Save the Date: Senior Financial Exploitation Workshop Scheduled for June 13

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Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century,” according to the National Council on Aging. In addition, “The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse” reports that the annual financial loss by victims of elder abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion, a 12% increase since 2008.

On Friday, June 13, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Talbot County’s Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force is hosting its second annual Financial Exploitation Workshop at the Talbot Senior Center at Brookletts Place in Easton, MD. The workshop, which coincides with National Elder Abuse Awareness Day that week, will educate the community about the risks and vulnerabilities that our seniors face, particularly in regard to financial, Medicare and insurance fraud and marketing scams.

The issue of financial exploitation by mail, computer and phone is increasingly affecting seniors every day. Awareness is key to preventing this abuse. Seniors, children of seniors, caregivers and concerned citizens who want to learn more about risks and vulnerabilities seniors face today are encouraged to attend.

The event is sponsored by a task force comprised of local professionals from The Talbot Bank, the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP/SMP), Home Instead Senior Care, Talbot County Department of Social Services, the Maryland Insurance Administration, and Edward Jones. Lunch will be provided.

For further information or to register, contact Brookletts Place at 410-822-2869.

Chris Johnson Joins Staff of Bay Pilates

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Bay Pilates and Wellness, LLC, announces the addition of Pilates teacher and personal trainer, Chris Johnson, to their staff. Johnson has 20 years of fitness experience in Pilates, personal training, kickboxing and spinning.

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Chris Johnson

She received her Pilates certification from Power Pilates and teaches the classical style adding a strong emphasis on therapeutic and rehabilitative techniques. Johnson’s mat class was voted Best Pilates Class on the Eastern Shore by What’s Up Magazine for the 2013/2014 year. She resides in Easton.

Bay Pilates owner, Lorri Wilson-Clarke says, “I am excited to have Chris join our team. She has the ability to motivate healthy populations along with improving range of motion, core strength, and stamina for individuals having special needs. Chris is accepting new evening clients of all ages and fitness levels and has a new client special rate of 5 private lessons for $149.”

Bay Pilates and Wellness is located at 295 Bay Street, Suite 5, Easton. Services include private and small group lesson for Pilates, CoreAlign, Barre, Personal Training, Reiki and Meditation. Online scheduling is offered at baypilates.net or call 410-924-0451 for more information.

Maryland Companies Have Billions in Assets Overseas

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The president’s budget, released in early March, called for the creation of a national fund to finance repair of the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure — an idea also proposed by a freshman Maryland congressman.

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US Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac

Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac, wants to fund infrastructure repair by bringing home billions of dollars in foreign earnings from U.S.-based corporations.  The congressman said he has been long concerned about decaying infrastructure.

Delaney’s Partnership to Build America Act would create a new way to pay for these repairs. Corporations would provide the money by buying bonds in The American Infrastructure Fund.

In exchange, they would be allowed to bring back money locked up overseas without paying the full 35 percent corporate tax rate.

Delaney’s bill could come as a relief to corporations with large foreign operations that have deferred paying U.S. corporate taxes on their overseas earnings indefinitely. For example, 10 Maryland-based multinational corporations, including Columbia-based MICROS Systems Inc. and Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc., are holding a combined $3.5 billion overseas, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 1.42.15 PMWhile it would mean a major tax savings, none of the 10 publicly held Maryland companies contacted would comment on the proposed legislation.

One expert said there’s little incentive to bring the funds back with so much business opportunity overseas. Instead, it makes sense for U.S. companies to let the overseas funds stay put and postpone a U.S. tax bill.

“It’s better to defer,” said Michael Faulkender, a finance professor at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

Further, the Delaney proposal is out of sync with many plans to overhaul the U.S. tax code, he said. “Every proposal on the table is for the corporate tax rate to go down, not up.”

Rich Badmington, W.R. Grace & Co.’s vice president of global communications, said most of the Columbia chemical company’s revenue comes from international operations. The company plans to continue investing in those operations.

“We are able to do that without bringing cash back to the U.S. because we are continuing to invest,” Badmington said. “(Research and development) is a function that requires continuing investment and we have quite a lot of that outside the U.S.”

President Barack Obama’s latest budget plan called for the creation of a government-owned entity to finance infrastructure projects. Delaney said the president’s support for something similar to his bill was “great,” and said it shows how much momentum the bill has.

“We’re very optimistic about it, we have strong bipartisan support,” Delaney said.

The bill has 57 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., head of the Senate Finance Committee’s Taxation and IRS Oversight subcommittee. Hearings have not been scheduled for the bill.

