MEDA Members’ Corner: A. Cesante Alrey (“A.C.”)

A. Cesante Alrey (“A.C.”), Business Development Manager, Dorchester County Economic Development

Explain your background in economic development
I have a B.A. in Urban and Metropolitan Studies from Michigan State University (MSU). I am a graduate of both the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, and the Auburn University Economic & Community Development Institute’s Intensive Economic Development Training Program.

My background includes working in local government economic development offices in Ohio and Texas primarily. I have worked in the executive and legislative branches of government at both the state and local levels (in Michigan, Texas, and Alabama). I have spent a considerable amount of time in the area of technology transfer and commercialization between the public sector (federal labs) and private industry, as well as several years in the environmental/solid waste industry (including landfills and recycling facilities) in Southwestern Michigan, Western Ohio, Southern Indiana, and Northern/Central Kentucky. I have also spent time in the educational field as a substitute and guest teacher, a recent public school board member, and as an elected official on a local library board of trustees.

I have served in the role as a planning commissioner to several urban and rural communities in both Alabama and Michigan. I have served as both a state and local advisory council member for Extension Offices in Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio — with hopes of continuing in Maryland. I am a recent Aspen Institute Fellow in its Economic Opportunities Program (focused on workforce development.)

What are your key priorities within your current position?
 To provide business and technical assistance to Dorchester County’s entrepreneurs, developers, and business owners, in order to promote the formation, attraction, retention, and expansion of technology-related, agricultural, aqua-cultural, commercial, industrial, retail, and arts/cultural/entertainment/tourism-related businesses.

 To facilitate the attraction and development of new businesses being built in our “shovel-ready” Dorchester Regional Technology Park, specifically in the areas of Value-Added Agriculture, Advanced Manufacturing, IT Services and Software, Environmental and Marine Science, Health Care Services, and Medical Technology. In addition, assisting in the promotion, marketing, and attraction of businesses and entrepreneurs at the start-up and/or early stages to our Eastern Shore Innovation Center (ESIC) for office or co-working space, business mentoring, and overall NETWORKING opportunities — all located within our Tech Park.

 To serve as a liaison between private developers, government representatives, private businesses and entrepreneurs, non-profit agencies, public organizations, community members, and others in exchanging economic development-related information and ideas.

 Overall, to assist our Economic Development team is positively impacting business growth and expansion in Dorchester County.

Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.
As a somewhat new resident, there is no one particular project of excitement – yet. However, I am excited about being a part of this economic development TEAM and our location in the naturally beautiful “heart” of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In understanding this area’s historic past and its impressive future opportunities for new business development, combined with the current retention and expansion efforts of our local governments and community shareholders — I know I made the correct decision in moving here to “live, work, and play!.”

What professional pressures keep you up at night?
Actually, the scenic beauty of this location of Maryland and the great potential for future growth and development here — helps me sleep like a baby.

What attributes are unique to your community?
 A vibrant Downtown in Cambridge filled with small businesses, arts, culture, entertainment, restaurants, and the historic areas of our smaller communities like Hurlock, East New Market, Secretary, Vienna, Hoppersville, Taylor’s Island, and many more……

 The world-renowned Hyatt Recency Chesapeake Bay Resort.

 The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

 Both the Harriet Tubman Museum and Visitors Center

 The natural beauty around us.

 WATER MOVES US!

What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
1. First and foremost, our Dorchester Regional Technology Park AND The Eastern Shore Innovation Center (ESIC), our vast areas of land and water for farming and agriculture, aquaculture, transportation and logistics, recreation, manufacturing, health care, entrepreneur/small business development, and boom in the development of new and the rehabilitation of current residential housing.

2. We are conveniently located off U.S. Route 50 Cambridge is less than 90 miles from the Baltimore, Md and Washington, D.C. markets AND Our Mid-Atlantic Market Proximity to major cities.

3. A vibrant workforce that’s ready to take care of business in the current jobs market and trainable for the future markets.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?
 Creating more jobs with livable wages to our communities.

 Bringing more businesses here from other locations – both nationally and international.

 Recognizing the importance of the Eastern Shore to the economy of the greater Maryland and Mid-Atlantic region.

 Becoming an even greater location for new business start-ups, small businesses, and technology-related industries.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?
It’s great to be here and I look forward to an exciting time meeting and sharing ideas with my fellow MEDA members. You all have a standing invitation to come on over to, up from, and down to Dorchester County!

Please include any personal background information that you’d like to share (Alma mater, Military Service, hobbies, etc)
I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the 100 Black Men of America, a Rotarian (currently of District 6330 Passport (central eastern MI, USA/central western Ontario, Canada) and frequent visitor to the Cambridge Club, a VFW Auxiliary member, a Royal Order of the Moose Lodge member, and other civic/social organizations. As an alum of Michigan State University, I am a previous member of its National Board of Directors and I’ve founded and/or reactivated several local alumni chapters. I am glad Maryland is a member of the BIG TEN!

I love the outdoors, boating and the water (hence, my move to the Eastern Shore in Cambridge/Dorchester county), golf, reading non-fiction and history, preferably that of the African Diaspora, hunting (actually just shooting guns), and most importantly — listening to “live” Jazz music.

My public and nonprofit boards/commissions and community involvement continues to focus on the areas of economic and social justice, community engagement, planning and economic development, environmental issues, regionalism, international relations, arts and culture, education and human/leadership development — all leading to TRUE economic development.

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