The Silverman Era
By rights you should call him "Silz"—a mark of respect like we call his baseball hero Yaz. Montgomery County's Steve Silverman, who leaves office Jan. 2, has been the equivalent of a Gold Glove left fielder, home run slugger and someday Hall of Famer.
This was Silz yesterday in his office, cleaning up (and dreaming of golf, which he loves). As economic development director the last six years, he's overseen a staff of 35 and the County's strategic economic plan. His objectives: market MoCo and come up with innovative programs to help businesses large and small. His mantra: recruit and retain, recruit and retain. He credits County Executive Ike Leggett for the vision and success climbing out of the recession, and has been a loyal team member even though in 2008 they ran against each other in the primary (Leggett: 61%, Silz: 37%). Sort of a Barack/Hillary story.
Silz started in April 2009 (above), the depths of the recession when County unemployment rose as high as 6.2%; now it's 4.3%. Other accomplishments: Partnering with NIST and the state to launch the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Gaithersburg a year ago, which he hopes will plant the flag that Maryland is a cyber-hub. Establishing the Move Program, incentives for smaller companies to locate in the county ($4/SF up to 10k SF). Creation of the first cyber and bio tax credits—matching private sector investment in early-stage firms. A pilot program to bring farmers into MoCo's large agricultural reserves. Retaining large companies like Sodexo and Choice (with hefty incentives) in the face of efforts by Virginia to lure them across the river. Bringing more attention to workforce diversity by encouraging focus on STEM jobs and entry-level work in health and wellness.
Silz grew up in Portsmouth, NH, enrolled at AU in the fall of '73, then GW Law. During college he was a desk clerk at a Holiday Inn in Silver Spring, checking guests in from 3pm to 11pm. (Above is our mental picture of him. We don't believe they had computers or wristwatches in those days.) He served on the County Council for eight years, then ran Maryland's consumer protection division under Doug Gansler.
This is either Silz or Yaz with Ted Williams in 1963. We can't tell them apart. Deputy Sally Sternbach will become acting director, while Leggett considers her and others for permanent appointment. On Jan. 5, Silz opens a government relations shop, initially out of his home in Silver Spring.
Here's the other thing you need to know about Silz, and literally the note(s) we will leave him on. He's not just a Yaz fan, but a JAZZ fan: Count Basie, George Shearing, Dizzy Gillespie, and others his dad, a radio disc jockey in New England, introduced him to. Click above to hear his favorite song. OK, we're done tooting his horn. Dizzy will do it.