Under the tax code, corporations can avoid paying taxes on foreign earnings as long as the money is being permanently reinvested overseas. When the corporations decide to bring these funds back home, a process called “repatriation,” the money then is subject to U.S. taxes.

Originally, the tax exemption was meant to help U.S. corporations compete overseas, said Mitchell Kane, a tax professor at New York University’s School of Law. Companies claimed paying taxes in two countries would put them at a disadvantage and the government responded with the exemption, he said.

The plan was to have the companies pay foreign taxes, which in many cases are lower than the U.S. tax rate, and then pay U.S. taxes when the money was repatriated. After this process, the company would receive a credit for any foreign taxes paid, Kane said.

Allowing such an exemption has created an incentive for companies to keep their money overseas and defer the U.S. corporate tax, said Jane Gravelle, an economist with the Congressional Research Service. But parking money offshore isn’t a long-term solution for companies, she added.

“They may think they can hold their breath forever and borrow money,” Gravelle said. “How long are they going to be able to do that? Shareholders eventually want dividends.”

This exemption could result in $265.7 billion in lost revenue for the federal government through 2017, according to a 2013 report by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

For now, however, companies aren’t likely to repatriate without a major tax discount.

W.R. Grace has more than $1.1 billion held overseas and would have to pay $149.7 million in taxes if it was repatriated, according to SEC filings. That money will remain overseas, except in instances where repatriation would result in minimal or no U.S. taxes, the company said in its most recent SEC filing.

MICROS Systems, a Maryland-based computer hardware and software producer, has about 61 percent of its cash and cash equivalents, $385.8 million, held internationally with no plans to repatriate, according to the company’s most recent filings with the SEC.

Maryland-based apparel company Under Armour has $95.2 million, or 27 percent, of its cash and cash equivalents held overseas with no plans to bring it back.

Spokespersons from MICROS and Under Armour could not be reached for comment.

Other companies have begun to repatriate their foreign funds, which Kane said could help cover corporate expenses. McCormick & Company, a spice, herbs and flavoring manufacturer, repatriated $70 million in 2012, according to the company’s most recent SEC filings. Even still, most of the company’s cash is held in foreign subsidiaries, the filings said.

A spokesperson for McCormick and Co. could not be reached for comment.

Some of the largest U.S. corporations make about half of their money internationally, Delaney said. The bill is just a way to get some of it back.

“It creates a way for some of that money to come back, which is good for our economy,” Delaney said. “And it creates this large-scale infrastructure fund, which is good for our country.”

Instead of government funding, the American Infrastructure Fund would raise cash through a $50 billion bond offering. Companies would buy the bonds at a 1 percent fixed interest rate and a 50-year term, in exchange for a chance to repatriate a certain portion of overseas earnings tax-free for every dollar spent on bonds.

A bond to repatriation ratio would be determined by an auction and could result in companies paying an effective 12 percent tax rate, Delaney said. Money raised in the bond sale could then be leveraged and loaned to state and local governments for projects.

The auction process will benefit both the infrastructure fund and the corporations, which will be able to find a price that is right for them, Delaney said.

“We’ve talked to them and they’re very supportive of it,” he said.

The American Business Conference, Associated Equipment Distributors and Terex Corporation are among those supporting the bill.

Tech giants and pharmaceutical corporations have lobbied for a repatriation holiday since the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act allowed them to repatriate at a discounted rate. Because of the intellectually-based capital that these companies thrive on, it is sometimes easier for them to keep assets overseas.

For example, Apple has $124.4 billion held overseas, according to the company’s most recent SEC filing.

The 2004 bill reduced repatriation taxes to 5.25 percent if corporations promised to invest the money at home. The one-year holiday is widely regarded as a failure because it spurred an increase in repatriation, but not an increase in jobs or investments, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

“The argument was that it would be a stimulus” to the U.S. economy, Gravelle said. “Most people who studied this found out it was being used to repurchase shares.”

Share repurchases are a common way to boost stock prices.

Corporations used the money to pay stockholders dividends and pay off debts, which doesn’t make for a good stimulus, she continued.  Instead, the holiday created a “moral hazard” and companies have parked money overseas, waiting for the next holiday, Gravelle said.

Delaney’s bill has short-term benefits but doesn’t address the larger problems with the tax code, Faulkender said. Corporations will want to move more and more operations overseas if they can find discounts on U.S. taxes, he added.

“If you signal that firms are going to realize a lower tax rate, even after repatriation, on their foreign operations than on their domestic operations, you’re going to incentivize even more offshoring,” he said.

