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Kittleman delivers 4th State of the County; discusses vision for closing achievement gap, battling opioid epidemic, concept for Gateway Innovation District

Kittleman delivers 4th State of the County; discusses vision for closing achievement gap, battling opioid epidemic, concept for Gateway Innovation District

February 22, 2018

Media Contact: 
Deidre McCabe, Director of Strategic Planning and Communications, 410-313-4023
Paul Milton, Special Assistant to the County Executive, 410-313-4439

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – In his fourth annual State of the County speech, Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today described his vision for narrowing the achievement gap in county schools, battling the opioid epidemic and developing Columbia’s Gateway Innovation District.

Kittleman addressed an audience of nearly 500 at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon at Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center, saying the county’s strength comes from “shared values” and “working together brings awesome results.”

“I reject the politics of hate and exclusion and will continue to denounce any efforts to divide our communities,” Kittleman said. “Our collective values demand that everyone has a seat at the table. I’m using my position to unite people, encourage dialogue and work together to solve problems.”

Kittleman, who will give the speech again this evening at the George Howard Building, touted his Achieve 24/7 initiative that addresses barriers to student achievement and identifies gaps in services. To date, Achieve 24/7 includes a summer food project, a school readiness program and an enrichment program focusing on math proficiency in Oakland Mills.  

“Achieve 24/7 ensures that families have the support they need outside of school so that their children can excel inside the classroom,” Kittleman said, adding that his vision is to expand the initiative countywide. 

Kittleman detailed steps the county has taken to combat opioid addiction, including:

  • adding walk-in screening and referral services seven-days-a-week at the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center;
  • hiring an opioid project administrator at the Health Department;
  • launching a centralized opioid website (www.HoCoOpioidHelp.com) that includes information about prevention, treatment and recovery.

“The opioid crisis is a daunting challenge,” Kittleman told the audience. “It’s a health crisis, a public safety crisis – it affects us all every single day.” Through Feb. 21 of this year, Howard County had five fatal and 26 non-fatal drug overdoses. In 2017, there were 57 fatal and 171 non-fatal overdoses.

Describing his vision for the 920-acre Columbia Gateway Innovation District, Kittleman said it will be “the next great economic center” in Maryland. Though still years from completion, Kittleman said the Innovation District, located near Route 175 and Interstate 95, will be a mixed-used development with leading-edge companies, satellite campuses of universities, housing, shops, restaurants and other amenities.

“Just imagine, a walkable and bikeable community where 25,000 people are employed and thousands call home. A place where businesses work with educational institutions on new technologies and services,” Kittleman said. “Businesses want to be here because of our highly educated and skilled workforce and our prime location in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.”

Other key successes and initiatives highlighted by Kittleman include: 

  • greater broadband access in western Howard County, providing coverage to 90 percent of the west by the end of February;
  • innovative businesses locating in Howard County, such as STEER, creators of technology  that allows cars to self-park, and BTS Bioenergy, a European firm that will build two bio-digesters converting food scraps into energy;
  • expansion of the Community Resources Campus, relocating the Department of Community Resources and Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, Office of Human Rights and Community Action Council this summer.

Before wrapping up his speech, Kittleman presented four outgoing County Council members – Calvin Ball, Jen Terrasa, Mary Kay Sigaty and Greg Fox – with “Keys to the County” in recognition of their combined 48 years of service on the Council.

To read the full text of today’s State of the County address, go to https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Branches/County-Executive/State-of-the-County.

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