Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Project Spotlight - Downtown Hotel & Conference Center

Frederick needs a downtown hotel and conference center. So say the largest employers in the community along with the city, county, chamber, tourism council, and downtown partnership - forming a joint team to make it happen. Frederick has some terrific hotels, but is underserved in terms of a downtown up-scale flagship facility which can host business and family functions locally. Fredericktonians are often forced to look to other communities to host larger conferences and events.

The hotel team – a public-private partnership – has funded a feasibility study which strengthens the case for such a facility. It confirmed that Frederick has sufficient demand for a 200 room, full-service hotel with guest amenities including a large ball-room and break-out meeting space which can handle events of 600 or more people. The study also confirmed that Downtown Frederick was the right location, providing a combination of unique amenities not found together in one place elsewhere in the community.

Downtown Frederick, the largest contiguous historic district in Maryland, is centrally located in the county and is easily accessible from the highways. It is home to more than 600 businesses, 5,000 employees, and several thousand residents. For a number of years it has been recovering from devastating losses due to flood, business flight, and neglect. The result is an walkable, award-winning downtown which has over 200 restaurants and retail businesses, is served by public transportation, has stunning architecture, and is the hub of commerce, government, churches, tourism, arts, entertainment, and museums.

Despite its successes, the Downtown economy is fragile and adding a hotel conference center will help cement its recovery. Other communities like Lancaster, PA, Greenville, SC, Charlottesville, VA, and Asheville, NC have effectively used hotel conference facilities to anchor their downtowns. It is a time-proven strategy to use a demand generator like a hotel to provide a critical need for the community while strengthen revitalization efforts as well.

Building a downtown hotel and conference center is challenging business. Due to the high cost and inherent risk such facilities are rarely undertaken by hotel developers alone. Most such facilities are accomplished through a public-private partnership. Limited public sector participation can reduce the risk enough to encourage private sector investment. It is our hope that together with the business and developer communities, Frederick can assemble the resources needed to bring this project to fruition by our 2014 goal.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement has made this a central project his administration to move forward and has appointed long-time Frederick businessman Earl Robbins, Jr. to spearhead the project. A former school board, chamber, and united way chairman, Mr. Robbins is no stranger to large complex projects and knows his way around the community and Annapolis. He has been quoted as saying that he has agreed to head this critical project because he believes it will improve quality of life and strengthen the business community. Frederick needs and deserves a place downtown to host our over-night visitors, induce new events and conferences, and support our local businesses.

Economic Development Busy with Three Upcoming Events

The City of Frederick's Department of Economic Development is hosting or co-sponsoring several upcoming FREE informative events.

May 18th - 2011 Frederick Procurement Fair
9:00am - 12:00noon
Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center
40 South Carroll Street, Frederick
Parking available at the All Saints Street Parking Deck

If you are a local small business and looking for procurement opportunities with some of Frederick's largest employers, this is the event for you. This is a FREE event, please check out the DED Calendar of Events for registration. For questions, call 301-600-6360.

May 24th - Energy Forum
7:00pm - 9:00pm
City Hall Board Room
101 N. Court Street, Frederick
Street parking available as well as the Church Street and Court Street Parking Decks

You have a choice on who provides your electricity. Come hear from several local providers who will explain their programs and how to sign up. This is a FREE event, but registration is required. For questions, call 301-600-6360.

June 14th - Kevin Mulvaney - "Business at a Crossroads: Grow or Go?"
8:00am - 10:00am (BREAKFAST INCLUDED)
Dutch's Daughter
581 Himes Avenue, Frederick

Bsed on recent findings of Professor Mulvaney's surveys, businesses are indeed at a crossroads: What will it take to grow to the next level? What are the various exit options available? THis is a FREE event, but registration is required. For questions, call 301-600-1058.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spotlight on Industry: Advanced Technology

The technology industry is broad-based and includes sectors such as aerospace, energy, information security, nanotechnology, robotics, software, telecommunications and electrical engineering. Advanced technology - or high tech businesses - hold tremendous growth potential as they take discoveries and commercialize them - turning R&D into marketable products and services.

