On June 30, 2011, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley held a press conference about his initiative, FastTrack, part of the Maryland Made Easy program. Under Executive Order 01.01.2011.12, also known as the Governor's Economic Development and Job Creation Fast Track, O'Malley seeks to create jobs through expediting the review of business and economic development projects that will have significant impact on their respective communities.
FastTrack coordinates the review process by state agencies, such as the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Environmental, Planning, Housing and Community Development. FastTrack complements the Central Business Licensing Initiative already in use under the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Department of Information Technology by providing “a one-stop shop to complete and submit various applications and permits regardless of agency or type of business.” For a project to be eligible for FastTrack review, it must meet certain criteria. First, the project must expect to produce jobs or economic development that will significantly impact Maryland, the region, county or municipality. Second, the project requires that Maryland issue at least one permit. Lastly, the project must either be in a Priority Funding Area, or meet the criteria for an exception. A priority funding area is usually a Protected Forest Area, Transit Oriented Development, an Enterprise Zone, or a Critical Area. A project developer can easily check if his project falls within a Priority Funding Area through an interactive map on the Maryland Made Easy website, www.easy.maryland.gov.
Not all projects will receive FastTrack review. Applications for FastTracking must be submitted to the FastTrack Coordinating Committee. Projects will be evaluated under eight criteria. First, the committee will consider the significance of the potential economic, job and business development of the project of the project in relation to the size of the jurisdiction that the project will benefit. Secondly, the committee will consider whether the project is designated a priority project by local government. Third, the committee will look at whether the project involves either infill development or redevelopment. Fourth, the committee will consider whether the project conflicts with an important state policy of goal, such as whether the project is located in a targeted ecological area. Fifth, the committee will determine whether the project furthers an important state policy or goal. Sixth, the committee will look at how quickly the project will proceed after receiving the necessary permits and approvals. Seventh, the project's environmental impacts will be considered. Lastly, the committee will consider it's own capacity to manage projects accepted for review.
Projects that are recommended by the FastTrack Coordinating Committee must then be brought before the Chair, who will then decide whether to accept a project for review. The Lieutenant Governor will Chair the FastTrack Coordinating Committee. Current Lieutenant Governor Brown said “Governor O'Malley and I believe that state government has a responsibility to lay the foundation for job creation and economic growth in Maryland, and making it easier for companies to do business in our state is a key part of that effort. Our new fast track initiative will help expedite the business development process while maintaining standards for smart growth and environmental protection. I am honored to lead this effort on behalf of Governor O'Malley and I look forward to working closely with Maryland's business community to make the FastTrack program a success.”
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