Blog: Supporting Businesses Supports our Communities

Supporting Businesses Supports our Communities

As you drive through downtown, maybe you are beginning to notice more pumpkin-flavored drinks at your local coffee shop, or how boutiques are embracing ‘sweater weather’ merchandise in their storefront windows. During this season, Marylanders are coming together to take part in autumn festivities. Their participation and enjoyment is a testament to the hard work of local businesses and economic developers who all build our economy. Supporting communities and businesses is at the core of economic development. This October 24-28, 2022, Economic Development Week in Maryland gives us a chance to pause, appreciate, and recognize the many ways economic development impacts local communities in Maryland.

Economic development is a story of interdependence; the work of each individual and business affects the whole. Executive Director at Somerset County Economic Development Commission and current MEDA President, Danny Thompson, elaborated, “It’s like stepping stones. When businesses come to Maryland, they benefit from the work others have done, and they contribute to the success of the whole. They build on the success of our workforce and contribute to a thriving region.”

Managing Director of Policy, Research & Government Affairs at the Maryland Department of Commerce, 2022 MEDA Rising Star Award winner, MEDA Public Policy Awareness committee member, and MEDA Young Leaders committee member Jennifer LaHatte commented on the importance of progress in our communities. “When we’re talking about our economic development programs, we’re talking about the impact of creating opportunities for people to have a well-paying job, and how that helps the rest of our community grow. What we do has a huge impact on the entire state.”

In the State of Maryland, small businesses are integral to communities. For economic developers, supporting these businesses contributes to local economies, and also strengthens investment in community well-being.

Rosa Cruz, CEcD, Vice President of Communications of Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC), and MEDA Professional Development committee member, said, “When I drive around town, I notice those ‘coming soon’ signs on storefronts or construction sites. It’s exciting, as a person who lives in the neighborhood, to see through development how economic developers are anticipating what the community needs in the form of businesses, as well as figuring out what resources and assistance should be provided that will benefit our whole community.”

Moreover, economic development success cannot be defined without recognizing the importance of community success. Director of Economic Development at Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation and MEDA Program Development committee co-chair Jerry T. Stanford added to this sentiment. “Economic opportunity allows folks to advance their careers, buy a house, send their kids to school, and just live a better quality of life.” The livelihood of local communities results from ensuring that decision-makers are interested in the areas where residents live, work, and play.

Senior Vice President of Business Finance Programs and Prince George’s County EDI Fund Manager at FSC First, MEDA Awards committee co-chair, and MEDA board member Dawn Medley further discussed economic development programs and how they contribute to the welfare of communities. “I’ve had the opportunity firsthand to see how our work in economic development has transformed communities, revitalized neighborhoods, brought very much needed healthcare, and restored Main Street communities.”

As economic developers, the projects chosen are intended to help promote the community, not just in the present, but in the long game as well. By investing in an area, communities are provided the funding necessary to support community pillars such as education, libraries, public safety, and recreation.

Director at Charles County Economic Development Department and MEDA Program Development committee co-chair Kelly Robertson-Slagle, said,  “Whether it is delivering a grant to an up-and-coming business or mentoring the next generation of economic developers, we’re able to transform lives by ensuring that our local communities have the support and resources to thrive.”

Economic development directly impacts quality of life, investment, and community prosperity. By creating and implementing programs that enhance job opportunities and economic growth, social and community well-being in the State of Maryland continue to evolve.

Director of Economic Development at Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, MEDA past president, current MEDA board member, and Public Policy Awareness committee member Laurie Boyer Babb, CEcD, further explained, “We’re working with these businesses to provide employment opportunities for the people in our community, for the people we run into, in the grocery store, at church, or in nonprofits that we volunteer with. And those people have a job at that new business because we were doing our daily work of trying to bring these opportunities into the community. Because of that, they now can afford to send their kid to college or pay for extra dance classes, or whatever it happens to be.”

Economic Development Week in Maryland is a chance to recognize and celebrate how economic development grows opportunities and strengthens the quality of life in our communities. Join MEDA in bringing awareness to the work of economic development in our state, and participate in the events, proclamations, press releases, and social media campaigns during this special week!

How to Celebrate Economic Development Week in Maryland

Please check out our ToolkitProclamation Template, and Press Release Template (click these links) to plan for your participation in Economic Development Week in Maryland. Whether elaborate or small, there is something for every level of participation.

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