We have strengths. Let’s build on them
May 10, 2021
Montgomery County can find success as a place where companies grow and thrive, providing jobs for our families and communities — but we have to be forward thinking and play the long game.
It is not about tax cuts for the wealthy and that tired anti-government agenda — it is about making smart decisions and savvy investments in our future.
That’s why I am so excited to share the news about an important partnership that the County is now backing to land a Federal Pandemic Prevention Center.
Some of the world’s top scientists and biotech leaders have come together through a regional economic development organization to propose a federal strategy to advance medical breakthroughs for dangerous pathogens — before they become pandemics.
This exciting idea has even won the philanthropic backing of the Gates Foundation.
For example: with funding, scientists could develop monoclonal antibody treatments for various coronaviruses that are known but not yet circulating among humans — and stockpile those recipes in case one of the coronovarises becomes a pandemic.
Montgomery County is the natural place to house this new center. With the NIH, FDA, and a powerful life sciences industry, we are already an epicenter of global pandemic response.
That’s why in January, I proposed that the County provide seed funding for the intrepid nonprofit team at ConnectedDMV working to make this happen. Last week, the Council approved the plan. I am glad to say that the County Executive supports the Pandemic Center initiative, and we are partnering to move it forward.
NIH is already the engine driving our economic success. But until recently, Montgomery County didn’t have a game plan to turn that powerful engine into new companies and jobs.
When I took over the Economic Development Committee chairmanship, I immediately put the focus on leveraging our federal research labs, particularly in life sciences. That was a big emphasis of my 5 Point Plan.
One of my first initiatives was persuading my colleagues and the executive to restore the County’s important partnership with BioHealth Innovation, an economic development group. And guess what? BHI returns to this story as a lead co-sponsor of the Pandemic Center initiative!
The federal Pandemic Center proposal exemplifies the vision of leveraging our Federal power centers.
There is definitely risk that the resources ($500,000) we put behind the Pandemic Center plan won’t pan out. But, as they say, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Bottom line: This multi-billion dollar Federal investment would be great for America and the world, and hosting it here in Montgomery County would further secure our status as a leading biotech region.
It falls in line with other ideas I am working including:
- Completing the Purple Line to connect to UMD
- Building urban centers that attract young workers and the companies that employ them
- Expanding talent pipeline partnerships in higher education and MCPS — to give our kids equitable access to higher paying jobs while fueling our workforce expansion
- Legalizing 5G infrastructure so we are not left in a digital divide
- Aggressively tackling our housing affordability challenges and ensuring growth in our housing supply
- Providing a walkable, bikeable landscape for a modern healthy lifestyle
- Building regional transportation connections with MARC and Metro expansions as well as expanding capacity, including transit, on the American Legion Bridge and 270, consistent with long-established Council positions
While the idea of a Federal Pandemic Center is a new one and it could take time to bring to reality, there’s no doubt that this type of initiative is our sweet spot on economic development.
Combined with programs to help small businesses recover from COVID-19 — which starts with letting them re-open! — and strengthening programs that aid women and people of color in their entrepreneurship — we have a more complete program to power our future for an equitable recovery.
We can do this!