MEDA hosts Rural Economic Development Session in Maryland

Supporting Small Business Recovery on Mid and Lower Shore

BALTIMORE, Md. (October 25, 2021) — The Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) will host a Rural Economic Development Session, themed Small Business Fuels Eastern Shore Recovery. Sponsored by PNC Bank, the session will be held on Thursday, October 28 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on Zoom. Topics, ranging from tools for economic emergencies to equity, accessing capital to workforce development, examine real-time concerns on the Eastern Shore. Sessions, delivered in a moderated panel format, feature small businesses, government and educational leaders invested in the region’s future.

“The road to economic resilience requires a real investment in our rural communities. We’ll explore the challenges and assets available, and provide a framework to move forward,” said Danny Thompson, MEDA President.

Danny Thompson, MEDA President and Director of Somerset County Economic Development Commission and Dr. Heidi Anderson, President of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, will open the session. PNC Bank’s Christopher Rockey, SVP and Northeast Territory Executive, Community Development Banking and Ramsey Harris, Vice President and Greater Maryland Market Manager, Community Development Banking, will make welcome remarks.

The first session, Economic Recovery and Resiliency, discusses the recent disruptors to businesses and unveils new data tools that economic development offices can use to prepare for future emergencies. The session is introduced by Deborah Bowden, Director of Economic Development for Caroline County. The presenter is Dr. Michael Scott, Dean of the Henson School of Science and Technology at Salisbury University.

The first panel, Equity and Inclusion, examines how economic development opportunities can be better accessed by all. The panel is introduced by Susan Banks, Director of Economic Development for Dorchester County, and moderated by Imani Black, Founder and President of Minorities in Aquaculture. Panelists include: Cassandra Brown, Owner of Una Bella Salute; Shawna N. Kearsley, Director of Corporate and Community Relations for the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art; and Ruby Vanags, Owner of Ruby’s Cake Shoppe and Pastries.

The second panel, Accessing Capital, covers the public and private sector sources of capital available to small businesses and explains how to tap into them. Cassandra Vanhooser, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for Talbot County, will introduce the panel. The moderator is Derick Daly, CPA, Executive Director of Building African American Minds. Panelists are: John Hickman, Director of the Small Business Development Center at Salisbury University; Stephen Auvil, Chief Program Operations Officer for TEDCO; and Maurice Ames, Executive Director of Maryland Capital Enterprise.

The final panel, Brought to You By, examines how government, private industry and higher education are approaching labor market challenges and preparing the workforce pipeline. Melanie Pursel, Director of the Office of Tourism & Economic Development for Worcester County, will introduce the panel. The moderator is Gregory Padgham, Executive Director of the Tri-County Council Lower Eastern Shore. Panelists are: Michelle Anders, HR Director of Dart Container; and Michael E. Haynie, CTA, Founder of The Maryland Center for Hospitality Training.

Signe Pringle, Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce, will keynote the event, with an introduction by David Ryan, Executive Director of Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development, Inc. A question and answer session with Deputy Secretary Pringle will follow.

The Rural Economic Development Session is open to MEDA members and Mid and Lower Shore appointed and elected officials. To learn more, please visit or register here.


About MEDA

MEDA enhances the knowledge and skills of its members and encourages partnerships and networking among those committed to bringing jobs and investment to Maryland. In addition to quarterly conferences, members have access to opportunities, discounts and scholarships for professional development and can participate in awards programs that recognize the best economic development projects or programs, redevelopment projects or programs and marketing efforts in the state of Maryland.

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