We've already looked at biotechnology in Frederick, so here we will focus on the non-bio components of the advanced technology industry. Six percent of private sector occupations in the Frederick area include direct employment in computer and mathematical science, engineering and related technicians. Factor in the jobs in computer science, engineering and robotics at Fort Detrick and NCI-Frederick's nanotechnology labs and one can begin to see the significant employment impact of the advanced technology sector in our community.

This 6% does not take into account the manufacturing jobs associated with much of the advanced technology research and development that is a major component of this industry sector. Fairchild Controls is one example of an aerospace technology company that employs not only the technical research and development positions, but also the support positions in production, sales and management that comprises their workforce of 166 people.

Bechtel is one of the largest employers within this industry sector, with expertise in a wide array of sectors within the technology industry. With 2,200 Frederick-based employees, Bechtel is also one of the largest private-sector employers in Frederick County. Bechtel employees are engaged in civil and nuclear engineering, communications, energy and more.

Frederick Innovative Technology Center (FITCI) - a technology incubator in Frederick - fosters innovation not only in bioscience, but in advanced technologies as well. Two recent FITCI graduates are great examples of the innovative advanced technologies under development in Frederick. Widearea Systems is a convergence technology company that develops and markets secure unified communications software and hardware solutions for corporate enterprise and government agencies. WGS Systems provides products and services to the US intelligence, military and homeland security organizations, specializing in engineering and scientific support, systems engineering and development. They are a premier developer of integrated surveillance and reconnaissance systems. And another FITCI client - Kinetic Revolutions - is applying a range of technologies to the development of orthotic and prosthetic devices.

In this 21st century knowledge-based economy, the advanced technology industry sector plays an increasingly important role in our economy and Frederick is well positioned for continued growth in this sector through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Friday, April 15, 2011

City of Frederick Department of Economic Development Holds Energy Forum

You have a choice, an Electric Choice! Are you aware that as a resident or business owner in the state of Maryland that you have the power to choose the company that supplies your electricity? The City of Frederick invites you to join us on May 24, 2011 at 7 pm at City Hall to learn all about electric choice from Paula Carmody, Maryland People’s Counsel, and a panel composed of electric suppliers, moderated by Jim Pierobon of the Maryland Clean Energy Center.

Once you’ve locked in your rates, reduce your utility bill for the long-term by joining the Frederick County Green Homes Challenge. Hilari Varnadore of the County’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources will invite City households to take Challenge 1: Be a Power Saver! Power Saver households save energy and reduce utility bills; the program encourages households to take easy steps such as having a home energy audit, making an energy saving action plan, and implementing home energy projects. Free Power Saver Handbooks will be available for all residents that register in the program.  
You’re energy bill is one expense you CAN control. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear directly from suppliers about the programs and rates they can offer as well as take advantage of free programs and resources available for Frederick City households.
This is a FREE event however seating is limited. Please register or call 301-600-6360.

For additional information or if you have questions about the Electric Choice Energy Forum, please contact Richard Griffin, Director of Economic Development, at 301-600-6361 or by email at rgriffin@cityoffrederick.com

Monday, April 4, 2011

Farmers Insurance Says Frederick is A Secure Place to Live

Frederick is among the top 10 most secure places in the US, according to a recent ranking by Farmers Insurance. This study ranks the "Most Secure Places to Live in the US," and the Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick metropolitan area ranked 9th among large metropolitan areas (populations of 500,000+). The rankings took into account crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, terrorist threats, environmental hazards, life expectancy and job loss numbers.

"The City of Frederick has a number of advantages in rankings such as this. Whether it's economic security - in our diverse industry base and strong job opportunities; security for our families - through low crime rates or safety in our environment - with a high-quality water supply and abundant open space and public parks, the City of Frederick is undeniably a great place to live and do business", said City of Frederick Mayor Randy McClement.

Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine shares, "Protection of the public is perhaps the core responsibility of government as safety is a basic human need. The Frederick Police Department is exceptionally proud that our strategic, cohesive and effective policing efforts played a key role resulting in Frederick being included in this national ranking. Reduced crime and a robust and diverse business community help illustrate the strong correlation between safe neighborhoods and economic stability. These symbiotic factors in fact lead to lower crime rates and a higher quality of life. The Frederick Police Department takes great pride in this national listing - a high quality of life is a success for all who live, work and play in Frederick."

To view the full rankings, click here.

For current data on crime in the City of Frederick, visit the SpiresGIS Crime Map.