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Investing in Frederick’s future economic development

County Council Candidate Justin Kiska (R)

(4/2018) As the battle rages on between pro and anti-growth forces in Frederick County, another type of development often times goes unthought-of by the majority of residents. That is economic and commercial development. While no one wants to see tens of thousands of new houses just popping up around the county, we do need to be aggressively encouraging and investing in Frederick’s future economic development.

While serving as the president of The Golden Mile Alliance – an organization created to help revitalize a major commercial corridor in the City of Frederick – I was involved with economic development plans for the west side of the city. The goal of the GMA wasn’t just to attract new businesses to Route 40, but to continue supporting those already there. From my experience leading that organization, and as a business owner myself, I know firsthand what challenges employers and job creators are dealing with on a daily basis.

For a very long time, the state of Maryland as a whole has been thought to be extremely unfriendly to businesses. The rules and regulations, which seem to be constantly changing without any notice or warning, stifle any sort of forward momentum and make it difficult for anyone to actually follow their dream of opening a business, let alone turning it into a successful enterprise. But in 2015, Governor Larry Hogan declared Maryland was "open for business." He was focused on making the state business-friendly and finding ways to encourage entrepreneurship.

On a more local scale, the issues were the same. Government seemed to be more of an obstacle to economic development than anything else. Frustration reigned supreme because of slow responses and actions by government departments, while others found themselves trapped in the bureaucratic runaround. Many times, when dealing with county staff, the answer a business owner received to their question depended on with whom they spoke. Because if they asked the exact same question to another person in the same department, the answer was completely different. This sort of uncertainty and confusion not only causes massive amounts of aggravation, but costs time and money as well.

There are also some ridiculous fees in existence that certainly don’t help businesses expand and grow. One example, which I couldn’t believe when I was first told about it, is the System Furniture Permit. It’s a fancy name for a tax on cubicles. Oh, yes. We are taxing cubicles. As a "permit," you would think it was a flat fee. If you did, you’d be wrong. The amount that must be paid for this "permit" is calculated by the square footage. The more cubicles an office has installed, the more they have to pay. I can’t be the only person that finds this completely unbelievable. How many more of these types of fees and "permits" exist that do nothing more than take away usable capital? A complete review of all fees, permits, applications, etc. should be conducted to make sure ridiculous obstacles to commercial development no longer exist in Frederick County.

Government should not be the largest hindrance to economic success. After all, government does not create jobs. The private sector is the true job creator in our economy. If we want more jobs to be available in Frederick County, it’s for the County Council and Executive to find ways to encourage investment in our community. Winchester Hall can help to lay the foundation and create the environment that attracts business to Frederick County.

In doing so, the county needs to also provide its Office of Economic Development (OED) with whatever tools and support it requires to be competitive with other jurisdictions in the region. Frederick County has lost out more than enough times to Loudoun and Montgomery Counties. That needs to end. Frederick needs to be at the top of everyone’s list when they are looking at places to locate.

Recently, the Chamber of Commerce and OED have launched innovative initiatives to gain attention for everything Frederick has to offer. More and more, Frederick County is being noticed as the place to be. So we must continue this trend. We need to build on this momentum. We need to elect members to the County Council who understand the importance of finding and promoting innovative new economic development ideas. As a business owner and the former leader of an organization whose goal was primarily economic development, I am uniquely suited to fill such a position on the County Council.

I ask that you take some time and visit to learn more about me and what direction I believe Frederick County should be taking in the future. Frederick is already a wonderful place to live and work, we need to work together so that everyone knows that.

To learn more about Justin visit his Campaign Website at

Read other Campaign articles by Justin Kiska