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Mayor: 53 new businesses opened in Annapolis since taking office. Not so fast!

| April 11, 2018
Rams Head

In Monday’s State of the City Address, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley stated that 53 new brick and mortar businesses had opened in the past four months.

In the past four months, Hollis and Hope, along with support from multiple City departments, have helped 53 new, brick-and-mortar businesses open their doors – This is a sign of a stronger economy, but also a lot of hard work by our city staff.

When I heard that, it just did not sound right to me. Former Mayor Pantelides always touted that 400 new businesses had opened under his watch. And that sounded equally suspicious to me as well. I asked for a list. It looked suspicious to me.

It seems the City has a very loose definition of “new business.”  According to the City’s Economic Development Manager, Hollis Minor, “new” businesses in Annapolis include existing businesses that changed ownership, existing businesses that added space, existing businesses that might not have had a use permit issued, and of course…new businesses.

Minor explained some generic examples I tossed her way.

I asked about Main & Market expanding to the vacant space next door to expand their kitchen.  She said that if a business expands they could have moved out of the City but did not, so they are counted as a new business.

I asked about a fictitious bait and tackle store that somehow never applied for a use permit and all of a sudden did. They too are counted as a new business.

I asked about McGarvey’s Saloon. Yes, the owners could have moved the business out of Annapolis and chose to stay so they are considered a new business.

Minor also explained that she does maintain a spreadsheet detailing the specifics of each use permit–new business, expanding business, new owner for a more detailed look. She also said that the City does not maintain any type of vacancy registry so they have no idea of the number of businesses that may have closed, reduced their size, or relocated unless the owner of the building solicits the City to help them find a replacement tenant. This type of report used to be available on the Annapolis Economic Development Corp’s website before it was disbanded by former Mayor Pantelides.

It seems to me that measuring the commercial health of a City should involve a bit more than “could haves.” I could have invested $100 in Berkshire Hathaway in 1964 and been worth $1, 552, 163 right now.  But I didn’t. So, what bearing does that have on my financial health?

Claiming that existing businesses are new is nothing but economic smoke and mirrors.

Minor admitted that the system is flawed and that using this system, Mayor Pantelides saw a 25% increase over Mayor Cohen in terms of “new” business. But she speculated that might not be accurate for any number of reasons including the City not entering use permits into the tracking system.

Below are the reports from the tracking software and the spreadsheet.

Download (PDF, 60KB)

Download (PDF, 111KB)

Rams Head

Category: OPINION, Post To FB

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 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 MSNBC.com.

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