Talbot County Economic Development Solicits Input on Updating Strategic Plan

Talbot County’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism wants to hear from you!

In an effort to update the County’s strategic plan for economic development, the department will hold listening sessions at select locations around the county to gather input from area business owners and elected officials.

The first listening session will be held in Easton on February 2 at 8 a.m. in the Wye Oak Room at the Talbot County Community Center. Business leaders are invited to attend and express their hopes and concerns about the economic future of Talbot County.

“This process gives members of our business community the opportunity to share their vision for the county and voice their concerns in a public forum,” says Talbot County Economic Development Coordinator Sam Shoge. “We invite our business owners to come out and tell us what they need.”

Tim Jones, chairman of the Talbot County Economic Development Commission, says developing a well thought out plan for business development is key to Talbot County’s future.

“This planning process will allow Talbot County to develop a plan to grow our business base while maintaining the county’s character that is so important to each of us,” he explains. “Through a focused approach to economic development, we will be able to provide our residents an opportunity not only to live, but also to work, in Talbot County.”

Community input is vital to the strategic planning process, says Talbot County Council President Jennifer Williams.

“Our dynamic economic development team is looking for help in prioritizing their efforts,” Williams says. “They are excited and ready to go to work, but want to make sure that the course they take reflects the wants and needs of our citizens. I urge businesses throughout the county, whether large or small, to come out and be heard and help us shape the best course possible for Talbot County.”

In addition to the Easton meeting on February 2, other meetings include Trappe on March 2 at the Trappe Volunteer Fire Company; Oxford on April 6 at the Oxford Community Center; and St. Michaels on May 4 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Van Lennup Auditorium.

For more information, contact the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism at (410) 770-8058.

County Merges Economic Development and Tourism; Shoge Named Economic Development Coordinator

The Talbot County Council has announced that it will merge its offices of economic development and tourism to form a single department.

Cassandra Vanhooser, who currently serves as tourism director, has been tapped to lead the new Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Vanhooser assumed the role of tourism director in February 2013 after many years as a travel writer. Since coming to Talbot County, she has overseen the remaking of the county’s image as a premier travel destination. The Office of Tourism has redesigned its website, expanded its presence on social media, and partnered with Chesapeake Bay Magazine to develop a widely circulated destination guide for the county.

Cassandra Vanhooser

Cassandra Vanhooser

In 2015, the Talbot County Office of Tourism won the Maryland Office of Tourism Development’s Visit Maryland Award for outstanding investment and performance in improving and promoting Maryland’s image as a travel destination. The office also recently won the Maryland Tourism Coalition’s 2016 Visionary Impact Award for its efforts in hosting travel writers and destination representatives in Talbot County for a three-day conference and familiarization trip this past September.

Before coming to Talbot County, Vanhooser spent more than 14 years as a travel and features writer at Southern Living magazine, where she first covered Georgia, then Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. She also served as the magazine’s football editor and wrote the narrative sections of Southern Living’s Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook. She is a winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for excellence in travel writing.

“I have traveled the world, and I truly believe Talbot County’s is one of the most beautiful and special places in the United States,” Vanhooser says. “A strong business community ensures that both residents and visitors alike will enjoy this place we love so much for generations to come.”

Samuel Shoge also joins the department as economic development coordinator.

A native of Chestertown, Shoge currently serves on the Chestertown Town Council and has served on the Chestertown Planning Commission. He is one of the founders of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, where he helped grow membership and engage working professionals to get them involved in the community.
In addition to his public service, Shoge previously worked as assistant director of the Office of Admissions at Washington College. He also chaired the government relations committee for the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling where he lobbied the Maryland state legislature for higher education initiatives.

Sam Shoge

Sam Shoge

“I was raised on the Eastern Shore, and I have chosen to stay on the Eastern Shore,” Shoge says. “This is where I am most at home. I have always been a champion of the people I serve, and I will be a champion for Talbot County. I look forward to meeting with our businesses and learning more about their industries and specific needs.”
The Talbot County Council believes it makes sense to more closely align the efforts of economic development and tourism both of which share marketing and communications as foundations. Research shows that the perception of an area’s business climate is positively influenced by marketing to leisure travelers. People who choose Talbot County as a vacation destination may also be potential business leads.

Further, the visitor economy supports quality-of-life amenities that attract investment from other business sectors. Talbot County has a terrific culinary scene, beautiful accommodations, amazing arts and culture, and a wealth of activities that not only appeal to visitors, but also make this a great place to live and work.
“We look forward to the energy and collaboration the new structure will bring to this department,” says Talbot County Council President Corey Pack. “We have built a department that we believe can help us better support our business community and help lead us toward a bright future. Cassandra and Sam will make a great team. Talbot County is open for business!”

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Business Networking Coffee Hour Celebrates Waterfowl Festival

The Talbot County Office of Economic Development, Waterfowl Chesapeake, and Easton Utilities have teamed up to host “Coffee and Conservation,” a networking event to celebrate the opening of the 46th Annual Waterfowl Festival.

