Charles County Commissioner President Reuben Collins, in his speech at his Oath of Office, said, “I believe we can balance our County’s beauty and natural resources with improved infrastructure while growing our economy and attracting local jobs, and I’m ready to put in the work along with my fellow commissioners and staff to bring this vision to life.”
As we begin 2019, the Economic Development Department is excited and prepared to support Commissioner President Collins’s vision. With that in mind, here are some of the EDD activities we look forward to this new year.
- Waldorf Station. This project will create a whole new image for Waldorf as you travel from Prince George’s into Charles County on 301. Waldorf Station is planned as an exciting, mixed-use development with retail, residential, and more. It’s the kind of venture that will take years to complete, so it’s likely to make future new year lists, as well. For 2019, we look forward to joining developer Greenburg-Gibbons as they break ground on this transformational project.
- Zoning enhancements for commercial land around the Maryland Airport. It’s called for in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, but this initiative became a priority in the second half of 2018 when the County Administrator directed the Department of Planning and Growth Management – at our request – to start work to rezoning about 600 acres around the privately-owned airport to allow commercial activity. We look forward to supporting our PGM co-workers on this project to create greater economic opportunity in this part of western Charles County.
- An Enhanced Retail Strategy for Charles County. In 2019, we will implement an analysis of Charles County’s retail market and potential to attract new retail operations – one of our target industries. Our residents want more retail options; this work will help us assist retail centers to attract operations that are a good fit with the County’s population and demographics.
- Craft breweries. Charles County’s first brewery, Patuxent Brewery in Waldorf, is working toward opening in 2019, and we look forward to celebrating when they do. Thanks to new regulations, developed by our department in partnership with the department of Planning and Growth Management, we expect more to follow, along with other craft beverage producers such as wineries and distilleries.
- The Waldorf Urban Redevelopment Corridor. Also known as the WURC, the area along Old Washington Avenue between Acton Lane and Leonardtown Road has been targeted for redevelopment with the vision of creating a vibrant, walkable neighborhood with shops, restaurants, offices, and residences. The focus for 2019 will be on infrastructure improvements – roads, utilities, and such – that will support the growth and transformation of this area and move us towards turning the vision into a reality.
- First round of BRE results. Our business development team spent a lot of time in 2018 meeting with and listening to Charles County business owners share their needs, plans, challenges, and opportunities. The goal of this initiative – the Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Program – is to provide specific assistance where needed and to identify trends that will help us create on-going programs to address business needs in general. Outreach will continue in the first part of the year, then we’ll analyze the information and start working toward next steps.
- Focus on International Trade. Our plans for the year include creating opportunities beyond national borders. The Economic Development Department will hold an international trade business workshop to help our companies learn the ins-and-outs of doing business in other countries and to tap into resources for developing international relationships. We are also exploring international relationships between Charles County and other jurisdictions to create on-going opportunities for trade and foreign direct investment.
- The Velocity Center. Located in the Town of Indian Head, the Velocity Center will be a space where the College of Southern Maryland (CSM), the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head (NSWCIHEODTD), and the community can work together to explore and develop innovation. It’s expected to revive the Town and help with talent attraction and retention for the base. CSM expects the center to open in the Summer of 2019.