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County Executive Ball Selected by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Participate in the Economic Mobility Leadership Network

November 7, 2019

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

Ball joins 19 other leaders from around the nation to explore the role counties can play to positively affect economic mobility

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball is participating in a new program, the “Economic Mobility Leadership Network,” that is bringing together 20 diverse and bipartisan leaders from across the country to explore the role counties can play to positively affect economic mobility. The network is run by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. During the past four months and three gatherings, County Executive Ball attended meetings, shared ideas, and focused on best-practices.

“Our nation and our county are blessed with economic expansion and tremendous wealth, yet the American Dream is still out of reach for many families. I believe that local government has an important role to play in addressing that disparity and opening economic opportunity to all,” said Ball. “I am grateful and excited to be included in this select team of national leaders. I have enjoyed working with the National Association of Counties, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and my peers to bring economic solutions back to Howard County residents.”

This network of county leaders gathered in Multnomah County, Oregon in July, Hennepin County, Minnesota in September, and will visit Garrett County, Maryland later this month.

The leaders have visited sites that demonstrate economic mobility in action and met local leaders (within the county and outside), as well as those impacted by these programs and services. The goal of this program is for these leaders to return to their respective counties motivated to build awareness of the factors that influence economic mobility, dismantle stigmas to change the narrative around poverty, and develop local solutions that drive economic mobility upward.

The Program

In the Economic Mobility Leadership Network, the 20 county officials traveled to counties that have made concerted efforts and demonstrated measurable success in addressing economic mobility in their counties. Topics addressed include:

  • Workforce development and opportunities
  • Generational poverty
  • Affordable housing
  • Access to financial services
  • Educational opportunities and attainment
  • Transportation access
  • Health care services and access
  • Technology and information access
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Geographic mobility and data collection, use, and sharing

Howard County Successes and Challenges

Howard County has evolved during the last 50 years to become one of the wealthiest, most racially and socio-economically diverse, and safest counties in the nation. Inspired by James Rouse’s vision for Columbia, modern Howard County has evolved to become known around the country as a place of inclusion, tolerance, and civility for neighbors from all backgrounds. However, despite the county’s good fortune and impressive accolades, there are still many Howard County families who struggle and, as the county’s cost-of-living has increased, maintaining affordable housing and economic mobility has been a challenge.

Since taking office last December, the Ball Administration has addressed these challenges by utilizing innovation, mobilizing partnerships, and providing more resources for our most vulnerable families.

In order to take an informed approach to these issues, Ball created the Howard County Data Analytics and Statistics Hub (HoCoDASH) to provide stakeholders with the vital information and recommendations needed to assist in solving problems and delivering results for residents, businesses, and communities. This also includes Community Indicators, with metrics like “self-sufficiency,” to evaluate the economic realities of living in Howard County.

The work of improving economic mobility will continue with the “Getting Ahead” program, “Complete Streets,” early education investments, “Age-Friendly Community resources,” “Practice Howard”, “Live Where You Work,” and small business support, as well as more to come around housing opportunity, social services, and beyond.

Participating Counties

  • Howard County, Maryland
  • Palm Beach County, Florida
  • Franklin County, Ohio
  • Tarrant County, Texas
  • Nassau County, New York
  • Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Coconino County, Arizona
  • Hennepin County, Minnesota
  • Holmes County, Mississippi
  • Fulton County, Georgia
  • Bernalillo County, New Mexico
  • Garrett County, Maryland
  • Mobile County, Alabama
  • Washington County, Virginia
  • Waukesha County, Wisconsin
  • Pinellas County, Florida
  • Mercer County, West Virginia
  • Loudon County, Virginia
  • Santa Cruz County, Arizona
  • Multnomah County, Oregon