May is Perfect Time to Recognize Economic Accomplishments

Friday, May 07, 2021

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Economic development is a strong driver in Washington County’s economic health, and the Community Development Agency (CDA) is working to promote and maintain momentum. Washington County is a vibrant community, offering ample opportunities for economic and personal growth. The CDA is the economic development organization committed to working with businesses to promote growth in Washington County. The CDA is celebrating 2021 National Economic Development Week, May 9 to 15. Take a look at the following business growth activities and accomplishments below.

Predevelopment Finance Fund

New economic initiatives stimulate a community’s vitality and growth. One tool the CDA uses to drive growth is the Predevelopment Finance Fund. The grant program created by the CDA assists cities with planning and technical assistance efforts to promote new economic development initiatives within the cities/county. It was created after CDA staff met with city and township representatives in the county to discuss economic development. What CDA staff heard is that there are parcels of land throughout the county that are ripe for development or redevelopment, but need just one piece of the puzzle to fall into place to move plans along.

From that, the CDA received support from the Washington County Board of Commissioners to fund predevelopment grants to cities and townships.  These funds are intended to: 1) increase the availability of shovel ready properties in the county; 2) provide opportunities for our existing businesses to stay and grow here in Washington County; 3) spur new business development and job opportunities in the County; 4) provide opportunities for business diversity; 5) increased commercial and industrial market values within Washington County, and 6) assist with removing blighted properties.

COVID-19 Business Relief

Economic hardship has hit all communities since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDA has administered over $10 million in business assistance grants for COVID-9 business relief. One avenue was through the CARES Act, via which the CDA has funded nearly $5.9 million to 477 small businesses in Washington County. The other avenue the CDA was active with is the State-funded 2021 Business Grant Program, awarding 430 grants totalling $5,059,000. The main funded items included rent, supplier/vendors, utilities and reopening expenses.

Open to Business 

The Open to Business Program has helped over 200 businesses throughout Washington County since its inception. In 2019 and 2020, the industries most represented were Service, Food and Retail. Open to Business covers all stages of business development, including start-up, pre-start planning, existing business expansion opportunities, existing challenged businesses and client inquiry and has assisted male- and female-owned businesses equally. 

National Economic Development Week

The sixth annual National Economic Development Week (EDW) is May 9 to 15 and represents an opportune time to reflect on the importance of local economic development efforts to building a vibrant and sustainable community. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) created EDW in 2016 to help increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and improve the quality of life in communities everywhere. 

EDW is a chance to recognize economic developers, the local leaders and organizations who work tirelessly to recruit investors, develop businesses, create jobs, enhance the tax base and ultimately improve the quality of life of their communities. There are many resources available for those looking to participate in this year's events. The IEDC’s #EDW2021 Toolkit offers a number of ideas, while using #EconDevWeek can help amplify the value EDO’s have in a community. This excellent video, created by Economic Development Winnipeg, is a fun way to help with that message.

The Washington County CDA works tirelessly to support entrepreneurs and small businesses, focus on business retention and expansion, lead workforce development and assist with marketing and promotion to ensure the local community can achieve the highest quality of life possible. Reach out to the CDA to see how we can help today!

Category: News