Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Council Schedule for the Rest of the Week

The Montgomery County Council, due to the major weekend storm that hit the Washington area, has postponed a Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Clarksburg on Wednesday evening, Jan. 27, and a public hearing scheduled for Thursday evening, Jan. 28, on the Westbard Master Plan.
The Council postponed and rescheduled several meetings and events planned Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 25-26, as the County Government was closed.

At this time, a planned meeting of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, tentatively will go on as scheduled. The agenda for that meeting includes spending affordability guidelines for the Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget and for the FY17 capital budget. There also is a planned preliminary review of the County’s cable television and communications plan and a worksession on Expedited Bill 49-15, which addresses aspects of the County’s ethics law.
The updated Council calendar for this week, including dates of rescheduling:

Originally scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 27
  • 7:30 p.m. Council Town Hall Meeting at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg was postponed. No reschedule date has been determined.
Meetings/events originally scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28
  • 9:30 a.m. Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee is currently scheduled to be held as planned.
  • 9:30 a.m. meeting of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee was cancelled.
  • 2 p.m. joint meeting of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee and the Public Safety Committee was postponed. A reschedule date has not yet been determined.7:30 p.m. second section of public hearing on Westbard Master Plan was postponed. It has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Meetings/events that were originally scheduled for Monday, Jan. 25

  • 9:30 a.m. Public Safety Committee meeting was postponed. Rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 1.
  • 9:30 a.m. Health and Human Services Committee meeting was postponed. Rescheduled for Monday, March 7.
  • 2 p.m. Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee was cancelled. Items moved to Monday, Feb. 1, PHED meeting.
  • 2 p.m. Education Committee was cancelled. Items moved to various future committee.
Meetings/events that were originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 26:

  • 7:30 p.m. first section of public hearing on Westbard Master Plan was postponed. It has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
  • Council’s weekly general session was cancelled.
Further updates on the County Council schedule can be found at the Council web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council. Traffic and weather updates specific to the County can be found on County Cable Montgomery (CCM: Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) throughout the storm period.


County Executive Ike Leggett today pledged that all neighborhood streets in Montgomery County should receive a least one pass from a snowplow by 7 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 27.

“Given the progress we have made, I believe that every neighborhood road should be passable by 7 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 27,” County Executive Leggett said today. “That means that they should have received at least one pass from a plow and residents should be able to get out of their neighborhood.”

County Executive Leggett emphasized that this would not necessarily mean streets cleared to bare pavement and reminded residents that County crews would continue to work around-the-clock to improve street conditions and handle any missed streets.

After 7 a.m. Wednesday, residents who have missed streets should report them on the County’s Snow Operations Map or go to www.mc311.com. Residents can contact the County’s centralized phone answering system MC311 by dialing 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311.

County's Snow Info for January 26

Here's the full press release:
Due to continuing winter storm impacts, County Executive Ike Leggett said that he is extending the State of General Emergency and that County government and County facilities will remain closed on Tuesday, January 26. All essential employees are required to report to work.
Trash and recycling collections will be suspended for Tuesday. However, the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station will be open for commercial customers for limited service. The Shady Grove Road entrance for large loads at the Transfer Station will open at 10 AM and remain open until 5 PM. The Public Drop-off Areas and the Recycling Center will remain closed.
Free parking at County garages and lots will be extended until Wednesday, January 27 at 9 AM.
Ride On will run limited bus service tomorrow, Tuesday, January 26th, from 10 AM to 6 PM. Service will be limited to priority routes. Those routes are: 1,5, 8, 15, 16, 17, 23, 30, 34, 43, 46, 47, 55, 56, 59, 83 and 100. Riders should expect some delays and detours due to snow conditions. Go to Ride On schedule on website for more information.

