Calvin ball’s record on:
Increasing Local Participation in County Procurement
Since taking office, County Executive Ball has been keenly focused on ensuring that local businesses have a fair shot at procurement opportunities with Howard County. To help increase the number of local firms receiving County contracts, the Ball Administration coordinated the very first Local Business Certification Workshop, in partnership with the Office of Procurement and Contract Administration. This free event provided local business owners with assistance in the Howard County procurement process. Since 2018, County Executive Ball has doubled the number of firms registered and certified in the Local Business Initiative program, growing from 100 to 200 firms. In 2020, nearly $16.5 million in County funds were spent on projects with certified local business enterprises. This is an increase of $5.8 million or 56% over Fiscal Year 2019.
Supporting Ellicott City Businesses
One of the first initiatives County Executive Ball announced after taking office was the EC Holiday Bucks program. The program provided ten-dollar spending vouchers redeemable at participating restaurants, shops, and service providers within the Old Ellicott City historic district during the Christmas holiday season. The holiday bucks were extremely popular, and the program continues today through the Ellicott City Partnership.
Growing an Innovation Economy
On his 100th day in office, County Executive Ball signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Howard County Economic Development Authority to make the Maryland Innovation Center (MIC) a reality. The MIC, which currently serves 27 businesses, was launched to serve as a nexus of resources and innovation for small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses. The MIC combines in-house expertise with established technology and business leadership resources that fosters small business growth for the Baltimore-Washington corridor community. The industry sectors include cybersecurity technologies, healthcare IT, and government solutions providers. Since opening, the Innovation Center has launched dozens of new businesses, resulting in hundreds of new jobs for Howard County.
Revitalizing the Long Reach Village Center
After years of blight and ongoing challenges, in 2019 County Executive Ball created “Long Reach Rising”, a swift, short-term renovation and long-term renewal strategy for the Long Reach Village Center. Since the announcement of Long Reach Rising, more than 45,000 square feet of office and retail space has been leased, including 25,000 sq ft of the space that previously housed Safeway. New additions to the village center include the African-American Museum of Art, 13 artist studios through the Howard County Arts Council, Head Start, Howard International Grocer, Roving Radish, Roll Up ‘N Dye, and Vegan Soul Bakery.
Creating Expedited Processes to Assist Businesses During COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the majority of businesses across the nation, the Ball Administration quickly found a way to support the hard-hit restaurant industry. To quickly allow restaurants to serve patrons outdoors while indoor dining was either prohibited or challenged by fear of virus transmission, the Ball Administration created an expedited Outdoor Table Service Permits program. This new process allowed restaurants to set up outdoor seating in virtually any available outdoor space, including parking lots, grassy areas, and sidewalks. The Ball Administration also worked with the Liquor Board to extend on-premises alcohol consumption. As of April 2021, more than 50 Howard County businesses have taken advantage of the outdoor seating permit process.
Focused Business Support during the Pandemic
Howard County is home to more than 10,000 businesses and 86% have fewer than 10 employees. Through continued partnership with our federal and state delegations, the Ball Administration dispersed four rounds of funding during the pandemic, totaling almost $20 million to over 2,000 small businesses, farms, restaurants, hotels, live venues, business associations and childcare providers. For these businesses, this funding was a lifeline and a critical step on the road to recovery.
Expanding Opportunity for Howard County’s Small Businesses
As part of his commitment to Howard County’s small businesses, County Executive Ball hosted the first ever Small Business Summit, drawing 161 attendees representing 145 businesses. The event provided resources and networking opportunities to small, women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses, including information on how to bid and win small business contracts with the government and private industry.
Driving Down the County’s Unemployment Rate
Under County Executive Ball’s leadership, Howard County’s unemployment rate continues to decrease as the county recovers from the global COVID-19 pandemic. The County’s unemployment rate has dropped from 7.5 percent at the peak of the pandemic in May 2020 to 4.5 percent as of March 2021. This is the lowest unemployment rate in the region and the 4th lowest in the state. Since the Ball Administration came into office, several large businesses have chosen to locate or expand in Howard County, including prepared meals company Freshly, TJ Maxx, Cavalier Logistics, and Long Home Products.