The coffee hour will be held in the Waterfowl Conservation Pavilion at 11 South Harrison Street from 8:30-9:30 a.m. on Friday, November 11. It is designed to connect the business community with the mission of Waterfowl Chesapeake and celebrate the business of conserving our environmental resources.

Waterfowl Chesapeake is dedicated to being a funder of initiatives that help conserve waterfowl and their habitat, to being a convener of organizations and groups that support education and conservation, and to act as a source for information on waterfowl-related programs.

“We are thrilled with the response to this year’s “Coffee and Conservation” networking event,” says Waterfowl Chesapeake Executive Director Margaret Enloe. “Waterfowl is all about community, all year round, and we are looking forward to working with the business community on innovative conservation initiatives across Delmarva.”

At 9:45 a.m., attendees will be invited to walk over to the Waterfowl Building for the Festival’s Flag Raising Ceremony at 10 a.m. in honor of Veterans Day. Easton High School Junior ROTC will present the colors.

For more information, contact the Talbot County Office of Economic Development at (410) 770-8058.

And the Winners Are… Talbot County Business Appreciation Awards Handed Out

The 8th Annual Talbot County Business Appreciation Breakfast was held on Friday, April 22 at the Elks Lodge in Easton with approximately 225 representatives from the business community.

The Business Appreciation Breakfast celebrated people working in Talbot County, with “Our People Make It Work,” as a tribute to the talent and hard work of individuals that make Talbot County a special community.

The Talbot County Economic Development Commission hosted the event with the Talbot County Office of Economic Development to recognize projects completed in the preceding year, which represent extraordinary contributions to the economic base of the county.

The program included an official welcome by the Economic Development Commission Chair, Timothy G. Jones and an update on the status of county activity by Talbot County Council President, Corey W. Pack.

The keynote address for the breakfast was provided by Congressman Andrew P. Harris, M.D., who has served as the first Congressional District’s representative since 2011. Congressman Harris provided comments and updates on national legislation and trends impacting the economy.

Awards were presented to 11 individuals and businesses for excellence in Innovation, Expansion, Investment, Tourism and Agriculture. Award winners included:

Talbot County Innovator Award recognized Richard Bernstein, President, CEO, REMCO, for his creation of REMCO Properties and investment in Waterside Village, a mixed use project that includes professional office space, retail, dining, and large retailers in its 4 phases of development.

Talbot County Award for Investment recognized Evans Analytical Group (EAG), the world's leading, fully integrated, independent laboratory network, headquartered in Santa Clara, California who completed a $6 Million expansion to the Wildlife International facility in Easton in 2015.

Talbot County Award for Expansion was received by Konsyl Pharmaceuticals, Inc., privately held by ICC Industries and located at the Clifton Industrial Park, who completed a major expansion under the leadership of Frank Gunsallus.

Talbot County Award for Innovation was presented to the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) for the pledged $6 million for adaptive reuse of the McCord Building, an Easton landmark located at 114 South Washington Street and constructed in 1925. Now known as The Eastern Shore Conservation Commission Hosts 8 h Annual Business Appreciation Breakfast April 22 Center, the facility serves as the ESLC Headquarters, and includes tenants Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Town Creek Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and others.

Talbot County Award for Agriculture Investment recognized Nagel Farm Service, Inc, who completed the first phase of a multi-year, multimillion dollar expansion and added 800,000 bushels of storage capacity to their Wye Mills facility. Talbot County Tourism Investment Award recognized the Pascal Family Group who purchased Michener’s, a destination for visitors and hunters in Trappe, and the iconic Mason’s restaurant in Easton and reopened them under the Pascal brand as the Talbot Smokehouse and Pascal’s Chop House, respectively, with a new menu created by Executive Chef David Hayes.

Town of Easton recognized Rise Up Coffee Roasters, an Eastern Shore original founded in 2005 by Owner/Operator Timothy Cureton who has developed a thriving online and wholesale division and now employs 50 local people.

Town of Oxford recognized Campbell’s Boatyards, owned and operated by Tom and Susan Campbell since 1991 and now overseeing three marina complexes (Bachelors Point, Jack’s Point, and Town Creek) for the importance of the maritime trades and the number of visitors who come to the historic sailing town of Oxford by boat as an economic base vital to their town.

Town of St. Michaels recognized Brad Fout of Calico Gallery and Ilene Morgan from The Shops at Sea Captain’s Cottage for their creation and success of Midnight Madness in St. Michaels which kicks off the Christmas season with a hallmark celebration. Midnight Madness is a reminder of how important the small business sector is to our economy and why it is so important to “Shop Local” all year round to help support locally owned small businesses and the people they hire.

Town of Trappe recognized Jim Dawson, owner of The Unicorn Bookshop, located on Route 50 and featuring approximately 30,000 volumes specializing in Maryland and Eastern Shore history, maps, and the writings of Gilbert Byron.

The Annual Business Appreciation Breakfast provided each award recipient with an engraved pewter tray, handcrafted in Easton by Salisbury Pewter. The awards were made possible by sponsors including: 1880 Bank; Easton Airport; The Henker Group; M&T Bank; and The Star Democrat.

