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Rockville receives $25,000 grant for arts-driven pedestrian safety mural

Aerial photo of street intersection with the corner asphalt decorated with art
Asphalt Art project in Baltimore, MD - Image credit: Bloomberg Philantrophies

Rockville is one of 25 cities from the United States, Canada and Mexico to receive the Bloomberg Philantropies Asphalt Art grant

Article originally published by MoCo360 Media on November 27, 2023

Rockville, in partnership with VisArts, a non-profit visual arts hub based in the city, was awarded $25,000 in November to develop an arts-based pedestrian safety project. The initiative aims to improve street safety and revitalize public space – bringing color and character to Beall Avenue with a mural, according to a VisArts press release.

According to Karyn Miller, the Arts, Culture, and History program manager for the City of Rockville, the project will also enhance a section of Gibbs Street between North Washington Street and Maryland Avenue.

Miller added that in the coming months, the city and VisArts will work to prepare designs for streetscape and safety improvements in the site area and then issue a call for artists to submit mural design ideas.

Alice Nappy, the executive director at VisArts, said the organization is all about integrating the arts into everyday life and said that the project is “right up our alley.”

“As an arts organization, our feeling is that the arts are transformational,” Nappy said. “… I look at the road that site is going to be on, it’s pretty much cars and trucks and buses bustling down and there are people trying to cross the street all the time. If there’s a way to use art to make cars and vehicles pay more attention to, ‘Oh, here’s a place where people might be crossing!’ I think that’s going to be helpful.”

The mural design on Beall Avenue will be selected through a competition, and Rockville in collaboration with VisArts will issue a call for artists to invite them to submit design ideas. The call for artists has not yet been sent out.

“While VisArts is involved, the actual artist or design will be sourced from a wider pool of talent, offering an opportunity for local artists to contribute to this civic project,” Miller wrote in an email.

Rockville is one of 25 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico to receive the grant, which comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies, a New York City-based non-profit organization. According to a press release from VisArts, the city’s project was selected from more than 200 applications.

The Beall Avenue location was chosen due to the need for improved safety measures. According to Miller, the area has been the site of numerous collisions, including six injuries and one death recorded in the last four years.

“This four-block region is an integral part of Rockville Town Center,” Miller stated. “The area sees heavy traffic and is home to a vibrant community life both indoors and out including restaurants, retailers, residential buildings, offices, and cultural facilities. … The asphalt art project entails implementing vibrant designs to the streetscape to highlight road improvements and encourage drivers to be more mindful of their speed.”

Other U.S. cities that received grants are Anderson, South Carolina; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Fall River, Massachusetts; Fort Collins, Colorado; Honolulu; Little Rock, Arkansas; New Orleans; Passaic, New Jersey; Flagstaff, Arizona; Louisville, Kentucky; Minneapolis; Portland, Oregon; Stamford, Connecticut; Milwaukee; and San Francisco.

The grant is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art initiative, which aims to fund and support “arts-driven street redesigns to improve safety, revitalize public space and engage local communities,” a Bloomberg press release said.

According to the release, the Asphalt Art initiative is inspired by the growing number of cities around the world that are using arts- and design-based solutions to improve pedestrian and street safety and create vibrant public spaces. In addition to the grant, Bloomberg will provide the cities with technical consulting.

Monique Ashton, the newly elected Mayor of Rockville, posted about the grant on X, formerly Twitter, on Nov. 15. “Thrilled about this grant and the possibilities to support our #VisionZero efforts while also bringing art and vitality to our community.”

See how streets across the U.S. and around the world have transformed into colorful, pedestrian-oriented blocks in this video posted by Bloomberg Philanthropies on X.

“The Asphalt Art Initiative has proven that when cities invest in these low-cost projects, streets become safer and communities become stronger,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City in a press release. “The new Asphalt Art Initiative projects in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will save more lives, inspire more imaginations, and strengthen more cities across the continent.”

According to Miller, the project is currently in the planning and development stages and Rockville residents can expect to see the completed project by late 2024. She added that the time frame for completion is an estimate and subject to change.

The Rockville community will be kept informed about the progress of the project and will have the chance to engage with the design of the project, according to Miller.


Rockville earns perfect Municipal Equality Index score for seventh year

Traditional Pride Flag with the words 'Love is Love' hung from a City of Rockville tent

The Municipal Equality Index was designed by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to help residents learn how inclusive their city's laws and policies are of LGBTQ+ people.

