Members’ Corner: Meredith Mears
Meredith (Merry) Mears
Director, Worcester County Economic Development
Explain Your Background in Economic Development
For 15 years, I have worked alongside our local Senators, Delegates and County Commissioners & Councils on the Lower Eastern Shore promoting workforce and economic development initiatives. For the last 3.5 years, I have served as the Deputy Director, and most recently, as of October 2015, the Director of Worcester County Economic Development. I have worked continuously on the establishment, success and recognition of the first formally recognized Lower Shore Business and Technology Incubator. I’ve also facilitated the placement of almost a million dollars of low interest VOLT loan funds with start-ups or expansions. My latest projects include a very promising train excursion venture and a feasibility study that will investigate the viability of a large sports complex in our County.
What are your key priorities within your current position?
- Continued success and expansion of our Business and Technology Incubator
- Connection of last mile broadband on our County
- Facilitation and establishment of a high profile excursion train between the towns of Berlin and Snow Hill
- Completion of Worcester County Sports Arena feasibility studies
- Commercial development on Rt. 50 in West Ocean City
- Supporting our towns and cities in their goals for economic development
Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.
We have the opportunity to bring a sports arena, with an adjacent practice facility and an outdoor sports complex to Worcester County. Our proximity to the beach, and our regional proximity to major markets, such as DC, Philadelphia and others make our location prime for travel leagues and visitors who want to participate in a sporting event and then visit the beach along with many other venues our area has to offer.
What professional pressures keep you up at night?
We have a very high volume office, and produce a lot of outcomes for those we work with. Ensuring that everyone gets the same, top-notch level of service with the number of staff members we have can be a challenge, but it’s also what excites me. We build close relationships with business owners and community members here, and we get to be a part of their world, learning about their businesses and objectives. Our goal is to propel local businesses forward so that their goals become reality.
What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
- We want heavy commercial development on the Rt. 50 corridor. Over 8 million people drive through this corridor on their way to Ocean City every year and there is tremendous opportunity awaiting businesses that choose to locate there.
- We are located (in the southern end of our County) only 15 minutes away from NASA Wallops Island, and enjoy close relationships with leadership there to assist contractors interested in partnerships with the organization. We also have low-cost rent opportunities in our business Incubator for them, and multiple blue ribbon schools in our County for families working with NASA, but living in Worcester.
- Worcester County offers a competitive tax structure for businesses, along with a variety of other tax incentives aimed at attracting business.
- We have 3 Enterprise Zones in our County, and our entire County is a HUBZone.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?
We would love to work with MEDA to bring natural gas connectivity and broadband access for all areas on lower shore.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?
I love what I do, and love to inspire others to get into this field. There is always something new to learn!