Monday, January 25, 2016

County's Snow Info for January 25

Here's the full press release:
For Immediate Release: Monday, January 25, 2016
  • Montgomery County government & facilities will be closed on Monday, January 25.
  • No trash & recycling pickup on Monday. Residents should NOT take their items to the curb.
  • Montgomery County Public Schools will not be in session Monday, January 25 and Tuesday, January 26.
  • Ride On bus service will not be operating on Monday, January 25.
  • Free parking in County garages and parking lots is extended until Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 9 a.m.
  • All County liquor stores will be closed on Monday, January 25.
  • Historic snowfall of nearly 3 feet means that clearance of roads includes not only plowing but also hauling away record amounts of snow.
  • Challenges: in many places snow cannot just be pushed to the side, but must be hauled out. Below freezing temperatures mean even cleared roads ice overnight.
  • County crews continue to work 24/7.
  • Priority: first clear 1000 lane miles of emergency and primary roads. Only after that is finished are plows and trucks into the neighborhoods.
  • Next: clear 4000 lane miles of neighborhood roads. Initial object: to make them passable, not bare pavement. Then come follow-up runs to complete the work.
  • The County urges Montgomery County residents to clear snow from sidewalks in front of their homes as is possible. Any enforcement for now of sidewalk snow removal will be reasonable and follow common sense.
  • For public safety, clear snow in a three-foot radiance from fire hydrants.
  • Parking lot managers for commercial and residential parking lots are urged not to block disability parking spaces during their snow removal efforts.
  • Bottom line: be assured we continue to work as hard as possible but recovery will be a MULTI day event.
  • Continue to stay at home. Stay off the roads so we can get the job done and public safety and emergency personnel can reach those in critical need.
  • The County’s 311 Call Center is open 24/7 for the storm. Call 311 or 240-777-0311.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Council Cancellations for Monday

Here is the latest update on Council meeting cancellations for next week:
Monday, Jan. 25
  • 12:30 p.m. State Legislation meeting is cancelled.
  • 2 p.m. PHED Committee is cancelled – items moved to Feb. 1 PHED meeting.
  •  2 p.m. EDUCATION Committee is cancelled – items moved to various dates
  • 9:30 a.m. Health and Human Services Committee meeting scheduled is postponed. Rescheduled for March 7.
Tuesday, Jan. 26:
  • Evening public hearing on Westbard Master Plan is postponed to Tuesday, Feb. 2.
  •  AT THIS TIME: Weekly general session will start as scheduled at 10 a.m.

Real Time Plowing Info on the County's Snow Map

As you prepare for the impending blizzard, bookmark the County's snow map. The online tool will show the progress of snow plows throughout the County and indicate when emergency roads, primary neighborhood streets and neighborhood streets have been cleared. A zoom feature allows you to focus on the plow status of your immediate neighborhood and surrounding streets and then zoom out to check on an entire trip route.

Each road category, whether an emergency/main route or neighborhood street, is designated on the map by a different color. Patterns are used to show whether plowing has begun or not, is in progress or complete.

The map includes a handy icon that allows you to see road views from any of the County’s nearly 200 traffic cameras. The online map system also allows you to easily report an intersection that needs additional sand or salt, a missed street, or a damaged mailbox.

Since many roads in the County are not cleared by the County’s Department of Transportation, it can be confusing for residents. All State-maintained, numbered roads (such as Georgia Avenue/Maryland Route 97 or Rockville Pike/Maryland Route 355) in the County are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration. A link to information from MSHA about their plowing progress is also available.

Other departments, outside agencies and governmental jurisdictions also have responsibility for plowing. They include the Montgomery County Board of Education; the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission; the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro); municipalities; and homeowner’s associations. Commercial parking lot owners plow their own properties and are prohibited from moving snow into the street.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Council Asks Governor to Reinstate Plans for Full Watkins Mill Interchange

The nine members of the Montgomery County Council have sent a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Peter Rahn, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, asking that the state proceed with the original design of the long-planned interchange at I-270 and Watkins Mill Road in Gaithersburg. It was recently learned that the State planned to significantly scale back the project.

“Last week we were dismayed to learn that the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has delayed indefinitely the notice to proceed to construct the planned I-270/Watkins Mill Road interchange, and that MDOT is seriously considering proceeding without ramps from Watkins Mill Road to I-270, and perhaps without either on- or off-ramps,” states the letter. “We insist that plans for anything less than the full interchange be dismissed and that MDOT proceed with the project as designed immediately.”

The letter goes on to say: “Nothing short of a full interchange is acceptable. With an interchange, traffic at the MD 124/MD 355 intersection—now operating at more than 25 percent over capacity—and at the regularly congested MD 117/MD 124 intersection would finally get some relief. All these are State highways upon which our residents and businesses depend.”

The full text of the letter:

January 19, 2016

The Honorable Larry Hogan Governor  
State of Maryland                                              
100 State Circle                                                 
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925                        
Mr. Pete Rahn, Secretary  
Maryland Department of Transportation
7201 Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 548
Hanover, Maryland 21076
Dear Governor Hogan and Secretary Rahn:

            Last week we were dismayed to learn that the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has delayed indefinitely the notice to proceed to construct the planned I-270/Watkins Mill Road interchange, and that MDOT is seriously considering proceeding without ramps from Watkins Mill Road to I-270, and perhaps without either on- or off-ramps. We insist that plans for anything less than the full interchange be dismissed and that MDOT proceed with the project as designed immediately. 