Rockville, Md., Nov. 27, 2023 – Rockville has scored 100 marks for the city’s commitment to the health, welfare, safety and equality of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in its seventh year of participation in, and the 12th year for, the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.

Rockville scored 95 out of 100, plus an additional 10 bonus points, for its nondiscrimination laws, law enforcement, employment and workplace inclusivity, leadership and services to the LGBTQ+ community. Final scores cannot exceed 100.

“Cities and towns around the country are stepping up each and every day, finding new and innovative ways to empower LGBTQ+ people in the face of a dire national state of emergency,” Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson said in a statement accompanying the report.

The 12th annual MEI scorecard, released in November, analyzes and rates 506 municipalities across the country, measuring each for the inclusivity of laws, policies and services for their LGBTQ communities. Cities rated include the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups’ members and supporters.

Cities are rated across numerous criteria, covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ equality.

Rockville’s MEI report can be found at www.hrc.org/resources/municipalities/rockville-md. Learn more about the MEI at www.hrc.org/resources/municipal-equality-index.

Press release link: https://rockvillereports.com/rockville-nets-another-perfect-mei-score/

June 2023 unemployment rate is lowest in more than 30 years for Montgomery County, Maryland

Montgomery County Seal with Background Image

Economic indicators for June 2023 show continued positive post-pandemic business trends

Montgomery County, Md., Aug. 9 2023 – The June 2023 preliminary unemployment rate in Montgomery County, Maryland was just reported the lowest *June rate in more than 30 years at 1.5%, according to the BLS State and Local Area Unemployment Statistics series. This key metric is the lowest of any June tracking to 1990.

The June unemployment rate was also lower than Maryland’s overall rate, which was 1.7%, compared to the Washington MSA at 2.5% and the national average at 3.8%.

In another positive economic trend, May Montgomery County employment in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services subsector was robust, showing an increase of 2.9% year over year, which is well above the rate of the state and the Washington MSA.

The leisure and hospitality subsector continues to improve, increasing positions by 6% since last May and is now about evenly paced with 2019. Healthcare and social assistance jobs increased 5.5% year over year, ahead of Maryland, the Washington MSA and the nation.

“It is extremely gratifying to see these positive trends in our economy,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “These trends are a sign that businesses are coming back following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fortunate to have a diverse economy that is anchored by several federal agencies, a strong biotech industry as well as travel and tourism. We collectively support our businesses to build a stronger economy as we continue post-pandemic recovery efforts.”

“The growth in Montgomery County, with unemployment at a record low 1.5%, shows the strength and resilience of our business community,” said MCEDC President & CEO Bill Tompkins.” It is also exciting to see the substantial growth in professional, scientific and technical services, areas where Montgomery County continues to shine.”

*All figures, including U.S., are non-seasonal.

Watch County Executive Marc Elrich’s press conference here.

See the economic indicators infographic here.


About Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC)

The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) is the official public-private economic development organization representing Montgomery County, Maryland. Created in 2016, MCEDC is led by a Board of Directors of business executives. Its mission is to help businesses start, grow and relocate in Montgomery County by helping them gain access to top talent, business and market intelligence and prime locations. For more information, visit https://thinkmoco.com/

Link to press release: https://thinkmoco.com/blog/montgomerycounty-june2023-unemployment

Rockville named 12th safest suburb in the United States

View of tree-lined street

Rockville placed 12th out of 370 suburbs in SmartAsset's 2023 report

SmartAsset, an online consumer-focused financial information website has released a study of 370 U.S. suburbs with a population of at least 5,000 that are within 15 to 45 minutes of the 100 largest U.S. cities. 

Rockville, MD was ranked the 12th safest of the 370  U.S. suburbs analyzed in SmartAsset’s 2023 report

To find the safest suburbs, SmartAsset compared the data for the 370 suburbs by the following metrics:

  • Violent crime rate
  • Property crime rate
  • Vehicular mortality rate
  • Drug poisoning mortality rate
  • Percentage of the population engaging in excessive drinking

All metrics were measured at the county level, with the exception of violent and property crime data which was measured at the city level.

Rockville ranked 8th best place to live in Maryland in 2023 Niche report

outdoor photo of Rockville

Rockville's diversity, public schools, health & fitness and family-friendly appeal helped earn the city a top spot on Niche's list

Niche.com, a popular website that provides rankings, reviews and data on various aspects of cities, schools, colleges, neighborhoods, and workplaces around the U.S., recently published its 2023 ‘Best Places to Live’ lists, ranking Rockville as the 8th best place to live in Maryland.