The Breakfast sponsors included: Atlantic Financial Group, LLC.; Avon Dixon Insurance and The Talbot Bank; Chesapeake Utilities; Easton Utilities; Pixel Print & Post; Provident State Bank; Quality Health Strategies; University of Maryland Shore Regional Health; Wells Fargo Advisors; Willow Construction. The Talbot County Economic Report, "Talbot County, Maryland, Our People Make It Work." may be viewed and downloaded on the County’s website at www.talbotcountymd.gov.

Contractual Support for County Business Retention Call Program

The Talbot County Office of Economic Development is pleased to announce that Mark D. Greene, Sr. was recently hired as a contractual Business Retention Specialist to support the Talbot County Office of Economic Development‘s Business Retention Call Program activities. The ability to bring on additional staff in the area of business retention is critical in supporting the existing business community, says Paige Bethke, Director of the Office of Economic Development, and is a priority of the Talbot County Council.

Mr. Greene comes to Talbot County following an extensive career in the financial services and real estate development sectors. Most recently, he served as a Business Consultant with the Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation where he identified and assisted start-up businesses with strategic planning, marketing research, staffing, operations and financial resources to leverage business growth throughout the Mid-Shore area.

Prior to Mr. Greene’s arrival, Paige Bethke had been managing the Business Retention Call Program since becoming Director in 2004.

Mr. Greene’s primary focus will be to meet with existing businesses to tour their facilities, review various aspects of their current operation, and learn about requirements the companies have identified as necessary to support their growth. Utilizing an established network of business partners and programs as a referral system, Mr. Greene will be able to provide the businesses with opportunities to leverage their resources to attain their goals.

Mark Greene may be reached at 410-770-6811 or mgreene@talbotcountymd.gov.

Two Members Appointed to the Economic Development Commission

The Talbot County Office of Economic Development Commission is pleased to announce the appointment of Lloyd (Scott) L. Beatty, Jr. and Alexander M. Bond to the Talbot County Economic Development Commission (EDC). Mr. Beatty, President and CEO of Shore Bancshares, Inc., represents Large Businesses; Mr. Bond, Executive Director of the Avalon Foundation, Inc. represents the Arts as an Ex-Officio member.

The Talbot County Economic Development Commission consists of eighteen members, seven of whom are appointed by the County Council for three-year terms as at-large members; four representatives are selected by the municipalities of the Town of Easton, the Town of Oxford, the Town of St. Michaels and the Town of Trappe; the remaining seven members serve in an ex-officio capacity. The role of the Economic Development Commission is to advise the Talbot County Council on economic matters and to support the initiatives of the Talbot County Office of Economic Development.

Lloyd L. “Scott” Beatty, Jr., is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Shore Bancshares, Inc., a position he has held since June of 2013. Shore Bancshares, Inc. is a $1.1 billion financial holding company headquartered in Easton, Maryland. It is the largest independent financial services company on the Delmarva Peninsula that offers banking, insurance and wealth management services to families and businesses. Mr. Beatty has served as Director of Shore Bancshares, Inc. since December 2000 and Director of The Talbot Bank of Easton since 1992. Mr. Beatty’s previous positions with Shore Bancshares, Inc. include Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) (2007 – 2013); Vice President and COO (2006) and Vice President (2004 – 2006).. Before joining Shore Bancshares, Inc., Mr. Beatty served as COO of Darby Overseas Investments, LP, a global private equity firm, and President of Darby Advisors, Inc., a privately held family investment business, from 1998 to 2005. He also practiced as a Certified Public Accountant for 25 years and was a partner with the accounting firm, Beatty, Satchell & Company, in Easton. In addition to his professional career, Mr. Beatty serves on the Board of Directors for Chesapeake Conservancy, Mid-Shore Community Foundation and the Copper Ridge Institute.

Mr. Bond has served as the Executive Director of the Avalon Foundation, Inc. the largest arts organization on the Eastern Shore for the past six years. The Foundation has an annual budget of approximately $1.7 million and reaches approximately 150,000 people through its programming. The Avalon Foundation operates the Avalon Theatre; Stoltz Listening Room; Plein Air Easton; Easton Farmers Market; Summer Concerts in the Street Series; Easton Independence Day Celebration; Arts-In-Easton Banner Program; Easton Multi-Cultural Festival; MCTV, Talbot County’s cable access station; Six Weeks of Theatre, a dance and film summer camp; and an extensive program for young audiences in conjunction with Talbot County Public Schools. In 2013 35 organizations utilized the Avalon Theatre to produce 89 events.

Prior to working for the Avalon Foundation, Mr. Bond served as Economic Development Manager for the Town of Easton for seven years during which time he provided economic research and advice to the Mayor and Town Council. Additionally, the Town lent Mr. Bond to its “Main Street” Program, which combines historic preservation, marketing and traditional economic development to revitalize downtown Easton.

Talbot County Economic Development Commission Meetings are held at 8:00 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month, unless otherwise noted. All meetings are open to the public and are advertised on the County’s website. The next Economic Development Commission meeting will be held on Thursday, February 5, 2015 in Conference Room #1 at the Talbot County Government Office Building located on 215 Bay Street, Suite 5, Easton, MD 21601.

For more information, please contact the Talbot County Office of Economic Development at (410) 770-6811.