Comptroller Lierman Checks In on Wheaton Economy

Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman stopped in at a Mexican Salvadorean restaurant, a jewelry store and an auto repair shop Friday during a tour through Wheaton to learn about the state of business there.

“I think small businesses are really the heart of our economy and hold most of the jobs in our state,” she said.

After meeting with her staff in the Wheaton branch office, Lierman stopped in at Los Cobanos Restaurant on Grandview Avenue. Owner Mercedes Rodriguez has owned the restaurant for 25 years. She came from El Salvador, where she never attended school.

She credits her hard work and assistance from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) with helping her restaurant flourish, especially during the pandemic and when Montgomery County built the new headquarters of its recreation department across the street. Construction during that time hurt her business, she said.

When Lierman, who grew up in Montgomery County and now lives in Baltimore City, asked what the best thing she served, Rodriguez smiled and replied, “Everything.”

Next on the tour was the nearby Triangle Jewelers and Repairs, which owner Mario Perla, who also was born in El Salvadore, has operated for 16 years. When asked about his business, Perla replied, “You know, we have ups and downs,” adding, “The LEDC keeps us going.”

Her third and final stop was at Kings Auto Care at Reedie Drive, which owner Robert King has operated for four years. Business there is “great. It picked up after COVID,” he said. The small repair shop can fit six cars, where King and one other employee operate.

At each stop, Lierman described herself as the tax collector for the state and explained how the comptroller’s office could help.

After meeting with the business owners, Lierman spent about an hour with members of the county council, where they all promised to keep in close contact.

Her office needs to modernize, she told the councilmembers. The tax processing system “is older than I am,” she said.

She called her Wheaton office the busiest of 11 offices in the state.

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