County Launches Online Business Survey
Questionnaire is next step in 4Business initiative
County Executive Marc Elrich announces the Business Connect program in May.
After meeting with several business owners over the past two months, Montgomery County has launched a survey to get more feedback.
The 4Business Climate Survey is the latest information-gathering tool from the 4Business: Benchmarking to Be the Best for Business initiative. It was created through focus sessions with the business community.
Responses will help county officials decide how to improve the business community and enhance the relationship between the government and residents, according to a county news release on Wednesday announcing the survey.
The survey’s 55 questions are divided into general business background, the county’s business environment, county procurement requirements and ease of governmental access.
“It is important that the business community take the survey to let us know what works, what does not, what we can do to help, and what is needed to foster a supportive and welcoming relationship with our businesses,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement.
Elrich and County Council Vice President Sidney Katz launched 4Business: Benchmarking to Be the Best for Business in the spring. Both officials toured the county to meet with business owners to discuss flaws and possible fixes to the current business environment.
Elrich and Katz then debuted Business Connect, a small-business assistance hub offering free training, workshops and counseling to local business owners.
The program is based out of the regional service center in Germantown, but Elrich has said he plans to expand it to other service centers by next year.
The survey is available on the county’s website[add link] and will be open through Sept. 30.
Katz called it a “natural step” after the listening sessions.
“I look forward to having many responses to guide us as we begin to identify the best ways to implement the necessary programmatic and legislative strategies to encourage businesses to locate, expand, and thrive in Montgomery County,” Katz said in a statement.
Elrich and Katz will host two meetings with the business community after the survey closes to discuss its results, along with information residents provided at a half-dozen listening sessions and through the 4Business website.
A common theme during the listening sessions has been an inability to locate or use the county’s business assistance offerings.
Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce president Marilyn Balcombe said local business owners ask the chamber about the county’s business programs, unsure where to go with concerns and needs.
“Sometimes it’s just hard for small businesses to navigate that,” Balcombe said. “… There’s help out there. Businesses just don’t know about it.”
Balcombe provided public comment at the sixth and final listening session on June 10, touching on the difficulties for chamber members going through the development process.
Elrich highlighted this concern at the Business Connect launch, and even cut down on some permit paperwork directly after hearing complaints.
“He has committed to cutting the red tape and trying to make these systems more effective,” Balcombe said.
Charlie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org