Annapolis business community prepares for significant changes

| September 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

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The City of Annapolis has once again decided to create an economic development department. Under former Mayor Ellen Moyer, economic development was handled by two separate departments within the city. Former Mayor Josh Cohen disbanded the departments and opted to create a quasi-independent corporation (Annapolis Economic Development Corp) that relied on the city for nearly 100% of their funding and received free (initially) and then subsidized rent. One of the first changes that current Mayor Michael Pantelides did was to de-fund the AEDC which simply went away. Their computers and records also seemed to disappear as well without question. Now, the Mayor is going to give it another shot in a business climate that has quickly become populated with strange bedfellows.

Annapolis New Hire

Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides announced that Hollis G. Minor will be the city’s Economic Development Manager, a position that will oversee the Economic Development Division within the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Ms. Minor’s new post is a critical part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed earlier today by both Mayor Pantelides and County Executive Steve Schuh, outlining a partnership unlike any other in local government history.  The MOU utilizes input from both city and county transition teams and focuses on creating a more effective and efficient way to coordinate economic development efforts. This MOU recognizes the city’s creation of an Economic Development Division within its Department of Planning and Zoning, and that the city’s Economic Development Division will hire an economic development manager and retain a small/minority business enterprise coordinator to work cooperatively with the Anne Arundel Economic Development Cooperation.

“Ms. Minor’s reputation as a seasoned business solutions provider is a perfect match as we begin to implement new strategies surrounding economic development efforts in Annapolis,” Mayor Pantelides said. “She is well respected in the county and city, and we are ready to start utilizing her talents as soon as possible.”

Prior to accepting the position, Ms. Minor worked as a business consultant for the Maryland Small Business Development Center, providing the Anne Arundel County small business community (businesses with up to $14 million in revenues and 500 employees) with consulting and training services to increase their economic impact.

Ms. Minor has also served as President of the Minor Group, Inc., located in Annapolis, since 1997. In this position she has been overseeing the fulfillment of government, nonprofit and commercial client contracts focused on improving business efficiencies, performance, programmatic impact and financial sustainability in order for these organizations to better serve their communities.

Some of her notable accomplishments consist of implementing a diverse range of successful economic development and communications initiatives for hundreds of public, nonprofits and for-profit organizations, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, Philadelphia Controller’s Office, BWI Airport, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Meridian International Center, American Boat & Yacht Council, and Verizon Wireless and Environmental Resources Management, Inc.

She was also part of a contractor team that has provided public relations services to the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, during which time Maryland increased its tourism products and services advertising value by as much as 53 percent in one year, and increased domestic visitors by 33.3 percent, which was substantially greater than the 17.2 percent increase the United States realized.

The Economic Development Manager selection process involved a national search, with the City’s Human Resources Department collecting a total of 20 applications from 4 states.

Ms. Hollis will begin her new position on Tuesday, September 8 at an annual salary of $99,500.00.

(Source: Annapolis City)

Minor is the wife of Don Lamb-Minor who was a key player in the Moyer administration and a principle in The Minor Group with his wife.

Annapolis Business Association and Annapolis Partnership

The Annapolis Business Association has decided to merge with a group that was formerly called MainStreets Annapolis Partnership (MAP).  During the Cohen administration, there was a lot of friction between MAP and the AEDC with each feeling the other was stepping on their toes.  MAP was funded by the City. Now, MAP has changed their mission to encompass all of Annapolis and lose the focus on Main Street. They have re-branded themselves as the Annapolis Partnership.  The Annapolis Partnership is aiming to create a board with representatives from all business districts, resident associations, as well as the City itself. The City will now fund the Annapolis Partnership (salaries and presumably office space). This effectively gives the City a seat at the table in the business community since they will serve on the Board and provide the funding.  However, there are no guarantees that a new administration will continue the funding or if any current administration will retain it from year to year. Meanwhile, the business community still does not have a place at the City’s table. There is no business representation on the Council–even in a non-voting capacity. In essence, the ABA under the proposed merger will become a quasi-City department.

Partnering With Anne Arundel County

The third aspect of the changes in the business community concerns a seemingly one-sided partnership with Anne Arundel County which was signed earlier this morning.  In the agreement (below) it appears that the City must provide:

  • A taskforce
  • A plan
  • A new division of planning and zoning
  • Fund the new division
  • Staff the new division with 2 (min) people
  • Cooperate with the County
  • Provide resources
  • Commit the City PIO to work with the County

The County appears to be required to:

  • Cooperate with the city
  • Provide a desk for a City employee for 2 days per week
  • Support the City’s efforts
  • Consider allowing City representation on the Workforce Development board

On first glance, the partnership seems like the City is playing in a football game–they are taking the risk and assuming the cost, while the County is in the stands applauding their efforts.

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A final observation, former City Administrator (under Mayor Cohen) and former WORA President, Doug Smith, is the Treasurer of the new Annapolis Partnership. At one point, he worked for Hollis Minor who is now leading the Annapolis economic development division.

To recap: the Annapolis Business Association, the last true representative of city business, has agreed to be merged with MAP and folded into city government, where they are now beholden to the city for funding, which means that the business community has lost whatever true clout they may have had with the city. At the same time, after failing twice before,  the city is developing another unfunded business organization that will overlap with the so-far unfunded Annapolis Partnership, and will assume all the financial and political risk, while the county’s contribution seems to largely consist of moral support. It will be interesting to see how these two programs which, again, have been tried several times before by the city without success, will work.

It is a very confusing time for business owners in Annapolis.

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Category: Businesses, Editorial, LIFE IN THE AREA, OPINION

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with