Blog: Women in Economic Development
Women in Economic Development
Economic Development Week in Maryland (October 24-28, 2022) celebrates the important work that benefits our economy in the State of Maryland. The economic development industry continually strives to improve the state’s business climate, job retention and growth, tax base, and the overall quality of life. At the helm of this work are the dedicated economic developers in our community. Once a historically male-dominated industry, the world of economic development has become increasingly inclusive, with women now representing 45% of the economic development workforce. MEDA highlights the perspectives and experiences of our economic development community’s accomplished women leaders.
Director at Charles County Economic Development Department and MEDA Program Development committee co-chair Kelly Robertson-Slagle, commented, “As a young woman coming into a field that men very much dominated, I had to prove myself early on and show that I could do this job as well as they do. I made a name for myself.”
Assistant Secretary for the Business & Industry Sector Development at the Maryland Department of Commerce, past MEDA president, and current MEDA board member, Heather Gramm, CEcD, emphasized the importance of finding mentors and role models within this field: “I was fortunate to have a strong support system from the beginning. The field of economic development in Frederick County had many amazing women in leadership positions that served as role models for me. Female mentorship gave me the confidence to see myself in successful leadership roles.”
Understanding the challenges that women face in the business community acts as an incentive for some economic developers to seek out and support diverse voices. 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 aims to uplift female entrepreneurs by supporting underrepresented business ventures. “Throughout my career, I’ve always made a special effort to reach out to women-owned businesses and encourage them to take that first step to acquire additional funds that will open them up to new business advantages and benefits.”
Whether it is delivering a grant to an up-and-coming business or mentoring the next generation of economic developers, women in economic development continue to provide communities and businesses across the State of Maryland with initiatives that boost representation and the economy. This week, celebrate the efforts of our diverse community of economic developers by participating in events hosted by local businesses and counties.
How to Celebrate Economic Development Week in Maryland
Please check out our Toolkit, Proclamation 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.