2020 | Coronavirus

Pandemic recovery plan includes postgraduate research center, job retraining

Business leaders release economic strategy recommendations for county


Logo from Montgomery County

A group of 34 business leaders and three officials in Montgomery County have released a plan for post-pandemic economic recovery. It includes setting up a postgraduate research center in White Flint and retraining programs for unemployed residents in life and regulatory sciences.

The group has been meeting since July and announced its “Economic Roadmap to Recovery & Long-Term Success” report on Thursday afternoon.

Retraining programs for unemployed residents fall under the group’s near-term recommendations.

Some of the plans are being carried out already with programs that have been created in partnership with Montgomery College and The Universities at Shady Grove to provide retraining in bio manufacturing and other science skills.

Montgomery College will launch the pilot four-week “boot camp” program in January and target workers who have been unemployed because of COVID-19. It will also connect program graduates with bio manufacturing employers for new employment.

Another four-week program will be at The Universities at Shady Grove and begin in the upcoming spring semester. It will also target workers who have been out of work because of the pandemic, specifically those with science backgrounds who need more hands-on training.

Other near-term recommendations include:
• expanding an online platform that can provide workers with retraining opportunities and connections with potential employers
• creating a Planning/Permitting Work Group to develop a proposal for reducing the process by a year
• making changes to the subdivision staging policy , including eliminating the housing moratorium
• creating a platform to provide technical assistance and virtual tutorials on the capital-raising process for businesses.

The County Council is currently reviewing proposals for changes to the subdivision staging policy.

One of the group’s long-term recommendations is creating a Center for Life and Regulatory Science Excellence in White Flint that would train postgraduates in pharmaceutical, biotech, health and other focuses.

Another recommendation is to consolidate educational advisory boards to encourage private sector industries to scale the pilot programs and other educational programs.

Other suggestions could prompt the creation of a dedicated county infrastructure fund, replacement of impact taxes with levies on districts benefiting from improvements, and increased housing production.

“The near-term recommended actions should be implemented immediately, and the long-term goals should serve as a foundation to create a transformative economic development strategy to realize the full potential of the county and its assets,” the report said.

The group will meet again in three months to assess progress on the recommendations.

The recommendations are part of four objectives of the report:
● Develop and retain a skilled talent pipeline
● Reimagine economic development to compete in the future
● Address awareness of, access to and availability of capital
● Support key industry sectors, including restaurants, entertainment and hospitality

Doug Firstenber, a principal at real estate development and investment firm Stonebridge, chairs the group. County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council President Sidney Katz and Council Member Andrew Friedson also serve in the group.

Other members of the group are:
● Randy Altschuler of Xometry
● Tope Fajingbesi Balogun of Dodo Farm
● Sameer Bhargava of Clark Construction
● Marla Bilonick of Latino Economic Development Center
● Chris Bruch of The Donohoe Companies
● Robert Butz of Windridge Vineyards
● Kenneth Cook of Revere Bank
● Travis Cutler of Marriott
● Thomas Deyo of Montgomery County Green Bank
● Mark Doyle of Holy Cross Hospital
● Mark Drury of Shapiro & Duncan
● Terry Forde of Adventist Healthcare
● Janice Freeman of African American Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County
● Jeff Galvin of American Gene Technologies
● Angela Graham of Quality Biological
● Jackie Greenbaum of Quarry House
● Peter Henry of HIP Projects
● Cecilia Hodges of M&T Bank
● David Kessler of CohnReznick
● Omar Lazo of Los Chorros
● Haroon Mokhtarzada of Truebill
● James G. Muir III of Hughes Network Systems
● Markus Larsson of Life Assets
● Ron Piervincenzi of United States Pharmacopeia
● Adam Roberts of Bethesda Green
● Jigar Shah of Generate Capital
● Michael Shuman of Institute for Global Communications
● Thomas Senker of MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
● Dan Simons of Founding Farmers
● Dipak Thakker of Stellar IT Solutions
● Colin Thorp of CloudBolt
● Greg Wims of Bold Concepts
● Bing Yao of Viela Bio

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.