Niche’s ranks over 50,000 U.S. cities by collecting and analyzing data from federal and local government data sets including education, housing, diversity, crime rates, employment opportunities and amenities.

Niche’s top 10 Best Cities to Live in Maryland in 2023 are:

  1. North Bethesda
  2. North Potomac
  3. South Kensington
  4. Chevy Chase
  5. Bethesda
  6. Ellicot City
  7. Potomac
  8. Rockville
  9. Fulton
  10. Four Corners

View Niche’s profile on Rockville at https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/rockville-montgomery-md/

Rockville ranked as eight most ethnically diverse city in U.S. in 2023

Rockville placed 8 of 501 in WalletHub's 2023 study of cities in America

According to a study of ethnically diverse places in America conducted by WalletHub, Rockville ranks eight overall and fourth among small cities for its ethnic diversity. More than one-third of Rockville’s 67,117 residents were born outside of the U.S.

Four of the top 10 most diverse cities in the country are in Montgomery County, Maryland. The personal finance website placed Germantown, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Rockville among its top ten “2023 Most & Least Ethnically Diverse Cities in the U.S.” Rockville has ranked within the top 10 spots of WalletHub’s ethnic diversity study from 2017-2022.

WalletHub compared the most populated U.S. cities across three key metrics:

  1. Ethnoracial Diversity
  2. Linguistic Diversity
  3. Birthplace Diversity

Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most ethnic diversity. The weighted average across all metrics were determined to calculate the “Ethnic Diversity Score” for cities and the resulting scores to rank-order the sample.

The top 10 most diverse cities in America, in order, were:

  1. Germantown, MD
  2. Jersey City, NJ
  3. Gaithersburg, MD
  4. Silver Spring, MD
  5. New York, NY
  6. Kent, WA
  7. Spring Valley, NV
  8. Rockville, MD
  9. San Jose, CA
  10. Oakland, CA

Learn more about Rockville’s economy, workforce and amenities here

To view the full list of cities in WalletHub’s 2023 report, please visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/cities-with-the-most-and-least-ethno-racial-and-linguistic-diversity/10264


Rockville Little Theatre’s PRIDE@PREJUDICE advances to Eastern States Festival after Maryland Community Festival win

Left to right: David Gross, President-MCFTA; Teresa Gillcrist, P@P Producer, RLT, Laura W. Andruski, P@P Director, RLT; Scott loom, VP-MCTFA. Photo credit: Vanessa Bisbee Markowitz

Rockville Little Theatre's PRIDE@PREJUDICE garnered multiple accolades including 'Outstanding Production'

Rockville, Md., Feb. 20, 2023 – Rockville Little Theatre performed a 45-minute selection from their recent production of PRIDE@PREJUDICE by Daniel Elihu Kramer at the Maryland Community Theatre Festival (mctfa.org) held in La Plata on February 11 – 12.  PRIDE@PREJUDICE was originally performed at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville, MD  from January 28 – February 5.

RLT competed against six other productions: Kentland’s Community Players, Port Tobacco Players, Raging Hag Productions, Newtowne Players, New Direction Community Theatre and The British Players.

PRIDE@PREJUDICE was directed by Laura W. Andrusk and produced by Teresa Gillcrist.  The Assistant Director/Technical Director was Aaron Skolnik. The cast included Niranjali Amerasinghe, Lena Winter, Meghan Williams Elkins, Ian Swank and Joseph Coracle.

PRIDE@PREJUDICE garnered the following accolades:

  • Outstanding Stage Manager to Aaron Skolnik,
  • Outstanding Ensemble Performance,
  • Outstanding Achievement in Acting to John Coracle,
  • Ed-Ro-Char Award for Technical Excellence, and
  • Outstanding Production.

The win for Outstanding Production allows Rockville Little Theatre the opportunity to take their production to the Eastern States Theatre Festival (estafestival.org/) in Wilmington, DE on April 14  –  16.

