David Blair, the wealthy Montgomery County businessman and novice candidate whose self-funded campaign fell a few dozen votes short in last year’s Democratic primary for county executive, announced Thursday that he and his wife have launched a nonprofit think tank to focus on state and local issues.
The think tank is part of Blair’s effort to remain politically active and visible in the county and – while he isn’t saying so – keep his options open for future elections.
In a news release, Blair and his wife Mikel said the new think tank, the Council for Advocacy and Policy Solutions (CAPS), “will bridge community and politics, by providing information and education on the impact of current and upcoming local and state-wide legislation. We will conduct studies on best practices across the country and offer solutions to local challenges. As an information resource and a hub for innovative and attainable solutions, we aim to empower residents to join the conversation and to be a part of the solution.”
Blair said the decision to create a think tank came after months of talking with community leaders about the county’s greatest challenges, “including overcrowded schools and lack of resources for school construction, an affordable housing shortage, and ineffective business retention and expansion plans resulting in a sluggish job market.”
A first project for CAPS and Blair will be the creation of a seed-stage incubator program for undergraduate and graduate students attending Maryland institutions of higher education who are reaching the end of their academic careers. CAPS will provide a physical space in the Tower Oaks building in Rockville for early-stage companies, as well as access to mentors and funding.
CAPS is looking to partner with Maryland higher education institutions and will partner with the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, so students can make connections in the local business community. The first class of entrepreneurs is expected this year.
“We have bright students, and brilliant faculty within Maryland’s business schools, and that’s something worth investing in and cultivating,” Blair said. “We’ll provide space for these early-stage businesses, connect students with established business leaders within the community to provide networking and mentorship, and facilitate introductions to angel investors.”