2017 MEDA Awards Banquet: Executive Director’s Perspective

Last week MEDA held our annual Awards ceremony which recognizes the best of the best in economic development in Maryland. I was reminded as I was surrounded by over 250 attendees watching the award-winner videos, that our members truly do transform lives as our tagline states.

Marketing Initiatives that Matter

How clever was the Charles County Economic Development Map Pen marketing campaign? The audience filled the room with applause when we saw the interesting placement of the traveling pen. If you’re unsure of where Charles County, Maryland is…watch the video, or get your hands on the pen and you’ll certainly get your bearings. Taking something as commonplace as a pen and using it as a powerful piece of marketing collateral, is just one example of how Charles County Department of Economic Development is inspiring innovation in the region.

The phenomenal GIS program used at Datastory combines, well, data and a story to market locations for business. Their use of this tool affected Marriott International headquarters decision to stay in Montgomery County! Bring the facts, yes. But also bring the message from the people. It was a winning combination. The nomination, Data-Driven Decisions Through the Lens of a Map, was a true datastory that inspired innovation in this community.

Projects Propelling Maryland Forward

Thanks to the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development who nominated our most delicious award winner, Smith Island Baking Company. And not just because the cake tasted so good at dessert, but because we got to see the makings of Maryland’s official state dessert, at the hands of the people who work to create this tasty treat on the eastern shore. Seeing employees turn a dream into reality, and hearing how successfully this business has grown by selling its product locally and all over the country, is a testament to economic development in action. This is the kind of work that enriches communities.

A stellar example of adaptive reuse, City Garage in Baltimore breeds new business in Maryland. Taking budding businesses under its wing, City Garage is the pinnacle of innovation in the workplace and work space. One of the coolest parts of this project is how the building began. Originally a maintenance facility for Baltimore City vehicles, it has evolved to maintain and preserve innovative ideas in the City. Keep watching for bigger things from this project that continues to enrich the community.

A Program Providing Opportunity

Let’s hear it for Maryland Department of Commerce and their creation of the VLT program as it heralded a unique way of financing that compliments traditional sources for small, minority, and women-owned business. The program uses gaming revenue as a lending source to the targeted demographic, which makes it the only loan program of its kind in the state. Job creation? You bet. But VLT went the extra mile and gave us not only jobs but gave entrepreneurs a business. Creating opportunities is a primary focus in economic development and this project meets the mark. 

We Unveiled our First-Ever Transformative Excellence Award

Howard County Economic Development Authority took us on an emotional roller coaster. From bitter sadness to cheerful applause, you could feel Howard County Economic Development Authority’s passion for its community. The video brought the reality of last year’s storm to the forefront of our minds. How sad to see the lives of the Ellicott City residents ripped apart in the storm, but uplifting to see our economic development community, many MEDA members, step in and serve as a valuable resource during a crisis. Businesses reopened, jobs renewed, homes renovated, and a city revived. This group is the epitome of transformative leadership in action.

Honoring the Individuals who Make an Impact

We recognized a tireless leader, Arnold Williams, for his volunteer efforts in the City of Baltimore. Mr. Williams is a dedicated businessman who serves on an impressive number of boards and donates his time to help so many.  He is an iconic leader and now a member of the MEDA family.

We also inducted Jim Brady into our Hall of Fame. Jim having been a secretary at what is known today as the Maryland Department of Commerce, he has also served on transition teams for two Governors.  His leadership is well known. A champion of our work, Jim has always believed economic development is important. He laid the groundwork for many who were in the room.

Your Work is Worth It

I hope that our awards program, not only showcases some of Maryland’s best and brightest, but I hope it inspires you to focus on a marketing initiative, project, or program that plays a part in enriching and revolutionizing your community. And, as Jim Brady said, “You do the heavy lifting. The work you are doing has never been more important in our country’s history than it is right now.”  You are the champions of your community. And most importantly, you transform lives.