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HCEDA Receives IEDC Silver Award for Ellicott City Flood Response

September 20, 2017

The Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) was awarded a Silver Award at the 2017 International Economic Development Councils (IEDC) Annual Awards for their role in the Ellicott City Flash Flood Response and Recovery.

The award was part of the Business Retention & Expansion Category for a single event with a community population of 200,000 – 500,000. The award honors economic development initiatives that focus on retaining and growing existing businesses within communities and regions. Applicants were expected to demonstrate extensive cross-community collaboration, and the ability to adapt and respond quickly to unforeseen events. The award recognizes single events in which a community successfully mobilized to retain and/or expand an existing business.

“This award is an achievement for not just the HCEDA, but for everyone involved in the recovery of Ellicott City,” said Lawrence Twele, CEO of the HCEDA. “What we did in Ellicott City could not have been done without the tremendous support we received throughout the county government and all our partner organizations in the community. At every turn, they were there supporting our work, and that made all the difference for the businesses, property owners, and the recovery of Ellicott City.”

On Saturday, July 30, 2016, Historic Ellicott City experienced a on in a thousand-year rainstorm which dropped 6” of water in a two-hour period. The rain gathered in the upstream watershed and funneled through this historic mill town bringing a 6-foot wall of water with it, leaving a wake of destruction.

The HCEDA worked with building and business owners as well as the Howard County Government to assist them in gaining access to facilities, navigating the permits and licensing process, and locating external real estate for temporary or permanent relocation. Many companies also required financial assistance to cover damages and rebuilding efforts, so the HCEDA employed its Catalyst Loan Fund program to help a handful of affected businesses get back on their feet and provided business counseling to others to help them navigate other financial options.

To maintain long term involvement in the recovery the HCEDA leased and rehabbed a building in the downtown area, turning it into a business resource center and gathering place. Dubbed Millworks in honor of the towns milling history, they placed one full time business development person in the center to provide long term continued assistance.

A year later 98 of the 104 flooded businesses have reopened their doors, a 94% reopening rate.

“The Ellicott City success story reflects the resilience of the town and team effort of the HCEDA staff,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “The determination from everyone who contributed in the recovery is inspiring and I am glad to see the HCEDA team being acknowledged for their hard work.”

The HCEDA has also received recognition for their work in Ellicott City from the Maryland Economic Development Association, The Small Business Administration, and two employees received recognition from Governor Larry Hogan for Acts of Excellence during the flood response.