is among the top ranked places to do business in the Mid-Atlantic. Major Private Sector employers include The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, W.R. Grace, Giant Food, Verizon Wireless, The Rouse Company and Arbitron, Inc. Because of its stable and friendly business climate, Howard County has attracted both national and international companies from a wide variety of industries. As our diverse business base broadens and the number of people employed exceeds 135,000 in over 7,600 businesses, the County will continue to enjoy even greater economic stability. That stability is due to the mix of businesses, which range from high technology and telecommunications to wholesale distributors and manufacturers. The service sector is the largest industry in the county, employing one-third of the workforce.
Howard County and the state of Maryland have programs available to assist companies wishing to relocate or expand their business into Howard County, including those listed below. Local legislation has also created tax credit incentives for real and personal property, which may be phased in during a number of years for expanding firms.
A Fast Track Site Development Plan Process expedites approval of site development plans for qualified projects which will provide an economic benefit to the County. The Authority works closely with the Department of Planning and Zoning to identify projects for the fast track process.
Development and Permit Process
Once the company has selected a site, the Authority will act as a liaison between the company and the regulatory agencies of county government. Our role is to coordinate meetings which ensure the timely review and prompt approval of all applications.
Tax Exempt Financing
Industrial Revenue Bonds
Tax exempt bonds can be issued by Howard County for manufacturing companies and non-profit organizations with the normal project range from $1 million to $10 million. Approved use of the funds include land, new buildings, new machinery and equipment, some soft costs, and working capital up to 25% of the total. A significantly discounted interest rate may be floating or fixed, with the normal term of 15 to 20 years on real estate and 7 to 10 years on equipment. Interest rates vary depending on the lender, but are usually below the existing prime rate at the time of closing.
The Authority will process the application on the company's behalf and work with the County's bond counsel to introduce the appropriate legislation to the County Council.
Howard County's Property Tax Credits
A property tax credit may be granted on real property owned by expanding or relocating companies that plan to employ at least 12 additional full-time employees and make a substantial investment. A substantial investment is defined as:
the acquisition of building, land, or equipment totaling at least $2 million or
the creation of 10 positions with salaries greater than the current County annual average of $42,796.
The credit may be phased in over several years for qualified commercial and industrial firms. Property tax credits can be extended to a company that owns the building it occupies or to the owner of a new building, provided the credit is passed through to the tenants.
Howard County legislation also grants companies the maximum exemption of 75% from personal property tax for certain property used in research and development. This increases the 50% tax exemption on research and development equipment granted by the state of Maryland.
Howard County has created an Economic Development lncentive Fund which is funded by an issuer fee on tax exempt financing. Monies from this fund will be used as a matching requirement to obtain state funding.
Community Development Block Grant monies up to $100,000 are available to qualified companies expanding in or locating to Howard County. Companies providing employment for low and moderate income individuals can qualify for below market rate loans.
The Jim Rouse Entrepreneurial Fund (JREF) was established to help foster the development of new and growing businesses through education, mentoring and financing. Loans of up to $100,000 are made to small or start-up businesses for expansion or start-up costs.