Karen Barbour: Why we support a vibrant downtown Columbia

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As the founders of Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors (AHCC), we know that over 6% of Howard County residents identify as Hispanic, and that the Hispanic population is growing every year. The AHCC is dedicated in promoting the growth, prosperity and participation of Hispanic Commercial Contractors in commercial and government procurement contracts through education, training and guidance, especially here in the Mid-Atlantic region.  

We are a central part of the 21st Century economy and intend to play an integral role in Maryland’s growth in the years to come.  That growth will require a strong commitment to creating the communities that will attract businesses and citizens in the changing economy. As such, we believe the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) package proposed under Howard County Bill CB56-2016 is crucial to creating the Downtown Columbia envisioned in the Downtown Columbia Plan and urge the Howard County Council to pass this legislation during the November 7, 2016 legislative session. Furthermore, because we believe in the principles of affordable housing and expanded housing opportunities for all residents, we also support the Joint Recommendations on affordable housing. 

The TIF presents to AHCC a creative solution to fuel the economic engine of Downtown Columbia.  We want a vibrant town center, well-paying jobs, and growth opportunities in the heart of central Maryland. AHCC sees the new construction enabled by the TIF as a driver for its member base that will allow our Hispanic commercial contractors and their families to become first-time stakeholders in building a “new” community.  Therefore, the AHCC supports the TIF proposal and Joint Recommendations on affordable housing and urges the Council to support this package as well. 

AHCC sees Howard County as the launch pad for its success, just as Howard Hughes sees this county as a launch pad for Maryland’s new economic engine.  The new Downtown envisioned by this legislative package will create the vibrancy needed to attract our millennials, small business innovators, and notable large businesses that, like Howard Hughes Development, will provide true concern and outreach to heal the socio-economic disparity present in the Hispanic community.  We want a future where Hispanic contractors are building and promoting the community they live in.  This package does just that.

Karen Barbour is Founder and President of the Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors.

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