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City Dock in Annapolis. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz.)

Annapolis tries new strategy for economic development

Annapolis is set to introduce a new economic development manager on Friday more than a year after the Annapolis Economic Development Corp. voted to dissolve itself.

The new manager will be announced during a 9 a.m. news conference at the Market Space in front of the Market House. Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides will also tout a memorandum of understanding between the jurisdictions aimed at promoting economic development.

“There was an extensive search and there were 20 resumes from four different states [reviewed]” Rhonda Wardlaw, a spokeswoman for the city, said. She declined to say who the manager is until the news conference.

In June 2014, the corporation’s board voted to dissolve itself following the City Council’s decision to shift the organization’s functions to the City Manager’s office under the oversight of the Small and Minority Business Enterprise Coordinator. That move followed the city slashing the quasi-governmental organization’s budget from $450,000 to $250,000.

Under the new memorandum of understanding, the city has laid out plans for how it wants to pursue economic development opportunities.  Annapolis will establish an Economic Development Advisory Task Force that will help devise an economic development plan. That plan will be aimed at the “promotion, stabilization and protection of private sector enterprises and create new economic development opportunities in the city.”

The agreement also requires the city to create an Economic Development Division in the Department of Planning and Zoning. The city will commit funding, staff and technical resources to the division, in addition to hiring an economic development manager who will work at least two days a week in the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. offices.

Wardlaw said the new arrangement doesn’t require new spending because the money that would’ve gone to the development corporation was set aside in the fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016 budgets in anticipation of the new economic development arrangement eventually being created.

“The logistics and resources to be real successful, and to achieve our retention goals, needed assistance. That’s where more resources were needed. That’s where we really needed entrepreneurial support, technical assistance and regulatory guidance,” Wardlaw said.

As part of the new agreement the county executive will consider appointing representatives from city-based businesses to the boards of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp.

The county also agrees to ensure the county’s economic development plan, which is administered by the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., will also promote development in the city. In addition, the county agrees to help pursue public and private funds to meet shared economic development priorities between the jurisdictions.

“It’s very straightforward in terms of what we’re going to do. A lot of it is common sense, but historically it’s stuff that wasn’t being done for various reasons — personal, political [or] power oriented,” said Owen McEvoy, a spokesman for the county executive.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.