Business Notes: Business Leaders Cite Purple Line’s Economic Development Potential in Letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary

Plus: Staples to close store in Silver Spring


Maryland Transit Administration

Developers urge U.S. transportation secretary to support Purple Line

Business leaders are lobbying for the Purple Line. Forty-five developers, real estate attorneys and CEOs signed a letter sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao last week that explains their support for the 16-mile light-rail line that would connect Bethesda with New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.

“We represent a coalition of real estate developers and business organizations who have collectively invested billions of dollars in projects and ventures located in suburban Maryland, and we write to you now in support of the Purple Line light rail project,” says the letter signed by Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson, Bozzuto Group CEO Thomas Bozzuto, Carr Properties CEO Oliver Carr and the presidents of several area chambers of commerce, among others.

The letter points to new economic development projects the business leaders are pursuing near the Purple Line that they say will lead to $500 million in private sector investment and create about 25,000 jobs. The business leaders are asking Chao to finalize the project’s $900 million in federal funding.

The letter comes amid questionable support for the project from President Donald Trump’s administration and an ongoing lawsuit that has delayed the start of the line’s construction, which was scheduled to begin late last year, after a federal judge vacated federal approval for the project.

Staples to close Georgia Avenue store in Silver Spring

The office supplies retailer announced last month it would close 70 stores in North America after experiencing declining sales and one of those stores will be the Georgia Avenue location north of downtown Silver Spring, according to the local blog Source of the Spring. The blog noted the company sent a letter to local customers of the store saying it would close May 6. Staples closed 48 stores last year.

County Council approves microlending program

The legislation approved unanimously Tuesday will create a program that provides loans ranging from $500 to $15,000 to small entrepreneurs that can’t obtain access to other capital. Only county residents with businesses based in Montgomery County are eligible for the loans. Council members said Tuesday the bill could help very small businesses expand—such as one run by a seamstress who needs a new sewing machine to handle more customers.

“Microlending is powerful because it expands access to capital for entrepreneurs who may otherwise be overlooked,” council member Tom Hucker said in a statement. “This new county microloan program will open up exciting new business opportunities for many business owners.”

The council also passed legislation Tuesday that will impose a civil penalty of $1,000 on owners of foreclosed properties that fail to register a property with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the Maryland Foreclosure Task Force within 30 days of the property’s foreclosure sale. Hucker, who sponsored the bill, said Tuesday the penalty will help prevent foreclosed properties from becoming neglected, which can lower home values in a neighborhood. The state estimated there were about 1,400 foreclosures in the county in fiscal 2015 and about 34 percent of property owners failed to register or registered after the deadline.

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