Huge Crowd For HCCC’s State of the County Address With Kittleman

“I reject the politics of hate and exclusion and will continue to denounce any efforts to divide our communities.”
That is just one of the themes emphasized throughout Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman’s fourth State of the County speech at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s (HCCC) annual luncheon at Turf Valley Resort.

The luncheon started with HCCC President Leonardo McClarty welcoming the crowd of nearly 500 members and guests, then introducing the color guard from Atholton High School with Atholton student Grace Tyson, who sang the Star-Spangled Banner.

Then came a moment the HCCC has been working toward for weeks. McClarty explained that the chamber is nearing the end of a massive rebranding process that has been going on for more than a year. The new website is still a few months away, but the HCCC has a new video to help show members and the business community what it’s all about in the meantime.

After the video rolled, everyone was treated to lunch that included a recipe straight from The Roving Radish, a Howard County program dedicated to promoting healthy farm-to-table eating habits, and sourcing food from local and regional farms. Then HCCC Board of Directors Chair Jeff Agnor, of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, took the stage to introduce Kittleman.

Although there certainly were light moments during his address, Kittleman also focused on some of the struggles the community is facing, and what he and his colleagues are doing to help. Kittleman described his vision for narrowing the achievement gap in county schools, battling the opioid epidemic, including the launch of a centralized opioid website, www.HoCoOpioidHelp.com; and Achieve 24/7, an initiative that includes a summer food project, a school readiness program a school readiness program and an enrichment program focusing on math proficiency in Oakland Mills.

Kittleman mentioned that collaboration between county government and the public school system has never been stronger. He also thanked Superintendent Michael Martirano for his leadership.

One section of the address that was of particular interest to the business community was when Kittleman described his vision for the 920-acre Columbia Gateway Innovation District. He said it will be “the next great economic center in Maryland.” He also said he envisions a walkable, bikeable community there where 25,000 people work and thousands call home.

Kittleman closed by presenting four outgoing Howard County Council Members, Calvin Ball, Jen Terrasa, Mary Kay Sigaty and Greg Fox, with the “keys” to the county.

Going to Iceland

The HCCC is shaking things up for its 2018 Chamber Travel Program. For the first time, this fall we’re headed to Iceland. Join us on our tour of Iceland, a land of geysers, glaciers, volcanoes and rich history. Iceland is an otherworldly place where forces of nature have created a landscape that allows you to swim in geothermal heated pools, trek across a mossy lava field and drive over an icy glacier — in one day.

The HCCC is holding a special information session about the trip on Tuesday, March 27, at p.m., at Grotto Pizza in Columbia. The event is free, but register at www.howardchamber.com (as to provide Grotto Pizza with a  head count). For more information, email koconnor@howardchamber.com.