“I don’t think that’s good for the U.S. economy.”

By 
Capital News Service

Rural Maryland Council Welcomes New Board Members

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Nine regional leaders were recently elected to the board of directors of the Rural Maryland Council (RMC). RMC is an independent state agency that brings together rural leaders, government officials at all levels, and the representatives of the non-profit and for-profit sectors to develop public policy solutions to the challenges unique to rural Maryland.

Elected to a one year term ending in 2014 are:
*Loretta Lodge, executive director of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, representing District 4 – Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties.
*Stephen Wright, Ph.D., associate dean/associate director of University of Maryland Extension.
*John Hartline, executive director of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland.
*Craig Hartsock, council president of the Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc.

Elected to a two-year term ending in 2015 are:
*David Smith, town manager for the Town of Hancock, representing Maryland Municipal League.
*Perry Stutman, Queenstown town commissioner, representing Maryland Municipal League.
*Santo Grande, chief executive officer of Delmarva Community Services, representing Maryland Association of Community Action Agencies.
*Al Silverstein, president and chief executive officer of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce.
*William McGowan, Ed.D., USDA Rural Development state director for Delaware and Maryland.

“Having a diverse board helps us respond to the many and varied needs of our constituents,” says Charlotte Davis, executive director of the Rural Maryland Council. “I look forward to working with our new board members in the coming years as we tackle the challenges our rural communities face,” she adds.

Founded in 1994, the RMC operates under the direction of a 40-member executive board in a nonpartisan and nondiscriminatory manner. It serves as the voice of rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communities and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity to its suburban and urban counterparts.

To learn more about the Rural Maryland Council call (410) 841-5774 or email rmc.mda@maryland.gov.

Habitat Choptank ReStore Hosts Spring Open House March 29

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Students from Sts. Peter & Paul School recently visited the Habitat ReStore in Easton.  From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, the day of the ReStore’s Spring Open House, the truck will be at the school to accept donations.

Students from Sts. Peter & Paul School recently visited the Habitat ReStore in Easton. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, the day of the ReStore’s Spring Open House, the truck will be at the school to accept donations.

The mantra of Habitat for Humanity Choptank’s ReStore is “Donate Shop Volunteer.” From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 29, you’ll have a chance to do all three.

As it approaches a major milestone, the ReStore will host its annual Spring Open House. Shoppers, donors and volunteers will enjoy refreshments, “grab bag coupon” discounts, and a wide variety of brand new and gently used merchandise.

At 10:30 a.m., store volunteers and staff will announce the total proceeds that have been generated to date to support Habitat’s affordable home ownership program. Their announcement will be of particular interest, since the ReStore is closing in on $1 million in sales since it opened in November of 2010. And every year it nets more money to fund Habitat Choptank’s mission.

“We are definitely ‘on the map,” says Lee Weldon, who has managed the ReStore since day one. “We’ve really benefited from being in such a great and giving community.” Donors find it gratifying to know that ReStore will find new homes for their gently used furniture, appliances and building supplies, while saving its customers money. They also like knowing that everything donated to the ReStore and resold is diverted from the landfill.
The familiar ReStore truck collects goods from individuals, retailers and builders all over the Mid-Shore. Donors bring hundreds more items right to the store every month as well. Drive-up donors are greeted by helpful volunteers who help unload, and prepare receipts for tax purposes.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 29th, the truck will be parked at Sts. Peter and Paul School to serve as a donation center, where students and their parents can contribute items to the ReStore. All donated items will be taken to the ReStore and offered for sale.

“We work with a lot of commercial donors, such as Easton Hardware, Lowe’s, West & Callahan, Ilex Construction and Willow Construction in Easton, Best Western Motor Inn and Higgins and Spencer Furniture in St. Michaels, Best Buy Supply and Weinstein Supply in Cambridge, Friel Lumber in Queenstown, and Rommel’s Ace Hardware and Lundberg Builders on Kent Island, among others,” Weldon says. “Still, our best source of donations is always the general public. Almost all our furniture comes from individuals.”

“On our biggest day since we opened, sales totaled $7,140,” says Weldon. “My goal at this year’s Open House is to eclipse that number.” To hit that goal, to ensure the best selection for Spring Open House shoppers, and to reach the million-dollar mark, he says, the ReStore needs merchandise to sell: furniture in good condition; late-model appliances in working order; hand and power tools; and, now that spring is near, lawn and garden furniture and implements.

