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Councilmember Leventhal Hosts Small Business Breakfast
In January, I hosted a small and minority business breakfast to hear from the small business community about how Montgomery County can do a better job of providing opportunities to small and local businesses. More than 70 businesses were represented and attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns regarding contracting, outreach and the Local Small Business Reserve Program. Local small businesses have long been recognized as a major component of our county’s economic health and vitality. 96% of businesses in Montgomery County have 49 or less employees.
The county has made serious strides in improving the business environment for our small businesses. We recently created a small business navigator position within the Department of Economic Development to serve as a primary point of contact for the small business community, help them comply with County policies and regulations and to advise the council and executive of legislation that would eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome regulations. And in 2012, Montgomery County awarded more contracts to local small businesses than in any previous year ($83.7 million). There is more that we can do, however.
I learned a great deal from small business owners at the breakfast and in the months to follow, I hope to translate their feedback into future events which will further expand opportunities for local small businesses. We are in the beginning stages of planning an event where small businesses can meet with large and middle size contractors for subcontracting opportunities. I also hope to organize a forum for county procurement officials to meet with small businesses and be introduced to the products and services they offer. These events will be posted on my website as they are scheduled.
Councilmember Leventhal Participates in Annual Homeless Count
In January I participated in the annual count of the homeless population in Montgomery County. The federally-mandated count gathers information to be part of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and delivered to Congress. The report focuses on the extent and nature of homelessness in America. The count must be done on a single night during the last 10 days of January.
Because the count must be completed in a single night, volunteers are normally under a time crunch to complete the count and are unable to engage with homeless indviduals for more than a minute or two. In the future though, I hope the county will do more than merely acknowleding the homeless during the survey and will work to assess the needs of the homeless and connect them to relevant services. The count is an important tool in measuring how effective our homeless prevention efforts have been, but it's also an opportunity to intercede in the lives of those who are stuggling with addiction, mental health issues, and other causes of homelessness.
As Chair of the County Council's Health and Human Services Committee, reducing homelessness continues to be one of my top priorities. The County's Housing First program that I co-founded has provided permanent, stable housing to 1,854 county residents since 2009.
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Take a look here for photos of Councilmember George Leventhal at work in the community.