Friday Five | May 7, 2021

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. Biden Montgomery County to spend $500,000 on push for global pandemic center

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council gave a $500,000 boost to create a Global Pandemic Center in suburban Maryland, a project that could help drive the county’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Spearheaded by the Connected DMV, the center would involve scientists and policymakers to launch strategic projects to advance pandemic avoidance and preparedness. Officials say the center would be a boon for Montgomery’s economic growth, which has stagnated  in recent years and lagged behind  both the District and Northern Virginia.

To read more, click here.

2. Governor Hogan offers $100 to state employees who get COVID vaccine

On Monday, Hogan announced a new incentive program offering $100 payments to state government employees that get vaccinated. To receive the payments, employees must show proof of vaccination to their human resources office and sign an agreement saying they will get any required booster shots over the next 18 months. The program will cover those who already have been vaccinated, along with part-time state workers and contractual state employees.

To read more, click here.

3. Maryland Chamber Foundation releases Q1 Economic Report

The Maryland Chamber Foundation recently released its Q1 Economic Report* showing Maryland’s economy is steadily improving. In the first quarter of 2021, Maryland’s year-over-year growth in private sector average hourly earnings was 6.7%, in contrast to 3.6% growth at the national level and significantly above the 3.4% growth the state experienced a year earlier in March 2020. The state’s unemployment rate remains high at 6.0% but is slowly receding, indicating we are headed in the right direction.

Download Q1 Economic Report

*This report is prepared for the Maryland Chamber Foundation by Mangum Economics.

4. Businesses seek to gauge how much pandemic has changed consumers

COVID-19 restrictions forced consumers to alter their spending habits, turning to online shopping, contactless pay options and curbside pickup. Cailey Locklair, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, understands consumer behavior has changed but there are questions about whether these purchasing behaviors are permanent. Locklair says there are some items – like groceries including meats, seafood and fresh produce – consumers want to pick out themselves but in other areas, consumers rely heavily on online shopping. She says businesses need to reconsider the way they interact with consumers and think about what the best way is to deliver value through face-to-face personal contact while considering what other services can be shifted more easily and conveniently to virtual means.

To read more, click here.

5. Maryland DC Deputy Mayor gives a ‘return to work’ timeline, that could impact the region

On Tuesday, D.C.’s Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development announced a “three-phased” timeline the mayor’s office has set for when local city District employees will start returning to the office. While the timeline is intended for D.C local government employees only, they have asked the federal government to adopt a similar timeline or provide mile-markers for when federal workers should start returning to the office. Whitney Harmel, the Maryland Chamber’s vice president of membership and development, weighed in on Maryland businesses’ return to work plans. “I would not say that there is a hard and fast rule as to when people reopen. But we are hearing, beginning of June, maybe the beginning of July…to start really re-entering people back into the office,” said Harmel. Watch the full story here.

Upcoming Event: The conclusion of our E&I web series: Promoting Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace on May 18th promises to be an engaging and insightful discussion. Thought leaders from Kaiser Permanente and CommonHealth Action and Dreaming Out Loud discuss how your business can embrace EID while enabling your employees to thrive.

Register Here



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