Infrastructure and Land Use Committee Briefing: Briefing by Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA)
On February 8, 2022, the MCCC Infrastructure and Land Use Committee was joined by Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA). Mr. Wiedefeld, who has led WMATA since 2015, announced he is retiring in July.
Committee Co-Chairs Gus Bauman (Beveridge & Diamond PC) and Bob Elliott (Lantian Development) wished him well in his future endeavors. Mr. Wiedefeld does not know what comes next, but he plans to continue contributing in some capacity.
In his briefing to the Committee, Mr. Wiedefeld said that a top priority over the last two years is keeping Metro’s workforce safe, including vaccination or proof of testing for all Metro employees. Metro has a 93% vaccination rate and nearly 100% compliance with Metro’s requirements. Regarding ridership, Metro has seen a gradual return, but not to pre-pandemic levels. Ridership has also been disrupted by service interruptions. Metro will continue to encourage a return to ridership and is considering new fare initiatives as an incentive.
Mr. Wiedefeld closed his remarks by discussing several challenges and opportunities facing Metro, including the acknowledgement that the pandemic has changed travel patterns and the current financial model is no longer sustainable. Metro also needs to grapple with equity issues and their relation to quality transit services, including the delivery of an affordable and seamless network of bus and rail transit services that benefits all.
Economic Development Committee Briefing by Maryland Labor & Industry Commissioner Matthew S. Helminiak
MCCC’s Economic Development Committee met on February 2, 2022 and received a briefing from the Maryland Department of Labor’s Commissioner of Labor and Industry, Matthew S. Helminiak. Commissioner Helminiak has oversight over the division that plays the vital role of providing and protecting a healthy, safe, and equitable workplace for Maryland businesses.
The presentation covered:
He also provided a review of legislation his division is following during the 2022 legislation session of the Maryland General Assembly, including a bill to increase the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Maryland, following an increase on January 1, 2022, rises to $12.50 per hour for employers with 15 or more employees and $12.20 for employers with less than 15 employees.
Finally, Commissioner Helminiak provided an overview of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which went into effect February 11, 2018 and requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours that an employee works. For smaller employers, the requirement is one hour of unpaid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours that an employee works.
On Thursday, January 20, 2022, MCCC hosted Montgomery County Office of Procurement Director Ash Shetty and Division Chief Grace Denno. They led a presentation on how to do business with Montgomery County Government.
The presentation covered:
The presentation was followed by a Q&A segment with participants who had general and specific questions regarding contracting with the Montgomery County, Maryland Government.
On Wednesday, January 19, 2022, MCCC's Board of Directors hosted Michael J. Roman, President, CertainPoint Strategies, LLC, for a special presentation on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing.
The presentation focused on the following topics related to ESG:
View the presentation here.
On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, MCCC and attorneys from Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd. shared best practices and specific actions you can take now to navigate the new vaccine mandates and marketplace realities.
This program is relevant to business owners, those in executive leadership roles, and human resources professionals.
Topics covered in this presentation include:
View the full presentation.
View the slides from the presentation.
PilieroMazza’s Sarah L. Nash, a partner in the Firm’s Labor & Employment Group, provided an overview of recent legal developments in vaccine and mask mandates and their implications for employers engaged in the federal sector. This program will be of interest to professionals who manage compliance requirements for their company.
MCCC's Infrastructure and Land Use Committee met on November 9, 2021, where they were joined by Adam Ducker, CEO of RCLCO, a leading real estate firm based in Bethesda.
Mr. Ducker talked about the dynamics that have driven real estate in Montgomery County, including an aging population as compared to that of Northern Virginia. Montgomery County should seek ways to attract younger residents and workers if it is to compete in the future.
Mr. Ducker noted that job density is highly disaggregated in Montgomery County, which may be another risk. The County’s retail real estate market, according to Mr. Ducker, has weathered COVID-19 pandemic better than many other markets around the county. Part of the reason is that the County is not over-retailed, which is a problem in other suburban counties around the nation. Mr. Ducker commented on the future of office space, as well, sharing that he thought the post-pandemic employee trends may put down demand pressure on office space, but this is likely to happen slowly as businesses reconsider their in-person office needs. He said high-quality offices and locations will do well, but buildings that were struggling with relevance pre-pandemic will continue to experience pressure.
MCCC’s Legislative Affairs Committee held a meeting on October 14, 2021, where they were joined by Maryland Delegate Kathleen Dumais. Delegate Dumais represents District 15 in Montgomery County and is the Vice-Chair of the House Economic Matters Committee.
Delegate Dumais, a member of the House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup, provided a briefing on the expected efforts by the Maryland General Assembly to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. This topic is one of the issues that will dominate the news cycle during the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session.
Economic Development Committee Briefing: MCEDC's Efforts to Create a Comprehensive Economic Strategy
MCCC’s Economic Development Committee met on October 6, 2021 to hear a presentation on the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation’s (MCEDC) efforts to create a Comprehensive Economic Strategy (CES). Providing the presentation were MCEDC’s Bill Tompkins, Executive VP and COO, Brad Stewart, SVP of Business Development, and Nadia Khan, Counsel and Special Projects Manager.
MCEDC is tasked with putting together a new five-year strategic economic development plan for Montgomery County, which is due by December 31, 2021. The CES is focused on addressing several issues, including housing, workforce development, and business development while including a plan for a diversified and thriving economy, racial and social equity, innovation, and environmental sustainability.
MCEDC also engaged MCCC members in a listening session to get input and direction on key issues and economic development priorities.
View the powerpoint below:
Joint Economic Development Committee/Legislative Affairs Briefing: What's next for 5G in Montgomery County?
On September 15, 2021, MCCC held a joint Economic Development Committee/Legislative Affairs Committee meeting focused on what happens next for 5G in Montgomery County. Joining the joint committee meeting were Councilmember Hans Riemer, Ashlie Greenspan, Public Affairs Manager, Crown Castle and LaTara Harris, Regional Director, External & Legislative Affairs, AT&T.
After several years of deliberation, the Montgomery County Council passed a zoning text amendment (ZTA) that creates a regulatory pathway to the adoption and installation of 5G technologies. Councilmember Riemer, the sponsor of ZTA 19-07, said that it was important to move Montgomery County forward by allowing 5G technologies. Panelists noted that these new technologies not only provide great connectivity and faster Internet speeds, but they help close the digital divide. They also pave the way for smart cities technology and improved telehealth capabilities.
There are still challenges that remain with the implementation of 5G, including the lack of local authority to allow microtrenching, which is a quicker and less disruptive construction method for installing fiber to support 5G technologies.
The Chamber is a longtime supporter of 5G technologies and will continue to advocate in support of this issue.