Since taking office, I have had ongoing discussions with the Baltimore County Planning Department on how to infuse investment and prosperity back into the Essex Community. Essex has experienced the devastating impact of the massive job losses that affected southeastern Baltimore County.
In the past, we’ve had no organized community development organization to receive and properly manage funds. This type of entity is the primary essential component to attracting any type of public sector investment. From the very beginning of this endeavo,r it was a roadblock to any further action or interest from State or Local government. True and lasting revitalization cannot occur without a collaborative effort ofthe community, business leaders and government.
After learning of this challenge, the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce formed the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force subcommittee. The committee is comprised of business and community stakeholders already involved in the revitalization of Essex.
This past February 12th, I joined the leaders of the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force, in hosting Governor Hogan’s administration cabinet members and their staffs for a discussion and tour of the Essex area. The primary focus of the tour was the Eastern Avenue corridor, and our discussions involved how to alleviate blight, attract investment, and begin the long climb back to prosperity.
We successfully made our case, with new economic activity taking place at both Sparrows Point and Route 43, and a robust and energized community development organization, Essex is perfectly positioned for renewal. The state and county both agreed.
We began working on the next step with Baltimore County’s Department of Planning to develop an application to the State that would designate much of Essex as a “Sustainable Community.” The community, the task force, county planners and state planners came together to make this happen. Once this designation is formally approved by the State, it opens the door for the Task Force to attract a variety of funding sources that could potentially bring millions of dollars in reinvestment to the Essex area.
I am pleased to announce that on April 16th, the County Council unanimously passed Resolution 33-18 which endorses this application to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for Essex to be designated as a Sustainable Community.
I cannot overstate what a huge opportunity this is for Essex. Improved housing, community development, transportation improvements, tax credit incentives for business and environmental improvements are just some of the benefits this will bring. There is no better time than now, with large economic development happening on both sides of Essex at TradePoint Atlantic and Route 43.
While an enormous amount of work happened to get us to this point, even more, remains ahead of us. The designation is just the beginning and I look forward to the State’s final approval. As the Task Force moves forward, everyone’s involvement and input will be required to define goals, make things happen, and be a part of Essex reaching its true potential.