Members’ Corner: Jamie Williams
Ms. Jamie Williams, Economic Development Coordinator, Kent County
Explain your background in economic development
I am relatively new to economic development. I unofficially fielded economic development calls from the Commissioners’ Office from July 2014 through July 2015 and was officially appointed in July 2015. My previous work history includes 20 years with a millwork distributor. I started as an assistant to the executive secretary, filled many positions through the years and eventually landed as the customer service manager. I managed a small office for five years and spent four years working in the County Commissioners office. I was very fortunate to have had three incredible mentors who instilled the values of work ethic, education, and personal development. I still remember the phrase “Behave like you’re in business for yourself” from The Employee Handbook of New Work Habits For A Radically Changing World. After internalizing the phrase, that is how I view opportunities and evaluate them.
What are your key priorities within your current position?
Business Retention and Expansion
Quality of Life
Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.
Currently broadband access is a top priority for retention, expansion and attraction in all rural areas. The County Commissioners of Kent County have taken a unique approach and viewed broadband access as a utility rather than a luxury. The Commissioners provided an incentive to design and construct a fiber-optic broadband network in Kent County, including 54 public sites as anchor institutions. The groundbreaking took place on June 13, 2016 at 11 a.m. It is exciting to know that businesses and citizens will no longer be hindered by the lack of access to this essential service.
What professional pressures keep you up at night?
A workforce to meet the demands of our current and future business needs. The right mix of workforce development and training to meet the ever-changing skills businesses need to remain competitive in their respective market.
What attributes are unique to your community?
The beauty of our County and the surrounding region. The rural location is within 90 minutes of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington, and Washington D.C. It truly is the best of both worlds.
Kent County’s major economic drivers are diverse, they include manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, education, and tourism.
What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
1) The Fiber-Optic Broadband network scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.
2) The availability of sites, developed and undeveloped.
3) The strength of our community and our people; the businesses, the non-profits, the organizations, and the volunteers.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?
Customer service and communication to enhance collaboration. Educating everyone on the value of working together. Educating everyone on the value of customer service, understanding that everyone is our customer, there are internal customers and external customers. Customer service is not a department it is an attitude. Communication must be open and honest to achieve the best possible results. I believe that Maryland has a unique opportunity to use collaboration and customer service as a competitive advantage.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?
The Economic Development community has been open and supportive. I thank everyone who has spent time with me, helping me understand the public side of economic development. Economic Development truly is a team sport and we need all the players on the field and going in the same direction.