Economic Development Department Director Darréll Brown has said many times that those communities that collaborate are the communities that succeed and advance. The value of collaboration has been especially important during the last year as our economy and our resolve have been tested by an unprecedented pandemic. What has become even more clear is that we must go beyond collaboration and engage one another with civility and understanding to get the greatest benefit from teamwork and partnership.
We all have an important role to play in economic recovery.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began in March 2020, the Charles County Economic Development Department has redirected an increased percentage of resources and human capital to projects that support our businesses and ensure the best chance for an economic recovery and growth in Charles County.
One of the first things we did in March was to create a Recovery Task Force, which is a subcommittee of our Economic Development Advisory Board. The Task Force included members from the public and private sectors—government officials, education, nonprofit partners, and business people from a variety of industry sectors.
Finding Solutions, Getting Results
The Task Force started meeting weekly – later biweekly -- to identify business needs and short- and long-term solutions. Discussions led to a number of immediate results as businesses shared their challenges, frustrations, ideas, and proposed solutions, and those in a position to do something took immediate action to implement recommendations.
All the following and more resulted from the collaboration of our Task Force members:
- The County’s Department of Planning and Growth Management (PGM) eased restrictions on temporary signs.
- The EDD created a list of resources and contacts.
- Task Force members advocated for the nonprofit business sector.
- The Health Department established a PPE access program for businesses.
The Task Force’s work has been collaborative, and it has been a learning experience. The members of the Task Force demonstrated their respect for each other and expressed empathy and understanding with compassion and a shared desire to ensure the best possible outcome for our businesses, the economy, and Charles County community.
The Task Force has wrapped up their work, and a final report will be delivered soon by the group’s chair, Senior Judge Helen Harrington. We look forward to further solutions for getting our economy back on track. And we hope to maintain the momentum, enthusiasm, and collaborative spirit demonstrated by the Task Force.
While we’ve learned many lessons, among them are that we must:
- Try harder to be civil with one another.
- Try to envision ourselves in the experiences of others,
- Recognize and appreciate the strivings of all people.
- Trust in each other.
These lessons will motivate us as a department as we collaborate and move forward in 2021.