This interchange was identified as a need more than two decades ago, at which point it was part of MDOT’s upper I-270 project planning study. Recognizing its need in the shorter term, MDOT established the interchange as a stand-alone project in the FY1999-2004 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP): 17 years ago. It has remained one of our highest State transportation priorities over the last decade. During the Transportation Trust Fund’s lean times we provided $4.9 million in County funds to allow MDOT to continue progress in designing the full interchange. The City of Gaithersburg has dedicated about 23 acres of land for the full interchange. In 2013 the State fully funded this interchange in exchange for our support of the gasoline tax increase that year. With its programing in the CTP, we have dropped it from our priorities letter, knowing that it was a “given.” The news of a potential delay and down-scoping of this interchange has already caused much distress in the business community and among our Upcounty residents. 

Nothing short of a full interchange is acceptable. With an interchange, traffic at the MD 124/MD 355 intersection—now operating at more than 25 percent over capacity—and at the regularly congested MD 117/MD 124 intersection would finally get some relief. All these are State highways upon which our residents and businesses depend. The full interchange will also provide direct access to—and egress from—MDOT’s Metropolitan Grove MARC station for commuters from Frederick County and upper Montgomery County. The full interchange will also provide access to and egress from the northern terminus of the first phase of the Corridor Cities Transitway.

Furthermore, much economic development is predicated on a full interchange. Phase 2 of the Spectrum development, which is dependent on I-270 access and egress, will consist of 360,000sf of office, 14,400sf of mixed use (bank/service), 80,600sf of mixed use (retail, restaurant), and a 184-room hotel with 10,000sf of retail. There are several other projects that are approved and in the pipeline that are contingent on a full interchange:

  • FedEx has received entitlements to locate a distribution center on the old IBM Campus which would bring 300 new jobs.
  • The Humane Society is now considering making their Gaithersburg location their National Headquarters.
  • Lockheed Martin (700 North Frederick Avenue), through a 2015 acquisition of another company, is considering the addition of employment at its existing facility. Preliminary discussions with the company focused on the already challenging road access and traffic volume at the company’s entrance and the ability of the new, full interchange to offer relief.
 The area adjacent to the I-270/Watkins Mill interchange has attracted significant employers and institutional investors, who made investment decisions that assumed construction of a full interchange based upon public commitments by the State of Maryland.  Because of the announced highway improvements, properties on the east and west sides of I-270 at this location have become hub for biotechnology companies and professional services. Recent activity has included:
  • Emergent Biosolutions, Inc. (relocation of headquarters; acquisition in 2013 of 130,000sf at 400 Professional Drive; value of $17 million)
  • Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (expansion and relocation to 50 West Watkins Mill Road; space under construction; 30,000sf; occupancy 2016)
  • MRI Global Research Institute (relocation, expansion and acquisition of 65 West Watkins Mill Road in 2015; 45,000sf; value of $8 million)
  • Sale of 25, 35, 45 West Watkins Mill in 2013 and again in 2015 (three biotechnology buildings totaling 140,000sf, accommodating expansion of MedImmune and Amplimmune; value of $31 million)
  • Hampton Inn (newly constructed hotel at 960 N. Frederick Avenue; access via Watkins Mill Road; value of $15 million) 

 Currently, the Maryland Department of Commerce has a commitment letter with a biotechnology prospect for a location that would also be served by the new, full interchange. Capital investment for that project is estimated as high as $150 million. These are only a few examples of how important the full interchange not only benefits Gaithersburg and Montgomery County but the whole region.

Therefore, in the strongest terms we urge you to reinstate the schedule for the full interchange so that it will go under construction this spring and be completed in FY2019, as shown in the Draft FY2016-2021 CTP.


