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Committee recommends new organization to foster Ellicott City revitalization

A committee is recommending Howard County create a community development organization to promote commerce and economics in historic Ellicott City, which has been ravaged by two deadly floods since 2016.

Although the county has put forth a multimillion-dollar plan to minimize the impact of future flooding, Ellicott City has been slow to fully rebuild as “businesses continue to struggle with consumer fear and decreased sales,” according to a report presented by the Ellicott City Community Development Corporation Exploration Committee earlier this month.

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The committee, formed by an order from County Executive Calvin Ball, said in its report that the creation of a community development organization would foster a “sustainable, vibrant and diverse community in the Ellicott City area through reinvestment, revitalization and use of partnerships.”

The group initially was charged with determining whether the county should pursue a community development corporation to revitalize the town’s economy.

Instead of recommending a corporation, which the report says has implications that “infer a greater priority and more direct involvement in the development of affordable housing,” the committee suggests the county create an organization that can leverage “local assets for the benefit of a community’s economic development and offer innovative ways to support the socioeconomic development” of the area.

The organization would exist as a nonprofit with the ability to sell, lease, and purchase public and private property. It also would be allowed to solicit bids and select developers to implement projects.

The committee also recommended the organization bring “creative financing solutions” and have some oversight of the town’s infrastructure and building preservation.

The committee recommended the organization sustain its funding through leasing and selling properties it controls. The assets would include Main Street buildings acquired by the county, the courthouse, public parking lots, the old post office and other properties the organization “pursues in the watershed area in Howard or Baltimore count[ies].”

Funding also would come through grants, gifts and any other means as pursued by the organization, the report said. Before becoming self-sustaining, the organization would need financial support from the county and state, according to the report.

The report recommended the potential organization would have a new role alongside four already established entities — the Maryland Historical Society, the Ellicott City Partnership, the Economic Development Authority and county government.

Each entity would have a different role in the revitalization of the historic district. For example, county government would provide financial assistance to the area, the Ellicott City Partnership would advertise the town’s events and the community development organization would “leverage technical assistance and resource dollars” from the state, federal government and donors to attract new resources.

The committee recommended the organization have an 11-member board of directors. Nine members, including the chair, would be appointed by the county executive. Two members would be recommended for appointment by the County Council member who represents the region. One would be a community representative.

A county spokesman said the Ball administration is reviewing the recommendations.

The committee that produced the report was made up of 17 members appointed by Ball. Appointees include Tom Coale, a local lobbyist and land-use attorney at the Ellicott City law firm Talkin and Oh; Matt Fleming, president of the Ellicott City Partnership; Nicholas Redding, president of Preservation Maryland, a Baltimore-based nonprofit; and Angie Tersiguel, who co-owns Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant on Main Street.

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