The Charles County Economic Development Department (EDD) hosted our Quarterly Business Roundtable on July 22 as a hybrid meeting, which was a first-time experience for us, and probably for most of our attendees. It required a lot of pre-planning, testing, and learning a new way of hosting meetings, but we hope it was a valuable experience for attendees, both in person and online. We used meeting space at the Velocity Center in the Town of Indian Head, which is furnished with state-of-the-art technology that made the process seamless. Their AV person, Michelle Pruitt, was very knowledgeable and friendly and helped us set up the equipment and room the day before. Registrants had the option of joining online through GoToWebinar.
After an introduction and welcome from our EDD Acting Director and Deputy County Administrator Deborah Hall, Commissioner President Reuben Collins provided opening remarks and acknowledged the setting as “an example of what can happen when a community works together.” He added, “The Velocity Center is a very unique project where we saw state, local, and federal support making something happen.” He also assured us that, even while the county is looking for a new Economic Development Director, economic development remains a priority for the commissioners.
Taylor Yewell, EDD Chief of Development, updated Major Projects in the county, starting with the Velocity Center. “The Velocity Center was really a team effort. Truly a public-private partnership, it has delivered on its promise as a catalyst for the Town of Indian Head.”
He also mentioned Waldorf Station, a significant redevelopment project set to start in 2022, and the US Bomb Technician Association’s presence in Indian Head, which is drawing the attention of other contractors to Indian Head, including four sub-tenants that will occupy the space in their building across from the Velocity Center. Yewell also reported on the Maryland Airport and Morgantown Power Plant.
Chief of Business Development, Lucretia Freeman-Buster, spoke on the EDD’s outreach to businesses during COVID-19 and disbursement of almost $6 million in grants. Upcoming trainings are planned to help businesses with some of the issues identified through calls and questions asked by businesses.
Agriculture Business Development Manager, Martin Proulx, gave a brief presentation on the recently released Agriculture Economic Development Assessment, which looks at how agriculture in the county has shifted. Charles County farms are getting smaller. Buying local is becoming more and more important, and attendees were encouraged to participate in the Buy Local Challenge happening that week.
EDD Deputy Director, Marcia Keeth, summarized the work of the EDD’s COVID Recovery Task Force, a subcommittee of the Economic Development Advisory Board, chaired by realtor Anne Hooper. Next step is the launch of the Business Outreach Committee to continue the Task Force work and implement recommendations. Committee chair, attorney Steve Scott, explained how the committee will concentrate on the EDD’s 2020 Pivot Plan and COVID-19 Task Force Report and identify steps to improve communications and information flow.
The EDD plans to hold its Fall Meeting on November 2 in the same fashion—as a hybrid meeting, in person at the Velocity Center and a virtual option through GoToWebinar. Save the date and look for details to come soon. Click here to watch the recording of the July 22 Roundtable.