Reemberto Rodríguez, July 1st 2010
July 2010 represents a major milestone for our community – and for the Silver Spring Regional Center. On July 8th, 2010 we’ll be having our grand opening for the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza. We’ll continue celebrating this new community asset throughout the summer with our concert series every Thursday night through August 12th.
July is also the start of our fiscal year; a fiscal year that promises to be one of the most challenging in our County’s recent memory. The budget cuts and constraints are real. They will impact the way we operate. Our challenge remains to connect to community and build on our assets even in these trying times… Indeed, sometimes it is “trying times” that spark innovation and discoveries. I am confident we will face our challenge ahead practical and pragmatic ways, building on relationships that have been instrumental in helping us get here; and, embarking on new paths that we have yet to uncover.
This July also represents the one year mark of my tenure as Regional Center Director. It has been quite a ride, to say the least. I am honored to have been able to meet so many people from all walks of life in our community. I am honored to have learned so much – and, the more I learn, the more I realize I remains to be learned. The work has been exhilarating and challenging. And, we are just getting started!
Thus, a brief reflection of where we are at seems in order… I hope you enJoy reading it… (And, if you have additions, corrections – whatever! – please leave us a “comment”.)
Since its inception, the Silver Spring Regional Center was instrumental in providing the indispensible local county government link to the successful redevelopment of Downtown Silver Spring.
Through much of the last decade, the Regional Center focused with a laser-sharp tenacity on ensuring that Downtown Silver Spring became the area’s economic engine and one of Montgomery County’s premier commercial core. This required extensive engagement in the redevelopment process. The Regional Center worked in true partnership with the major development interests to create an exemplary, award winning, urban space that has become the pride of the County.
Today’s vibrant Downtown Silver Spring owes much of its success to the many vibrant community members that have relentlessly remained engaged in civic discourse; exemplary private sector business partners; the visionary leadership of Montgomery County elected officials; and, the technical expertise of the staff at the Regional Center during the challenging redevelopment process.
In the last year, the Silver Spring Regional Center has gone through extensive transitions. The Director responsible for much of the redevelopment success moved on in early 2009. An interim Director was in place for a few months. The current Director was appointed in late July 2009.
During the on-going transition, the County has experienced a budget shortfall of historic proportion. Even in this difficult environment the Silver Spring Regional Center accomplished much in FY2010. The “Top Ten” accomplishments include:
1. Reconnected and reestablished strong, sustainable relations with the broader Silver Spring community well beyond the downtown area, reaffirming the County’s commitment to all of Silver Spring.
(i.e.: highlighting the successful Weed & Seed Program; working with the Long Branch Sector Plan and the Langley Park area; facilitating youth engagement; and reaching out to other segments of our community not customarily engaged in the traditional civic process.)
2. Worked in partnership with businesses in downtown Silver Spring, from large corporations to small entrepreneurs in a variety of initiatives, programs, and events.
(i.e.: working in close partnership with Peterson Co. as they bring ‘feet to the streets’ in downtown with their 150+ events per year; convening regularly with the Chamber of Commerce; involved with the smaller entrepreneurs in Fenton Village and the buy-local effort as they come together to ensure local businesses thrive; and, facilitating countless development presentations to ensure appropriate input; and, staying in close contact with all major stakeholders.)
3. Emphasized the ‘community connection’ opportunities of local, County-wide and National efforts to ‘connect community assets to community opportunities’ by establishing sustainable, results oriented relationships that will serve the County – and the Regional Center – well into the future.
(The Census; Community Services Day; MLK Service Day; National Nights Out; Neighbors Campaign; and others.)
4. Continued front-line, local engagement, and provided policy guidance for the major public investment in the area.
(i.e.: the Civic Building and Veterans Plaza; the new library; the Fillmore/Live Nation; and the new Transit Station.)
5. Began managing the ‘move-in’ phase for the Civic Building and Veterans Plaza.
(i.e.: Involvement in the details of the physical completion of the facility; defining the protocol for use with CUPF; and, working with the various community members, organizations, businesses and institutions to ensure the facility meets expectations and is publicly embraced as a true value added asset for all community members.)
6. Working with the leadership offered by the new Urban District Manager, improved the internal systems operations of the Silver Spring Urban District to more efficiently focus on its core mission to keep downtown ‘clean and safe’.
(i.e.: established new personnel protoco; delivery of services; and effective scheduling.)
7. Continued successfully delivering marquee, traditional events and marketing to ensure we sustain economic viability while supporting new innovative ventures.
(i.e.: Thanksgiving Parade; Jazz Festival; Summer Concerts; ‘community celebrations’; Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival; Fenton Street Market; and others.)
8. Provided countless resolution to specific constituency problems.
(i.e.: Responding to requests for ‘green tape’ support; providing access to the appropriate government offices to resolve simple issues; collaborating with other County, State and Federal agencies to ‘make things happen’ in public – and private - projects; etc.)
9. Provided support and policy guidance to the various advisory groups, bringing them together to work on common issues.
(i.e.: The Advisory Board and its three standing committees, Neighborhood, Commercial Economic Development, Transportation and Pedestrian Safety; the Urban District Committee; Arts and Entertainment Committee; and Transportation Management District Committee.)
10. Began the restructuring of the Regional Center to respond to four major factors:
(a) the changing economic climate and its impact on municipal finances and governance, including substantial budget cuts;
(b) the operational requirements of our new town center (Civic Building and Veterans Plaza) and maximizing the community building potential of this facility;
(c) the reality that development in downtown Silver Spring – as successful as it has been - “is not done yet”, and continues to require intensive partnership building efforts; and,
(d) the need to continue – and expand - the major relationship initiatives started over the last year to connect to the neighborhoods, commercial centers, and communities throughout the greater Silver Spring Regional Center area.
Meeting the challenges ahead will require continuing strengthening the relationship with our advisory groups; development, business and entrepreneur community; traditional civic networks as well as the many non-traditional civic activities; and, our robust community serving non-profits, youth, faith, and arts communities. Over the course of the next year, we should expect more aggressive community engagement “calls to action” promoting volunteer opportunities to “serve local”. We will also continue working relentlessly – and indeed enhance our efforts - to ensure quality commercial activity continues to serve as the base of our economic vitality, and that Silver Spring shines as ‘the place to do business’.
We look forward to working with all of you as we seek to more effectively and efficiently meet our County’s mission.
Please leave your comments below - and become a 'follower' of this blog so you get future postings!