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County Joins Nationwide Network of Communities Dedicated to Improving Quality of Life for All Residents

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today launched the Age-Friendly Baltimore County initiative, an effort that aims to ensure all people, regardless of age, who live, work, play, raise their families and age in Baltimore County do so with the best quality of life possible.

"A better Baltimore County is one where all residents feel welcome and can take comfort in knowing that their needs are being met," Olszewski said. "Building such a community requires all partners and stakeholders working together and Age-Friendly Baltimore County will bring us together to work toward this important goal."

It is projected that 25 percent of Baltimore County residents will be 60 or older by 2020. Recognizing the importance of building communities where all residents can thrive, Olszewski and the Baltimore County Department of Aging earlier this year applied to the World Health Organization (WHO) and AARP to receive an age-friendly community designation.

Age-Friendly Communities commit to improving livability through an assessment of needs, development of an action plan, implementation of new projects and programs, and ongoing assessment—all with the involvement of residents and stakeholder partners. The eight areas of focus are:

  1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Social participation
  5. Respect and social inclusion
  6. Civic participation and employment
  7. Communication and information
  8. Community support and health services

"Our residents are an integral, vibrant part of our communities, and we owe it to all of them to ensure we are cultivating an inclusive, accessible community that boosts their quality of life," said Laura Riley, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Aging.

Launching the Initiative

Olszewski and Riley joined the AARP, Attorney General Brian Frosh, and representatives from more than 50 organizations to launch Age-Friendly Baltimore County at an event at Towson University. Attendees signed up to participate in working groups organized around the focus areas of the initiative.

"The benefits to communities that recognize and incorporate the needs of citizens of all ages cannot be overstated. In just 11 years—by 2030—all 77 million baby boomers will be 65-plus," said AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg. "With admission into the AARP (World Health Organization) network, Baltimore County will benefit from inclusion in a global network of nearly 400 jurisdictions committed to giving all residents the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives in communities intentionally designed for the continuum of life."

The initiative is a five-year process that will result in various policies and improvements. The first year will focus on establishing an advisory group and gathering input from the community in a variety of settings, including focus groups, listening sessions, workgroups and surveys. In year two, the advisory group will work with the county to develop an action plan. In years three to five, the county will focus on implementation of the action plan. Following implementation, the county will report on its progress.

Learn more about the Age Friendly Communities Network from the WHO or AARP. For more information about Baltimore County’s efforts, visit the Department of Aging.

RISE Zones designed to spur economic development and job creation

Baltimore County is supporting a new State designation for Towson University to maximize their economic development impact. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Commerce in support of Towson University’s designation as a qualified Maryland Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise (RISE) Zone institution. Once approved, the University is eligible for full designation as a RISE Zone.

The RISE Zone program was established by the State to leverage the economic development potential of Maryland’s higher education institutions.

“RISE Zone designation for Towson University will build on their leadership in attracting innovation companies to the TU incubator, with the potential to further support emerging companies that locate and create new jobs in Towson,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Towson University has strong economic development impact in areas near the university. The University has a presence in downtown Towson with its Center for Well-Being, Hussman Center for Adults with Autism, and affiliated WTMD Radio studios at Towson City Center.

“Towson University is a significant economic driver of a knowledge-based economy for Towson, the county and greater Baltimore,” said Towson University President Kim Schatzel. “The RISE Zone designation will advance the university’s connectedness and impact throughout the region. TU’s $1.8 billion annual economic impact, including $150 million generated by the TU incubator, makes us a sought-after partner for established businesses and start-ups alike. The RISE Zone designation will help position Greater Towson as a leader in technological innovation, entrepreneurship and a knowledge-based economy.”

Revised September 11, 2017