Even a broken appliance can be recycled for its scrap metal value. But the ReStore is unable to accept certain items: opened paint cans; upholstered furniture that is torn, stained or faded; clothing; hazardous materials; bedding (mattresses, box springs, linens, etc.); convertible sofas; tube televisions; furniture made of particle board; musical instruments, especially pianos; shower doors; used mini-blinds; and things that are obviously broken or not working.

If you’re looking to shop, the ReStore can sell you everything from a doorknob to a kitchenful of appliances. Items you’re most likely to find there include:

Furniture, from the very utilitarian to “stuff that the antique dealers come in and fight over,” in Weldon’s words. “We try to keep the quality of the furniture pretty high.”

Appliances. “We get some very nice stuff from this community,” says Weldon. For example, when they rehabbed their house in Queen Anne, Mark and Debra Silberstein purchased all their kitchen and laundry appliances and fixtures, from the sink to the side-by-side refrigerator-freezer to the washer and dryer, from ReStore. They spent $800. The same appliances would have cost them 10 times as much at retail. “We’re there every week,” says Debra.

Doors, which sell like the proverbial hotcakes. That’s easy to understand: Most go for as little as $10.

Windows, flooring, plumbing fixtures, power and hand tools, shelving, general hardware, and some siding.

The ReStore has also become a great place to volunteer. While the store’s only paid employees are Weldon and part-time Assistant Manager Chris Walls, more than 40 regular volunteers keep it running, and they have logged almost 30,000 hours of service since the store opened. The number of volunteer hours worked has gone up every year. However, Weldon is quick to note that more volunteers are always needed.

“It’s the people in the store that make it work,” he says. “Without the dedicated volunteers, none of the rest of it could happen.” And the more volunteers, the better: “It makes everybody’s job easier if we have lots of help.”

Construction experience is helpful, but not necessary, as is a general knowledge of hardware and building materials. Volunteers are only expected to put in four hours a week. And if they have physical limitations, Weldon works around them. “We take all comers,” he says, “and try to keep them busy.” If you’d like to volunteer, he’d like to speak with you on the 29th.

The net proceeds from the ReStore are invested into Habitat Choptank’s self-help home ownership program. Since its founding in 1992, the nonprofit home builder has made home ownership possible for 62 families, and currently partners with seven local families. Qualifying families are offered a “hand up” out of poverty housing.

“On our biggest day since we opened, sales totaled $7,140,” says Weldon. “That was at our 2012 Spring Open House. My goal at this year’s Open House is to eclipse that number.”

Habitat Choptank’s ReStore is located at 8648 Commerce Drive in Easton, just off the bypass near Target. For more information, or to shop, donate or volunteer, call 410-820-6186. Information about Habitat Choptank’s ReStore, its affordable home ownership program, and other volunteer opportunities can be found at www.HabitatChoptank.org. The ReStore is open Wednesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Star-Democrat and Kent County News Sold

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Adams Publishing Group has announced it has sold three newspaper divisions from American Consolidated Media, including the Chesapeake Publishing Group, which publishes the Star Democrat, Bay Times, Times-Record, Record Observer, Kent County News, Dorchester Star and Eastern Shore Bargaineer on the Mid-Shore.

Adams Publishing Group also bought the Superior and Ohio publishing groups from ACM. The purchase includes a total of 34 print publications, special print products, digital media assets and commercial printing facilities.

More Details as they come in

ESLC Prepares to Break Ground on Conservation Center

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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is preparing to begin construction on the Eastern Shore Conservation Center.

Construction is scheduled to begin by late spring 2014 on the former McCord and Brick Row buildings on South Washington Street. The site will serve as headquarters for ESLC, as well as offices for other environmental, agricultural, and community-centered nonprofits.

During the first phase of construction, ESLC is working with the Land Restoration Program of the Maryland Department of the Environment to remove a few pockets of chlorine- and petroleum-based chemicals. The clean-up could increase the cost of the project.

The finding was unexpected because the Department issued a notice of compliance in 2001 stating that an extensive 15-year cleanup process had been completed. Before taking ownership, ESLC had completed a Phase I environmental study that indicated the site was not likely to require further cleanup.

Because of the increased costs and the organization’s faith in and commitment to the project, the ESLC Board of Directors voted to increase the project budget to $7.6 million to accommodate clean-up without sacrificing the vision of a nonprofit center for collaborative work.

Fundraising continues for the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. ESLC recently signed a grant agreement to receive $500,000 through the Neighborhood Business Works program. Operated by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the program supports revitalization projects that invest in commercial districts and town centers.

