City and SBDC To Hold Workshop for Struggling Small Businesses

The City of College Park and the Maryland Small Business Development Center (MDSBDC) are offering a free seminar, “Getting Your Retail Store and Restaurant in the Best Shape to Survive a Down Economy” on December 8th. The seminar will be presented by Casey Willson, a well known retail and restaurant consultant with over 25 years of experience. Mr. Willson will provide innovative strategies to help struggling retail and restaurant businesses not only weather, but succeed in current economic conditions. Whether you’re a current or prospective College Park business owner or a commercial storefront property manager you’ll want to attend this event.

The workshop will take place on Tuesday, December 8th, from 8 to 10am in the Small Business Development Center’s College Park offices (7100 Baltimore Avenue, 4th Floor.) Attendance will be limited. Registration for the workshop is first- come, first served and must to be received by 9 am on Monday, December 7th. For more information or to register for the workshop, please visit the Training section of www.capitalsbdc.umd.edu or call 301-403-0501 ext.11.

Located in downtown College Park, MD, the Capital Region Small Business Development Center, provides assistance to entrepreneurs in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. In 2009, the College Park Center received several notable awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration. They were ranked the #1 performing SBDC in the Mid Atlantic Region and the #2 performing SBDC in the Nation. Marisela Villamil, the Center’s Business Consultant, won the “2009 Minority Small Business Champion of the Year Award” for her exceptional performance and commitment to small businesses.

D-Back to Univ, “Get your Act Together”

The Diamondback published a editorial yesterday urging the University to show leadership in the now flailing East Campus project.

Although East Campus may take much longer than expected to complete, the administration must put forth a realistic and straightforward plan now to ensure the project remains feasible.

If East Campus is going to come to fruition any time soon, university officials need to get out ahead of these problems. The vagueness of their statements and what appears to be a lack of direction will not convince many lawmakers.

I could not agree more. What started out as a very promising project has been on a disturbing downward spiral. Mrs. Wylie and other campus officials should take a hard look at this project and decide if East Campus is a priority for the campus and City or not. What is needed is a clear plan for moving forward. Right now what we have is a 38 acre question mark.

Speaking of Eminent Domain… City Looks to Seal the Deal on #1 Liquors

U View and #1 Liquor
Apparently, the city’s patience with #1 Liquors is wearing thin. After nearly a decade of begging, prodding, and cajoling tactics, councilmembers are starting to contemplate eminent domain proceedings on College Park’s most infamous homestead holdout. According to the Diamondback the city would like to acquire the parcel in order to create “a park”:

The council voted last night to try to buy the property or to try to get it condemned if its owner refuses to sell. Some View residents said they would miss the store’s convenient location and were skeptical of plans to create such a tiny park.

The lot is a questionable location for a new park seeing as the City-University partnership is creating the 5-acre North Gate Park just south of the liquor store where Paint Branch Stream Northgate District (looking towards campus)passes under Route 1. But the plan may be the city’s only real means to get rid of the squat one-story building in the emerging North Gate Development District. The store would be surrounded on three sides by major development in the area that includes the University View’s nearly complete complex and Mark Vogel’s planned 700-bed Varsity Student Housing project. The area is but one small glimmer of hope in College Park’s otherwise grim real estate environment. Perhaps the store owner would have been wise to take an offer for a ground floor retail spot in the University View’s new building. They would have had a captive audience of literally thousands of students in complexes either planned, approved, or already built.

Incidentally I just did a lengthy post at TheCityFix.com about eminent domain and a recent New York State court case that has catapulted the controversial issue back into the public spotlight. As I explain in the post, the tool can benefit communities, but it has several pitfalls. Councilwoman-elect Christine Nagle put it well in her quote in the Diamondback article where she expressed her disagreement with the city’s plan to remove businesses it “just doesn’t like”:

“We’re just starting Route 1 redevelopment,” Nagle said. “How many little parks are we going to have? Every time someone doesn’t make a deal?”

Continue reading Speaking of Eminent Domain… City Looks to Seal the Deal on #1 Liquors

Funding Problems for East Campus

Is Shuttle moving or not?
Is Shuttle UM moving or not?

The Diamondback is reporting that the Maryland General Assembly is wavering on committing relocation money for East Campus in the wake of FP-Argo pulling out of the project.  (See East Campus Gets Its Own Stimulus Package for background information)

State Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s) said the university will face a tough sell lobbying for additional East Campus funding since FP-Argo pulled out, raising questions about the future of a project officials still tout as essential to transforming College Park’s dingy image.

While university officials have said they will buy FP-Argo’s East Campus site plan and build it piece-by-piece with multiple developers, Rosapepe said members of the General Assembly will need to see concrete information before they commit money to the project with the state facing a $2 billion deficit.

“Given the immense fiscal pressures on the state right now, I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure to cut the bulk of state spending where there isn’t a pressing need,” he said.

Continue reading Funding Problems for East Campus