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Executive Kittleman announces economic and community service initiatives in State of the County

Executive Kittleman announces economic and community service initiatives in State of the County

February 18, 2016

Media Contacts:
Deidre McCabe, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Andy Barth, Press Secretary, 410-313-2132 (o), 410-303-2039 (c)

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today announced the relocation and expansion of Medstar Health’s headquarters in Downtown Columbia during his second State of the County address, along with numerous other initiatives related to community services, open government, economic development and revitalizing infrastructure.

“Medstar Health has not only agreed to remain in Howard County, but will expand its operation and become the first tenant in Howard Hughes’ Crescent Project, occupying 97,000 square feet,” Kittleman said.

His address, delivered to more than 450 people at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon at Turf Valley, touched on accomplishments from his first year in office and new initiatives for the coming year. 

He announced the creation of a Non-Profit Center in collaboration with the Department of Social Services and non-profits, saying he would include funding in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget for the center. “This Center will allow us to consolidate services, increase collaboration among agencies, improve the efficiency of space and enhance the visibility of our service providers.”

Kittleman said the state of Howard County is strong, with top-notch schools, libraries and community college and solid economic footing. “Our unemployment rate is the lowest in the state at 3.8 percent. Our median income is among the highest. Our commercial vacancy rates are low and our commercial tax base grew by $180 million last year.”

Kittleman said his administration will focus efforts in four key areas:

  • Community Services
  • Open and Efficient Government
  • Revitalization and Infrastructure
  • Education and Economic Development

“The past year was a year of rethinking, rebuilding, reorganizing and restructuring,” he said. “These four areas reflect our commitment to making real and discernible progress to directly impact and improve people’s lives in Howard County.”

Other initiatives announced include:

  • Creating a Citizens Planning Institute in the Department of Planning and Zoning to better engage residents in the planning process.
  • Developing a pilot program within the Howard County Police Department to evaluate body cameras for officers, forming a work group to examine the technology, cost, usefulness, transparency, accountability and privacy.
  • Completion of a new county website to improve the ability to find information and usability on phones, tablets or computers.
  • Planning a public-private partnership to move forward with building a new Circuit Courthouse.
  • Creation of a new 3-D Innovation Hub at Howard Community College, in partnership with the Howard County Economic Development Authority
  • Launching TRACKHoward, a performance measurement program allowing the County to use data to improve the delivery of county services.

In reinforcing his dedication to education, Kittleman noted he had visited 55 of 76 public schools, participated in Read Across America, Simulated Congressional Hearings, all 12 High School Graduations and other activities. He praised the county’s abundant educational resources.

“As lucky as we are, we still have families who struggle every day,” he said. “There are steps we can take to improve outcomes for all students.” He added that successful programs to improve school readiness should be expanded and committed to increasing the capacity of the “Parents as Teachers” home visiting program, run by the Office of Children’s Services.

Kittleman ended his address by stressing the need to fight back against a “resurgence of anger and hostility” against Muslims, African-Americans and other groups. He highlighted the county’s efforts, working with the Public School System, to transfer ownership of the Harriet Tubman School and convert it into an educational and cultural center.

“It saddens and angers me that so many great leaders fought and sacrificed to stop injustice and discrimination and, today, here in Howard County, we are still dealing with racism,” he said. “As residents of this diverse County, as community leaders, as parents, as role models, we need to work harder to promote acceptance and civility. “

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

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