDC consistently highlights why Montgomery County is “Made of Something Stronger” through captivating videos, articles and a strong social media presence.

“The Business Development Center has developed a new marketing brand that started back in 2014 and keeps growing,” Economic Development Marketing Coordinator Michele Marzullo-Pawlik said. “We are proud of our marketing efforts and making the county stronger every day.”

Bearcroft said moving forward, the MCBDC’s goals are limitless as long as the community is invested in seeing the work accomplished.

“There has been so much community improvement and buy-in in the past couple of years and I would love to see that continue into the future,” Bearcroft said. “We can only become a stronger county through the success of our municipalities.”

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