David Petr, the first president and CEO, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC), spoke to about 50 residents on April 4 about his role in shaping economic development strategies in Montgomery County. Petr explained how his background in business and marketing made him a great candidate for this new position and organization, which was the brain child of the county executive and strongly supported by the county council.
Before coming to Montgomery County, Petr was the president and CEO of the Central Florida Council and the executive director of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council. Before that he worked in business in Texas. Petr mentioned that he has a staff of 10, which he hopes to grow over the next year or so to 20, and is supported by a budget funded by the county of approximately $4.2 million.
Petr told the audience that he was on a “listening campaign” around the county to hear from businesses and residents about their hopes for the county’s economic future. Specifically he mentioned three initiatives that are being rolled out:
- The first is “Outreach Montgomery,” which is directed at retention and expansion programs for local businesses involving face-to-face meetings on what existing businesses need to grow in the county. Petr said, “Taking care of our own is a top priority.”
- The second is “Montgomery 365,” a new marketing campaign, which would include a unique message every day for a full year about the organization or the county itself. Petr indicated that they would be blitzing traditional print media as well as social media.
- The final initiative is to support the growth of cyber security as an important niche in the county’s business community. Petr is supporting a cyber security work group, which is exploring cyber facilities, research centers, etc. The goal of the work group is to attract more cyber companies and educational opportunities to Montgomery County.
Petr received a number of questions from Village residents, including how he was going to work with other county and state agencies to streamline regulatory processes so as to make Montgomery County more competitive with other jurisdictions in the region that appear to have more friendly business relations. Petr responded to a question about the importance of improved transportation and transit, noting that he would be a big advocate in this regard.
He was also queried about relationships with other jurisdictions that are competing for business with major industries that would bring jobs to the region. There were several comments about the importance of small businesses and how numerous they are in Montgomery Village.
Petr’s general message was that existing businesses are the best marketing tool for the MCEDC because their positive experiences help sell Montgomery County as not only a great place to do business, but also to live, work and play.