bizarre and rambling press conference, Riemer had denied Montgomery had grown moribund - despite reporters citing official federal statistics proving it was at rock bottom in the region by every economic development benchmark. But at Bisnow's Future of Bethesda and Beyond event yesterday, Riemer changed his tune and acknowledged MoCo is getting whipped by Northern Virginia. But despite being surrounded by local business experts on panels at the event, Riemer brushed aside their advice and doubled down on stupid, falsely claiming the problem is a lack of skilled workers.
Riemer also lied about just how bad the crisis is. He falsely told the Bisnow audience that Northern Virginia had only dominated job growth in the region for the last two years. In fact, it has dominated throughout this century. The numbers just get worse and worse for Montgomery. Northern Virginia accounted for 91% of all job growth in the region over the last year, according to a Stephen S. Fuller Institute report cited at the Bisnow event.
For the second time in as many weeks, Foulger Pratt CEO Cameron Pratt hit the nail on the head, calling for a long-delayed new Potomac River crossing to Dulles to be built. "Look at the number of jobs being created just a few miles away on the other side of the river," Pratt told the Bisnow audience. "We've got this Great Wall of China, which is the Potomac River, that nobody can cross because there's one access point down at the American Legion Bridge. If we could connect to all of the economic activity in Northern Virginia and the Dulles Toll Road by building a bridge, all of a sudden Gaithersburg and Germantown become connected instantly."
Riemer also admitted that, despite loud declarations since 2014 that the Council would tackle the missing school capacity infrastructure crisis, "some of our most attractive real estate markets are in moratorium right now." Humiliating! He promised the Council would get around to ending the moratorium sometime late next year, a La-Z-Boy agenda pace that business leaders in attendance found less than reassuring.
Duball, LLC President Marc Dubick said the moratorium "scares the living heck out of our institutional partners. Clarity with schools should be a top priority." But despite claims that it was, the Council never actually provided that clarity, much less the classroom space needed.
Think about it. Riemer has taken in tens of thousands of dollars from his developer sugar daddies over the last decade. Yet, even with nine whole years to solve the problem, he still couldn't even deliver the basic infrastructure needed to prevent a moratorium. Along with cratering the County's economy, destroying the food truck industry in the County, and tanking the nighttime economy, it shows incompetence of the highest order.
Surrounded by expert advice from business leaders, who correctly identified the problems as missing highway infrastructure and a hostile business climate with high taxes and over-regulation, Riemer was again lost without backup from cue cards and staff. According to Riemer, highly-educated Montgomery County lacks skilled workers, and needs to train its workforce. He also delivered a rambling and incoherent speech promising that the Purple Line would attract biotech jobs to the already-densely-developed Silver Spring area, when in fact, such companies need larger campuses that are only viable along I-270 and in White Oak, neither of which is on the Purple Line.
Riemer isn't the sharpest tool in the drawer, that's for sure. Only at the end of his political career in Montgomery County has he finally summoned the courage or the shame to admit the jurisdiction he's run for nine years is in a full blown economic crisis. But as they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.