Additionally, ESLC seeks a café tenant for the center in Easton.

“We are excited to have reached this point,” said Executive Director Rob Etgen. “After a lot of work, we are ready to find the key tenant who will bring additional energy to the project. The café will serve as the front door of our project, its public face.”

The portion of the former McCord Laundry building that once served as the commercial counter will become a small café, with additional outdoor seating in the courtyard behind Brick Row. The café serve the employees inside while drawing in members of the broader community. Its location on Washington Street provides high visibility.

Since 1990, ESLC has helped to preserve more than 55,000 acres on 294 properties from Cecil County to Dorchester County. Town project work helps towns increase the recreational and economic vibrancy in Mid-Shore towns. The Eastern Shore Conservation Center will transform abandoned historic buildings into a thriving hub of activity on Washington Street, and serve as a gold standard for high-quality economic development across the Eastern Shore.

Loblolly Recognized as Force Behind Growing “Chesapeake Wine Country”

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Loblolly Productions was awarded the Veraison Award at the February 8, 2014 Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA) Annual Conference. The Veraison Award is presented annually to an industry supporter who helps further the viticulture industry in the State of Maryland. The MGGA board felt that Loblolly’s on-going efforts through their initiative – shorevines.com – dedicated to promoting and marketing vineyards and wineries was beneficial to not only the Eastern Shore of Maryland but also to the industry as a whole.

Carolyn Baldwin President Maryland Grape Grower's Association (left), Lotte Bowie Partner Loblolly Productions (right).

Carolyn Baldwin President Maryland Grape Grower’s Association (left), Lotte Bowie Partner Loblolly Productions (right).

Accepting the award, Lotte made note that the on-going sponsorship of the Upper Shore Regional Council of Maryland has been critical to the success of shorevines as an information resource spurring the growth of more vineyards and wineries on the shore. Lotte went on to comment that the Chesapeake Wine Trail numbers 11 wineries with at least 6 more on the near horizon.

“Our next goal is to make sure that the story of the Chesapeake’s winemakers is clearly heard, not only to the tourists who flock to the region, or even the Western critics who have increasingly come to appreciate Eastern Shore wine, but also to our local populace. To illustrate the potential of our Chesapeake Wine Country and have our eastern shore community members drink its fruits would be a satisfying accomplishment,” concluded Lotte in her acceptance speech.

Photo by Emily Johnston

With Opening Of Squoze, Cambridge Joins Juicing Trend

From left, Jamie Summers, Chef Patrick Fanning, and Jennifer Fanning show off a Squoze t-shirt.
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Five flavors of juices and smoothies at Squoze, from top left, Strawberry Almond Blast smoothie, Sweet Greens juice, Orange You Glad juice, Hulk Smash smoothie, and Chocolate, Banana and Peanuts smoothie.

The executive chef at High Spot Gastropub and Stoked has opened the area’s first dedicated juice and smoothie bar. Squoze, which features made-to-order juices and smoothies, a healthy café, and specialty groceries, opened its doors in downtown Cambridge this month.

“We saw a need for a healthier option in the area,” said Chef Patrick Fanning, who’s overseeing the menu at Squoze. “The juices and smoothies are a quick and healthy pick-me-up that taste good and are jammed with nutrition.”

While it’s been growing as a national trend, juicing is still a new concept on the Mid-Shore. “It’s a fun way to eat more vegetables and fruits, and to try vegetables you might not be familiar with, like beets and kale,” Fanning said.

Squoze’s menus offers a dozen juices and a dozen smoothies. Customers can also create their own custom blend of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients. The healthy drinks are made with a mix of vegetables such as kale, beets, and carrots and fruits such as pomegranate, mango, and pineapple, as well as herbs and other flavorings.

Fanning estimates that Squoze’s popular “Sweet Greens” juice, made with apple, spinach, kale, cucumber, parsley, and lemon offers three servings of vegetables. “The juice is really light, refreshing, and tasty,” Fanning said. “New customers are amazed at just how good it tastes.”

Squoze also offers fresh salads, wraps, soups, and healthy snacks, plus specialty grocery items such as blue cornmeal, farro, bamboo rice, and amaranth. “We wanted to offer a source in Dorchester County for vegetarians and those who are gluten-intolerant,” Fanning said.

From left, Jamie Summers, Chef Patrick Fanning, and Jennifer Fanning show off a Squoze t-shirt.

From left, Jamie Summers, Chef Patrick Fanning, and Jennifer Fanning show off a Squoze t-shirt.