Nancy Floreen, President             Roger Berliner, Vice President    Marc Elrich       
Montgomery County Council      Montgomery County Council      Montgomery County Council

Tom Hucker                                 Sidney Katz                                  George Leventhal          
Montgomery County Council      Montgomery County Council      Montgomery County Council

Nancy Navarro                             Craig Rice                                    Hans Riemer     
Montgomery County Council      Montgomery County Council      Montgomery County Council

cc: The Honorable Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive
       The Honorable Jud Ashman, Mayor, City of Gaithersburg
       The Honorable Nancy King, Chair, Montgomery County Senate Delegation
       The Honorable Shane Robinson, Chair, Montgomery County House Delegation
       Mr. Casey Anderson, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board
       Mr. Al Roshdieh, Acting Director, Montgomery County Department of Transportation

Friday, January 15, 2016

Neighborhood Niches Highlights Garrett Park

County Cable Montgomery's program, Neighborhood Niches, was created to look at the aspects of specific communities that make each one special—not only from other communities in the County, but often, in comparison to neighborhoods around the Washington Region. According to the show's producer, Susan Kenedy, "Some things are evident about a community just by driving through it, but our show will look for things you may only find by driving down a side street or talking to people who help make those neighborhood’s thrive. Our goal is to allow viewers to learn about places in Montgomery County they may not often visit, and for the residents of the neighborhoods, to perhaps tell them things that even they never know.” This episode features Garrett Park, including our Chevy houses, our post office and our long history. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Town Hall Meeting in Clarksburg--New Date

Updated February 8: this meeting has been rescheduled from January 27 to March 2.

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Clarksburg area on Wednesday, March 2. The meeting will be held at the Rocky Hill Middle School (22401 Brick Haven Way, just off Route 355) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Holiday Schedule for Martin Luther King Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday January 18:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed Sunday, January 17 and Monday, January 18
  • County Liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – aquatics programs and facilities open; all other classes and programs canceled; Administrative office, senior centers and community centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks - for operating schedule, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org
  • Ride On –Modified holiday schedule (check schedules at www.Rideonbus.com)
  • Metrorail – Will operate from 5 a.m. to midnight on a Saturday schedule. Off-peak fares all day and free parking at all Metro-operated facilities.
  • Metrobus – Metrobus will operate on its Saturday supplemental schedule. MetroAccess will operate normal hours with subscription trips cancelled unless specifically requested. Additional information available at www.wmata.com.
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) -- closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices and courts – closed

    *Collection for Friday provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Statement on Deportation Threats Against County Residents

Here's the full joint statement from the County Executive and Council:

Our nation faces a significant humanitarian challenge in how we deal with the thousands of children and families fleeing violence in Central America. Current conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras merit granting special temporary protection to these children and parents who have legitimate reason to fear for their lives if returned to their countries. 

We recognize that the recently announced federal policy is narrowly crafted to apply only to those who have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court. But the obvious truth is that many of these children and parents have not had adequate legal representation in these proceedings. No deportations should take place without ensuring that the person to be deported received adequate representation and due process of law under our Constitution. 

Imagine being a teenager in a formal process in a forbidding setting in a strange land where they speak a language you do not understand. What chance would you have? 

These children and parents deserve an opportunity to have their cases presented properly as they seek refuge in our nation. And for those ordered to be deported after receiving due process, no deportations should take place unless the federal government guarantees legally required family reunification and support to help them live in their own countries safely. Failure to guarantee these essential protections is unthinkable as it will deliver them back to the very violence and human trafficking that caused many of them to flee to the United States.

We in Montgomery County, especially our public safety officers, have worked extremely hard to build trust with our immigrant population. We are convinced this is the key to reducing crime and building a thriving, welcoming community where all can live in peace. 

We are very concerned that any federal enforcement actions in our county not undermine this trust and threaten public safety in our community. 

We want all of our community members to know that they are free to go about their daily life, to go to schools and work, social service agencies, hospitals and medical clinics, community organizations and public buildings, as well as grocery stores and other commercial areas. 

We respectfully recommend that federal authorities proceed with great caution and respect for the values of our country and requirements of our Constitution. Please take the time necessary to ensure that any deportation is based on a court action only after due process and, if the deportation is ruled to be appropriate, carried out with the protections required by law. 

Please assure us that our residents are free to go to school and work, attend services at their faith congregations, seek needed medical attention, and ask for help from our police without fear. A warrant to arrest one person must not be used to round up many. 

We applaud the recent federal budget commitment to spend $750 million to address the root causes that have led people to flee Central America. We ask that the federal government dramatically step up the pace of the existing Central American Minors Program to provide a legal in-country path for children with parents lawfully in the United States. And we ask that local governments here in the United States be given adequate federal support for receiving these children and helping them reunite with their parents.

To the members of our Montgomery County community who are justifiably concerned about the federal government’s most recent deportation actions, we encourage you to go about your daily activities free of fear. 

Go to your schools, work, and faith congregations, social service agencies, hospitals and medical clinics, community organizations and public buildings, as well as grocery stores and other commercial areas. 

