MEDA Members’ Corner: Jay “Meash” Meashey

Jay “Meash” Meashey, Economic Development Director, City of Taneytown

Explain your background in economic development
After managing bars and restaurants for 15 years, I went back to school at Salisbury University to finish my undergraduate degree in Urban & Regional Planning. I decided to focus on economic development because of my background in management and a long-time interest in how government can make the economy work for everyone.

What are your key priorities within your current position?
My tenure began on March 1, and I began with a listening tour. In addition to our City Council members and the Mayor, I’ve met individually with 29 business owners or managers so far. By the end of the year I’d like to hit 100. One of my priorities is to look at our home-based businesses and see if they’re being served by the City; I’d like to see some or most of them evolve into Main Street commercial tenants. I’m engaging with stakeholders at all levels to examine a long-discussed truck bypass around our downtown that will allow residents and visitors to choose downtown shopping without fear of aggressive truck traffic. We’re fortunate to have five major manufacturers operating in town; I want to keep the City prepared for if and when those operators are ready to expand.

What professional pressures keep you up at night?
I’m acutely aware of the fact that government at all levels moves in an annual cycle, and if one of our small businesses misses a deadline for COVID-assistance or participating in a marketing initiative or anything like that, they might not be here for the next cycle. I have to match our government rhythms with the needs of people who work on a two-week payroll cycle or a monthly rent and utilities cycle.

What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
1. Taneytown has been a constantly-growing “bedroom community” for the last 25 years, with most of our residents traveling out for work. As we continue annexation and subdivision, we’re reaching the critical mass where our residents don’t want to travel to Westminster, Frederick, or Gettysburg anymore to eat, shop, and play. Right now, it’s affordable to grow a consumer-oriented business here; don’t wait until it’s not!
2. Our Mayor and City Council are very business-friendly and not afraid to use the resources of government to encourage business growth.
3. Our Economic Development Department is working with a local bank, our high schools, Carroll Community College, and employers to ensure that younger people are entering the workforce with skills our companies need and the savvy to start their financial life responsibly.

Please include any personal background information that you’d like to share (Alma mater, Military Service, hobbies, etc)
I attended Penn State from 1999-2003 before going into restaurant management. I finished my degree at Salisbury University from 2019-2021. In Fall 2021, I’ll begin a part time Master of City & Regional Planning degree at Morgan State University. Travel is my biggest hobby, and I especially enjoying traveling to celebrate Mardi Gras/Carnival in different cities throughout the world.

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