“If you only have 20 minutes for lunch, there aren’t many healthy options around here. So everything here is grab-and-go—but it’s still good for you. So many times we sacrifice health because we’re short on time,” he added.

Squoze is located at 315 Gay Street in downtown Cambridge, and is open Monday through Saturday. Find out more on the Facebook page at facebook.com/squozeahealthycarryout.

 

Maryland 3.0 Asks Five Questions to Talbot Chamber CEO Al Silverstein

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How has the recession affected Talbot businesses and do you have stats on how many have closed their doors?

Unfortunately a small number of businesses have had to close their doors due to the economy.  However the chamber has seen an increasing number of new businesses starts, which outweighs the number of business closures.

Talbot County economy is very dependent on real estate, tourism, construction, medical  services and government.  The sale of real estate in Talbot County is driven by discretionary purchases of secondary homes and due to the economy and new government regulations that segment of the market has been negatively impacted.  On the positive side Talbot County real estate sales in 2012 were up 30% over 2011 and 2013 sales were up nominally over 2012.

Since the beginning of the recession the construction market has seen a severe downturn.  We have seen an implementation of new building codes, state regulations and increasing anti-growth sentiment from local governments.  The net result of all of these factors is the loss of businesses, which in turn leads to less opportunities hiring in the construction trades.

Tourism Industry revenues took a dip in 2009, yet have seen steady growth the past four years.  A growing segment of Talbot County tourism is from it becoming a wedding destination.

What do you envision for this year and beyond?  Are there new businesses just opening or getting ready to open in Talbot Co.? What do you see as a critical requirement to strengthen the local economy (such as public transportation, lower taxes and other business incentives)?

I envision that 2014 will see modest business growth in Talbot County.  We will continue to see some segments of our economy do better than others based upon consumer confidence.   We continue to get inquiries from individuals interested in starting or relocating a business to Talbot County and anticipate that we will also experience some business closures.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 1.34.03 PMTalbot County’s property and income tax rates have been among the lowest in the State of Maryland.  The Talbot Chamber is pleased to see that the Town of Easton is giving serious consideration to lowering the impact fees.

Talbot County is a very desirable location to live, work and play.  We have a thriving arts and entertainment community that features award-winning restaurants, museums and a host of special events.  We are home to the Waterfowl Festival, Academy Art Museum, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Plein Air, Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Show.  One unique attraction in our county is the Oxford- Bellevue Ferry.

The chamber’s Government & Regulatory Committee has been working with the Talbot County Office of Economic Development and the newly formed Easton Economic Development Corporation (located at the chamber office) to…. formulate strategies with local government agencies to redesign and fine tune the development process.

Public transportation in rural areas is a critical component to get people to work, get medical services and meet shopping needs. The Talbot Chamber has been a very supportive partner in the creation of the MUST Bus System.  Unfortunately funding for rural transportation continues to shrink and costs of operations continue to rise.

You have worked with historic preservation groups in the area; do you see the historic aspects of Talbot County as beneficial to the business community and the local economy in general?

Talbot County’s rich history attracts many tourist to our community.  Our waterman’s heritage, Frederick Douglas ties to our county, and the many historically designated buildings are very appealing to history buffs.

What has the Chamber been doing to help local businesses…. any new approaches or techniques? Is the multimedia center, the internet or any other high tech marketing strategy being utilized?

We have a new Chamber website, free counseling by SCORE members, weekly e-newsletters promoting networking events, seminars and free Lunch & Learns with special emphasis on how to use social media as a marketing tool.  The Chamber has partnered with other Talbot County organizations to lobby for modification or opposition to proposed legislation that is onerous to business, both on a local, state and national level. The Chamber has an active Member-to-Member Discount program; we offer our members three conference rooms to use for meeting clients, staff or Board of Director meetings or to facilitate strategic planning meetings.

A large part of my efforts on behalf of our membership is to be an advocate for the Free Enterprise System.  This Legislative session is my fourteenth year as a member of the Maryland State Chamber Legislative Committee, reviewing and taking positions on approximately 200 bills that will affect (state and local) businesses each session.

What business person in the nation (or world) do you most admire, and What is your most recently read favorite book?

I’m a strong advocate of the Free Enterprise system.  I have been an admirer of Warren Buffet since I had the opportunity to hear him in person when I worked in Nebraska.

My latest book is Johnny Carson (bio) by Henry Bushkin.

Alan Silverstein has served 31 years as a Chamber of Commerce executive, and has served as president and CEO of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce since 2001.