Continue helping us work hard every day to make Montgomery County one of the very best places to live, work, play, and age with dignity in the nation. 

Please know that our county police will play no role in enforcing federal immigration law. If you have reason to need help from our police, do not be afraid to call on them. 

We will continue to work closely with our community-based nonprofit and faith based partners to develop ongoing “know your rights” training around the county, increase pro bono legal support, and develop and distribute educational materials as part of a bilingual public information campaign. 

We are proud of the people who have come to Montgomery County from every corner of the globe. You have enriched our community, and you will always be welcome here. Some of us have had the privilege of traveling to our Sister City in Morazán, El Salvador where we experienced the beauty of Central America and the graciousness of its people. We know that if we all act with calm and dignity and work together, we have the capacity to get through these difficult times and improve the lives of those who have come to our country and those who remain in their native lands.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Charter Review Commission to Hold Public Hearing

Do you have ideas for making our Charter better? Voice them on January 20. Here is the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., December 29, 2015—The Montgomery County Charter Review Commission is seeking suggestions from County residents on possible amendments to the County Charter. The commission will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Rockville in which suggested changes to the Charter will be heard.

The public hearing will be held in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

In case of snow on Jan. 20, the alternate hearing date will be Monday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. 
To sign up to speak at the hearing, residents can call 240-777-7928 or email charterreview.commission@montgomerycountymd.gov.

The Charter is the constitutional framework for County government. Charter Section 509 provides for an 11-member, bi-partisan Charter Review Commission to study the Montgomery County Charter. The Charter requires that the Commission next report to the County Council in May of 2016. Any recommendations for possible Charter revisions would be considered by County voters.

One issue the CRC is considering is an amendment that would allow special elections to fill any vacancies in the office of County Executive. Currently special elections are permitted for Council vacancies, but not Executive vacancies.

Residents can also testify about issues concerning the County Charter, including how tax rates are set and term limits of elected officials.

Suggestions can be submitted to the Charter Review Commission in writing to: Charter Review Commission, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850. Suggestions and comments also can be e-mailed to: charterreview.commission@montgomerycountymd.gov.

The Charter Review Commission is appointed by the Council every four years. Its meetings are open to the public. No more than six members are from the same political party. The current members are Chair Paul Bessel, Vice Chair Sharon Freeman, Wendy Cohen, Jennifer Hunt, A. Lawrence Lauer, Timothy Lighter, Joshua Lipsky, Randy McDonald, Angela Rey, Aryeh Shudofsky and Edward Wisneski.

More information about the County Charter can be found at http://www.amlegal.com/codes/client/montgomery-county_md/ or at http://bessel.org/charter/charter.htm.

Monday, January 4, 2016

What's In and What's Out for 2016

Here are my picks for what's in and what's out in 2016:

In -- Jobs:  Almost 10,000 more County residents have jobs this year.
Out --  Electronic Cigarettes:  The use of electronic cigarettes is banned wherever traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited. The law also requires child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine. I proposed this legislation because I was not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people.
In -- Science:  Michael Hofmann Winer was named one of three first-place winners in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition. He received the First Place Medal of Distinction for Innovation and a cash prize of $150,000.
Out -- Predatory Towing:  The new law limits some of the practices that have led to the predatory towing of vehicles parked on private properties, including a prohibition on the use of spotters.
In -- Good Neighbors:  I presented 20 Golden Shovel awards to recognize residents (like these snow angels) who helped neighbors shovel out after snowfalls during the harsh winter that had seasonal snow totals of up to 46.6 inches in parts of the county.
In -- Aspen Hill:  The Aspen Hill Minor Master Plan Amendment will provide opportunities for re-use of the former Vitro/BAE property in a way that focuses on design and encourages pedestrian use.
Out -- Pesticides:  Having dealt with breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. All residents, and particularly our children, stand to benefit from the County's restrictions on cosmetic use of pesticides.
In -- Budget Savings:  In response to projected revenue shortfalls, we reduced the current fiscal year budget by $54 million in July. This is the first time we approved a savings plan so early in the fiscal year.
In -- New Council Leadership:  I'm very pleased to have been elected Council president in a unanimous vote of my colleagues. Roger Berliner was elected vice president, and we will serve one-year terms.
In -- Economic Development:  Five years ago, in the depth of the Great Recession, we launched the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a public-private partnership designed to fuel our economy. This past year, we took that achievement to the next level by creating a new Economic Development Corporation -- moving us from a government- to a business-based model for County economic success.