Riemer Says Economic Report Fails ‘The Smell Test’

Council President Hans Riemer said an economic report released last week which questioned the economic future of Montgomery County didn’t pass “the smell test.”

“The unfortunate thing about it is it seems to lend itself to whoever was willing to make the most incendiary comment about the report is seemingly the best at economic development, which is just a joke,” Riemer said Monday at his regular meeting with reporters.

The author of the report, the Sage Policy Group of Baltimore, “produces reports that confirm what the people who paid them want to see,” Riemer said.

“You can find numerous examples of that, and I think in this case, I think the people who paid them wanted to paint a very negative picture of Montgomery County so they released a report that did that,” Riemer said.

The report was part of a county executive forum Friday hosted by the business group Empower Montgomery. Sage Policy Chairman and CEO Anirban Basu presented a number of data points about the county, including its high debt, compared with other jurisdictions, and the net number of new county businesses started in the last 10 years.

Basu said the number is six. Riemer called the number “is out of left field.” It doesn’t correspond to the availability of jobs and rising wages.

“Those are the measures that matter,” he said.

Riemer cited other conflicting data. Montgomery County’s gross regional product grew by 24.2 percent from 2010 to 2017. In Fairfax County, the figure was 23.8 percent, he said.

Private sector job growth increased 4.4 percent in Montgomery; the number in Fairfax was 3.7 percent, Riemer said.

The stats in the Sage Policy report conflicts with what people can see.

“And then of course there’s always the smell test which this one doesn’t pass,” he said.

“Since sequestration, the trends have been very positive,” Riemer said. “We are on an upward path. It is completely wrong to characterize our economy as somehow a death spiral. It’s really kind of laughable. That is what this developer-funded think tank wanted to do. So that’s what they said but that doesn’t make it right.”

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug


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