Rockville Economic Development, Inc. marked its 20th year with continued growth in its mission of helping businesses locate, launch and expand in Rockville.

REDI’s programs include the Maryland Women’s Business Center, a program of Rockville, which helps entrepreneurs start and grow women-owned businesses positioned for long-term growth. Together in 2017, REDI and MWBC assisted more than 250 businesses, with MWBC helping launch 52 new businesses in Maryland and serving more than 1,200 individuals, helping to increase client sales by $2.1 million and making a positive impact on the state’s economy.

In 2017, Rockville again led Maryland municipalities with an average unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, well below the average municipal unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, Paul Newman, REDI’s board president, wrote in a letter introducing the report.

“Steady growth of private sector employment opportunities brings economic benefits to Rockville residents,” Newman wrote. The city’s overall commercial vacancy rate dropped from 14.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2016 to 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, with a slight rise in office rental rates, “an indication that there is demand for the office market in the city,” he wrote.

One year in, the Rockville MOVE Program, which provides relocation assistance to companies moving into the city, and the Business Expansion Fund, which provides grants to businesses that are growing, have proven successful. Through the programs, REDI assisted eight new or expanding companies, occupying a total of nearly 40,000 square feet and representing 85 jobs.

Read the full report at REDI Executive Director Laurie Boyer offers an overview of the report in an interview with Rockville 11 at Search “REDI 2017.”