MEDA Members’ Corner: Richard Griffin

Richard Griffin, CEcd, AICP – Director of Economic Development – The City of Frederick Maryland USA

Explain your background in economic development
I have worked in economic development and urban planning at the city, county, state, and federal level for 30 years starting in Seneca, SC in 1991; Seattle, WA, Greenville, SC, Loudoun County, VA, and Frederick, MD. I have served as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Frederick for 19 years and previously was the Executive Director of the Downtown Frederick Partnership for 2 years.

What are your key priorities within your current position?
As Director of Economic Development I am responsible for four departments at the City with a total budget of $11 million and 40 FTE’s. These responsibilities include:

– Economic Development (Thrive) – 3,600 Businesses/59,000 jobs
– Frederick Municipal Airport (Fly) – 90,000 aircraft operations annually
– Downtown Frederick Parking System (Park) – 1.3 million cars parked annually
– Weinberg Center for the Arts (Play) – 80,000 attendees annually

Economic Development in the City of Frederick is a multi-faceted process that focuses on building a community that residents, businesses, visitors can live, work/invest, and play successfully and that attracts private capital and investment, jobs, and housing.

Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.

I love revitalization, infill development, and adaptive reuse. I am really proud of the work that my team and I have done to help revitalize historic downtown Frederick through projects like Carroll Creek Park and to bring new investment (restaurants, retail, tech) into a previously underperforming area. We are working on similar efforts along Frederick’s Golden Mile to bring new venues, jobs, and tax base to Frederick’s most diverse community. Lastly, I love learning about and helping businesses successfully choose Frederick for operations and investment. Frederick’s entrepreneurial spirit is simply outstanding and I am proud of our work to help start FITCI – our tech incubator/accelerator.

What professional pressures keep you up at night?
Obviously right now the impact of COVID19 on the business community is a critical issue that worries business people and those of us that support them. Helping spur community resilience and support post-COVID19 recovery is difficult and requires significant thought and time.

What attributes are unique to your community?
Frederick is a hip and historic city which has won many awards including top ten awards for livability, craft beer and food, safety, tech, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse. We are Maryland’s second largest incorporated City and are the home of Fort Detrick, National Cancer Institute, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, AstraZeneca Biopharma Manufacturing, and much more.

What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
Frederick has invested heavily in Community Placemaking, Infrastructure (Roads/Utilities/Broadband), and diversified land assets for greenfields and grayfields development along with infill and adaptive reuse.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?
Would love for MEDA to focus support on helping Baltimore become the envy of the world in terms of diverse, inclusive, and healthy neighborhoods, economic development and job creation, and visitor amenities. A top performing Baltimore helps the rest of Maryland including my own community attract, retain, and expand businesses. Go Maryland! Go Baltimore!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?
I think MEDA is one of the finest organizations of its type in the country and am proud to be a member and officer. Supporting MEDA is support for all of us working to transform lives.

Please include any personal background information that you’d like to share (Alma mater, Military Service, hobbies, etc)
I am a former cold war Army Cavalry soldier and Armor Officer serving with the 11th Armored Cav in Fulda, Germany in a border guard role. I am a graduate of Western Carolina University and Clemson University and originally hail from Asheville, NC. I have three boys who have been born and raised in Frederick, MD. My wife who is a Spanish teacher and I live in our first and only home near Downtown Frederick. I am an avid outdoor sports lover – and am currently a NICA Mnt Bike Race Team Coach for my youngest son’s race team. I’ve been known to enjoy a cold craft beverage and good music. Can hardly wait for COVID19 to be in the past and start in person events again.

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