About Rockville Little Theatre

Rockville Little Theater (RLT) was founded in 1948 and is the oldest continuously operating 501(c)3 nonprofit live theatre in the Rockville area. RLT provides high quality performances at reasonable prices. We strive to entertain, enlighten and educate all who attend our theatrical events. RLT offers an opportunity for community members to step out of their everyday lives and to assume new roles as playwrights, actors, directors, costume designers, set designers, and audiences. Learn more at http://www.rlt-online.org/

Rockville ranked 20th Best Place to Live in the U.S. in 2022 by digital platform, Money

Street in downtown Rockville, MD

A diverse city, according to Money's data, Rockville is business friendly and home to some of the most prominent biomedical and technology companies

Digital platform, Money, announced its annual ranking of the Best Places to Live spotlighting 50 cities and towns with strong labor markets, affordable homes, and racial, economic and cultural diversity.

For 2022’s Best Places to Live list, Money looked at towns and cities with a population of at least 20,000, and made its selection based on cost of living, economic opportunity, and diversity, among other factors.

“This year’s Best Places to Live ranking highlights the amazing cities and towns the country has to offer – with a hard examination of what matters most,” said Executive Editor, Mike Ayers. “Money hopes readers will find the places with the most opportunity for whatever’s next in their lives.”

Money’s Top 20 Best Places to Live include:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Tempa, AZ
  3. Kirkland, WA
  4. Raleigh, NC
  5. Rogers Park, IL
  6. Columbia, MD
  7. Somerville, MA
  8. Ann Arbor, MI
  9. Tampa, FL
  10. Jersey City, NJ
  11. Boise City, ID
  12. Chapel Hill, NC
  13. Irvine, CA
  14. Fort Lee, NJ
  15. Arlington, VA
  16. Naperville, IL
  17. Milton, MA
  18. Fremont, CA
  19. Carmel, IN
  20. Rockville, MD

View Rockville’s profile on Money’s 2022 Best Places to Live here: https://money.com/best-places-to-live/rockville-maryland/




Rockville ranks as one of the most diverse cities in America in 2022

Rockville placed 10 of 501 in WalletHub's 2022 study of cities in America

According to a study of ethnically diverse places in America conducted by WalletHub, four of the top 10 most diverse cities in the country are in Montgomery County, Maryland. The personal finance website placed Germantown, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Rockville among its top ten “2022 Most & Least Ethnically Diverse Cities in the U.S.”

WalletHub compared the most populated U.S. cities across three key metrics:

  1. Ethnoracial Diversity
  2. Linguistic Diversity
  3. Birthplace Diversity

Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most ethnic diversity. The weighted average across all metrics were determined to calculate the “Ethnic Diversity Score” for cities and the resulting scores to rank-order the sample.

The top 10 most diverse cities in America, in order, were:

  1. Jersey City, NJ
  2. Germantown, MD
  3. Gaithersburg, MD
  4. Silver Spring, MD
  5. Spring Valley, NV
  6. New York, NY
  7. Kent, WA
  8. San Jose, CA
  9. Oakland, CA
  10. Rockville, MD

Learn more about Rockville’s economy, workforce and amenities here

To view the full list of cities in WalletHub’s 2022 report, please visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/cities-with-the-most-and-least-ethno-racial-and-linguistic-diversity/10264


Maryland Women’s Business Center Shop Local incubator featured in Fox 5 DC’s Zip Trip in Rockville

The segment included interviews with a MWBC Shop Local vendor and a graduate of the program - Saints Valley

On July 8, 2022 regional news channel, Fox 5 DC, aired their popular series ‘Zip Trip’ live from Rockville. Zip Trip is part of Fox 5 DC’s weekly series that highlights the best spots to visit around the D.C. region.

The Maryland Women’s Business Center Shop Local was invited to participate in Zip Trip as one of Rockville’s local business highlights. The segment included an overview of the MWBC Shop Local program with the Training & Events Manager, Thomas Squire, interviews with a current Shop Local vendor, Sheila Rose of Great Glass Creations, and a program graduate Lilit Ghazaryan who owns Saints Valley in Rockville Town Square.

Check out the MWBC Shop Local’s segment below!
About MWBC Shop Local

Shop Local is a retail business incubator program of the Maryland Women’s Business Center, an SBA-certified business development center, under Rockville Economic Development Inc. The program began in Rockville in 2018 with the partnership and sponsorship of Federal Realty Investment Trust. Shop Local provides support to the program’s entrepreneurs by providing free mentorship, expertise, access to investors, and in some cases, working capital in the form of a loan or grant. Learn more about MWBC Shop Local at https://mwbcshoplocal.com/about-the-program/