County Launches Business Connect Program in Germantown
Montgomery County business owners and entrepreneurs in the UpCounty will be getting additional support through the new Business Connect program launched by County Executive Marc Elrich at the UpCounty Regional Services Center.
Business Connect is a business assistance hub where small business owners can get information, support, and training to start or grow their companies. The Germantown location was selected to make it more convenient for thousands of UpCounty businesses to connect with County services. Assistance is available by appointment. The UpCounty Regional Services Center is located at 12900 Middlebrook Road.
“Growing the economy is one of my priorities, and I have also made a commitment to ensure that services are delivered fairly throughout the County,” said Elrich. “Piloting this effort in the UpCounty Regional Services Center addresses both of those objectives. This program provides counseling, classes, and connections to local business owners in their own communities to help them succeed and grow.”
Elrich was joined by Maryland Commerce Deputy Secretary Ben Wu, and Councilmembers Craig Rice and Sidney Katz for the launch of the new program on Wednesday, May 8, during Small Business Week. Results from the UpCounty pilot will be used to design a Countywide Business Connect program available at all of the regional services centers over the next year. However, the program will be permanently housed in Germantown.
Elrich and Katz have been doing a listening tour of the County to speak with business owners and managers to discover what the County can do to improve the business Climate; The 4Business Listening Sessions will make a stop in Germantown on Monday, June 10 at the UpCounty Regional Services Center at 7:00 pm.
“This is a great resource,” said Marilyn Balcombe, President, and CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. “People come to the Chamber all the time that want to start or expand a business and need help doing that. We don’t really provide that in-depth service. This is a great resource for us. I can see us referring people to this location to find people to hold their hands through the process, and help them write a business plan, help them look at strategic growth, or help identify the best marketing tools. We just didn’t have the resources in the UpCounty. We intend to be a full partner with this program.”
“Montgomery County’s new Business Connect program is a terrific complement to the state-level efforts to transform Maryland’s business climate,” said Maryland Commerce Deputy Secretary Ben Wu. “This innovative program shows that Montgomery County is working hard to make sure the government provides great customer service and ensures that Maryland is a welcoming, supportive place to launch and grow a business.”
The Montgomery County Business Solutions Group, which includes the small business navigator and business liaison officers, is working on site at the UpCounty Regional Services Center. “We want businesses to know that assistance is available throughout the County,” said Fletcher. “We will start with offering training and navigation and look forward to hearing from the business community about what other types of services would be helpful.”
“We have got to remove the pain-points of businesses doing business with Montgomery County,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Jerome Fletcher. “The frustration, the lack of response time, and how they are interacting with the government — we need to fix that first. Customer service first and foremost. Second of all, we need to increase the way that Montgomery County shares opportunities that are available for our businesses in Germantown and everywhere else. If a business doesn’t know about it, and we don’t communicate to businesses, how can we possibly expect that business to bid and compete for it, and grow your company? The third thing is that procurement cannot be a barrier. It can’t be an impediment to business. It has to be transparent and manageable. It has to be done in a way that upper leadership cares about the residents we are trying to impact.”