Members’ Corner: Bob Zimberoff

Name, Title, Organization

Bob Zimberoff, Director, Caroline County Economic Development & Tourism

Explain your background in economic development:

I am new to economic development and my role as director as of January 2024, but I have plenty of relevant experience. Here comes a mouth full: I worked for the Maryland Department of Labor, Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning, Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program, as the Eastern Shore Navigator from 2020-2024. I also worked for the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board for a few months before taking this job. I was a legislative director for State Delegate Johnny Mautz (now Senator) for two legislative sessions, and I have a deep background in newspaper journalism.

What are your key priorities within your current position?

I am tasked with growing Caroline County’s economy while maintaining its rural character. I am shifting my office’s focus toward workforce development while supporting agriculture, farmers, ag innovators and entrepreneurs, manufacturers, small businesses and our rural downtowns.

Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.

Exploring career pathways for our youth to earn sustainable wages in lieu of earning a college degree, such as apprenticeship and workforce training that starts in high school and continues after high school graduation.

What professional pressures keep you up at night?

I am a public servant, and as such, I have a will to work with everyone and anyone without picking favorites. If anyone wants my time, all they have to do is ask. I try very hard to treat everyone the same while navigating the back and forth, and give and take, that comes with conflicting interests and conflicting personalities. In other words, and I say this a lot, “I don’t get to pick who I’m working with.”

What attributes are unique to your community?

As of 2022, Caroline County had 33,400 residents. We are a small rural county where everybody knows everybody. Overall, this is a good thing, and there are many good people in Caroline who are always looking to help each other, but there is also a gossip circuit that comes with such a tightly knit community.

What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?

  • We’re at or near the middle of the Mid-Atlantic with access to less congested roads; we have a manufacturing and shipping presence with room to grow.
  • Agricultural innovation is happening right here, right now. Anyone looking to get a start in agriculture or change their agricultural model can tap into a robust network of agricultural experts who are ready and here to help.
  • Though we are small and rural, we are within hours of metropolitan areas: D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Hampton Roads and Richmond are all 1-1/2 to 5 hours away.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?

Sustainable wages without a college degree through workforce training

Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?

I’d like to earn my CEcD, take advantage of MEDA’s mentorship program and become more involved.

Please include any personal background information that you’d like to share (Alma mater, Military Service, hobbies, etc):

I’m a big history nerd, and developed a passion for history when I was 4 years old. I like exploring new places. My idea of a good time is getting in a car with a planned destination or two then getting lost on purpose. I drag my family up and down the Mid-Atlantic on little adventures all the time while rubber necking for historic markers and historic sites.

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