QAC Adopts Rules for New Economic Development Push for Existing Businesses
The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution March 10, that will strengthen and help local businesses; however, it passed with the caveat that there would be further fleshing out of the rules and regulations.
Those rules and regulations were unanimously approved March 24, when Economic Development Director, Jamie Gilbert presented the fine points of the Business Reinvestment and Infrastructure Development Grant Enterprise (BRIDGE) to the Queen Anne's County Commissioners. At the heart of the BRIDGE Program is the belief that expansion and retention of existing industry should be the highest priority when it comes to allocating the county's resources.
Commissioner Paul Comfort said, "I am excited the county is ready to move forward implementing our new BRIDGE Economic Development Program which will allow the county to assist existing businesses to add jobs so our residents can quit-the-bridge and live, work and play right here in Queen Anne's County."
Gilbert said, "Directing incentives to growing Queen Anne's County businesses that are making significant contributions to the local economy makes economic sense and it's the right thing to do. We can't ignore the needs of businesses that have made a financial commitment to our community and then expect new ones to want to locate here. The BRIDGE Program sends a clear message that existing companies come first."
"Any effective economic development plan for a subdivision starts with attention to the current bench strength of employers," said Commissioner Mark Anderson. "This innovative BRIDGE program recommended by our new Economic Director, Jamie Gilbert, provided objective criteria for those competing for the funds available each year. Our new County Commission believes QAC is 'open for business' to create jobs and added commercial tax base to improve our County's quantity and quality of expected services to our citizens while maintaining an equitable tax rate for all."
The program is funded through a portion of recordation taxes. Commissioner Paul Comfort noted that this is unique from the existing Economic Development Incentive Fund in that it allows funds to be used for infrastructure, which can be just as important as constructing a new facility.
Applicants for BRIDGE Program grant funds must be an existing business or undertaking a site redevelopment project (infill development). The project must be in one of four target sectors; advanced manufacturing, agriculture/seafood, high technology (IT, cyber security, life sciences, etc.) or tourism. The project must have a commitment to maintaining and/or creating at least 50 full time jobs, and the recipient must commit to a minimum capital investment of $250,000.
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