Charles County is open for business! That was the message sent loud and clear at the Economic Development Department’s (EDD’s) Quarterly Business Roundtable on January 24. We were thrilled to have 82 attendees representing local businesses and partners, especially on what turned out to be a very rainy morning.
Two newly elected commissioners, Thomasina O. Coates and Gilbert “BJ” Bowling III, came and shared their thoughts. Commissioner Coates said, “We are open for business. We need you all to help with this endeavor. We have resources available and encourage you to use those resources.” She mentioned Charles County’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program as a great asset for economic development.
Commissioner Bowling said, “We’re taking the steps to improve the business climate for Charles County and setting a tone that we’re open for business. We’re doing everything possible to make it a smooth process.”
Speaking on the brewing industry, EDD Director Darréll Brown said, “We’ve been working to put together the regulatory framework for the brewing industry this past year. The worst thing you can do with anything is overregulate, but we’ve regulated in a way that the industry sees it as being fair.”
Lucretia Freeman-Buster, Chief of Business Development, talked about business services. She said, “The EDD wants to be the first point of contact for local businesses, help them navigate the system, and if they’re new businesses, establish themselves in the right way.”
The Business Development team manages the county’s Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) programs. Registering in either or both of these programs is a great way to help businesses grow and get procurement opportunities with the county. Lucinia Mundy, Business Development Specialist, oversees those programs and can answer any questions.
Two business loans managed by the EDD, the Business Development Loan Fund and Targeted Industry Loan, connect businesses with essential capital. The department’s Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) visitation program supports our local businesses, and the BRE team has visited 48 businesses to date, with a goal of 120. “Our BRE program is dear to my heart,” said Freeman-Buster. The goal of the program is to improve the EDD’s services to help businesses expand and grow in Charles County.
Taylor Yewell, Redevelopment Manager, gave an update on redevelopment projects, including Opportunity Zones (a federal incentive program) and the Maryland Airport. A rezoning process is underway for the airport. 600 acres are subjected to rezoning for commercial use, which will support the airport’s functionality. The Waldorf Urban Revitalization Corridor (WURC) project is to the point where it can move forward. Yewell said, “We feel like we’ve turned a corner on this and really expect things to start to happen.”
Yewell referred to the town of Benedict, specifically the Benedict Marina, as a “hidden gem” in the county. It is a riverfront village with good access to the Patuxent River. He said, “It’s not just the big splash projects we’re working on, but some of these small projects that are key to small town revitalization.”
Deputy Director, Marcia Keeth, discussed how the department is “Telling the Story” of Charles County through multiple marketing efforts. To keep up on the latest economic development news, businesses can sign up for our monthly E-News and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The EDD has recently added podcasts, and the first one will be published soon.
“Our website is a very important part of our marketing outreach,” said Keeth. “Nowadays, most businesses looking for locations are looking online. With technology, we’re getting better about knowing about those who are searching on our site. We must have a website that entices them to work with us.”
The EDD’s website won an award when it first launched in 2015, and now the EDD has revamped content on the website to make it more exciting and interesting, as well as adding more information that businesses want. The site includes a property search feature, and a Permitting page will be added soon. The department has also hired a new Marketing Consultant who is very active in Maryland and will help enhance and grow the current program.
Attendees were encouraged to attend the following events in 2019. Sign up for our monthly E-News and follow us on social media to see regular reminders.
Ninth Annual Nonprofit Institute Conference
Thursday, February 21 at CSM La Plata
INTERNATIONAL TRADE SEMINAR
New African Marketplace: What It Means for U.S. Companies
Thursday, March 14 at Hilton Garden Inn Waldorf
Southern Maryland Innovates – Innovation Outreach Discovery Events
Wednesday, March 27 at CSM La Plata
Quarterly Business Roundtables
Wednesday, April 17 at Waldorf West Library
Thursday, July 18 at Waldorf West Library
EDD Annual Fall Meeting
Tuesday, November 5 at Waldorf Jaycees Community Center