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This Morning in MoCo

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As we heard at our big MoCo Forecast event this morning in Bethesda, growing jobs there will require wooing those you already have. (If you have leftover Valentine's chocolate, put it to work.)

Before 475 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz, county exec Ike Leggett reported that while adding jobs is at or near the top of his to do-list, maintaining the base already in place in MoCo is just as important: "You can't grow the economy in the future if you don't keep what you already have." He singled out growing the strong sectors of cybersecurity and biohealth. But just as key will be improving the county's transportation network, Ike points out, through initiatives like the Purple Line and Corridor City Transitway.

County economic development chief Steve Silverman says unemployment in MoCo is at its lowest point in five years, and job growth is outpacing both the District and Fairfax County. Adding future jobs in cybersecurity, life sciences, the green economy, and IT represent the "sweet spots," Steve says, and the county hopes to get there though initiatives like investor tax credits for those sectors.

BioHealth Innovation CEO Rich Bendis (far left, as well as on the big screen as an ace ballplayer) says variety should be a big part of job growth: "A balanced portfolio of new, existing, and large anchors." Going international should also be a focus; Rich feels the county should lock down foreign tech companies who might otherwise look to Boston, Silicon Valley, Philly, or the NC Research Triangle. Rich was joined on our first panel by Ike, Technology Council of Maryland CEO Phil Schiff, and Foulger-Pratt VP Brigg Bunker.

MRP Realty's Ryan Wade (right, with Duball's Marc Dubick) says when his company bought Bethesda's Air Rights complex last year and polled tenants on new amenities, some were curious as to why MRP wanted to add a fitness center. "People hadn't seen things like fitness centers" in Bethesda's older stock of office buildings, Ryan says, so he hopes putting $30M into Air Rights as well as the hip features of Bethesda's other two new office projects can liven things up. (In Bethesda, everyone works out by running the wrong way on escalators.) Stay tuned for more MoCo coverage tomorrow.