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From the Desk of
County Executive Jan Gardner

(7/2014) Frederick County – Rich History, Bright Future

This week I had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia to promote Frederick County at the annual International BIO conference. Frederick County businesses were well represented including Leidos, NCI Frederick, Texcell, and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command from Ft. Detrick who were promoting Medical Technology Transfer. It was an opportunity to build relationships within the biotech community, learn about new technology, and to meet with state leaders including Gov. Hogan’s Deputy Secretary of Economic Development, Benjamin Wu, who sat down with us to talk about expanding our local business incubator with a second location in downtown Frederick.

There is amazing cutting edge technology on the way that will allow us to monitor our own vitals, our EKG, and blood test results using an App on our phones! We even had a live downlink from the International Space Station and a real time conversation about the impact of space on aging and how this research translates into addressing aging issue on earth.

Frederick County is very proud of our strong biotech and life science community. Frederick County is home to 80 biotech companies making us the county with the second largest concentration of life science businesses in the state. We are excited by the planned expansion at AstaZeneca which will add 300 new jobs with a likelihood of more. We are proud that Thermo Fischer (former Life Technologies) is shipping products made in the United States around the world - internationally every day. It is wonderful that these businesses are not only providing good jobs but improving public health and well-being.

Some people think the biotech industry is not creating jobs for them. Some think these are jobs just for scientists or for people with college degrees, master degrees, and PhD’s. While there are jobs for scientists and people with high levels of education, there are also jobs in manufacturing and distribution that require high school degrees or associate degrees or certificates that can be earned at our community college. There are jobs for people with a wide variety of skills and education. The biotech and life science industry provides opportunity for wages and benefits that are sufficient to support families. Best of all, these businesses are about improving the life of patients and keeping people healthy. These are jobs that people can be proud to perform and make an important difference to the quality of life of people.

What’s Next?

Solid Waste: Stay tuned for upcoming outreach meetings and brainstorming sessions to answer the question of "What’s Next?" for solid waste management. It seems hard to believe, but there is a tremendous amount of community interest and even passionate debate about the details of recycling, composting, and waste disposal. People really want to talk trash! To ensure open government and public participation, the county will be hosting outreach meetings around the county to hear what you think on this issue. So, get ready and put your thinking cap on!

Ethics: Revisions to the ethics ordinance are being drafted and will be introduced to the county council for their consideration in July and August. The Ethics Taskforce did fabulous job gathering information, debating the issues, and making recommendations to strengthen our ethics laws to ensure trust in government. Recommendations include adding back penalties for serious violations, expanding financial disclosure requirements to key boards and commissions like the planning commission, prohibiting elected officials from doing business with the county, adding a code of conduct for elected officials, and expanding the size of the ethics commission from 5 members to 7 members.

Growth: It seems that no issue in Frederick County is more contentious than the debate about how the county should grow. The prior administration zoned a tremendous amount of land without doing the planning first – much like putting the cart before the horse. Making sure we have adequate roads and schools will be difficult due to the developer friendly contracts signed by the last Board of Commissioners. These contracts benefited developers and failed to protect the taxpayers. Later this summer, I will initiate an update of the county comprehensive plan with the intent to do the needed planning. Better late than never!

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