Governor Hogan Announces 114 Economic Development Projects For Rural Communities
Last Updated on Dec 16, 2022 at 10:04am | Garrett County Economic Development
Rural Maryland Economic Development Fund Allocates $50 Million to 15 Counties for Key Economic Development Projects
Governor Larry Hogan recently announced that 114 economic development projects
in Maryland’s rural counties will be funded through the $50 million Rural Maryland Economic Development Fund. The grant fund, which is overseen by the Maryland Department of Commerce and administered by the five rural regional councils, was announced by Governor Hogan earlier this year to boost economic development activity, stimulate private sector investment, and create jobs in the state’s rural regions.
“Back in 2014, when I was first running for governor, I said that if I was elected the war on Rural Maryland would be over, and that communities that had been ignored and neglected would no longer be forgotten,” said Governor Hogan. “We have made good on that promise, delivering unprecedented investments to our rural communities. These grants and the dozens of projects they support will have a lasting and transformative impact, helping to make these areas more attractive for tourism, jobs, and economic development. This is another shining example of how we are truly changing Rural Maryland for the better.”
Under the program, the five rural regional councils—representing the Upper, Mid, and Lower Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, and Western Maryland—each received $10 million to fund key projects in their respective counties. In September, each council submitted applications for review by Maryland Commerce, with 114 projects receiving approval.
“We were very pleased to receive more than 100 applications for funding, with a wide depth and breadth of projects to review,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “From those that will help to attract new visitors to these areas, to others that will benefit the community and businesses with greater connectivity or upgrading necessary infrastructure, we look forward to these funds being a real boost to our rural counties.”
Some projects will enhance broadband access and workforce training across multiple counties; others will support tourism projects, including visitor centers, walking/biking trails, and event facilities; and feasibility studies and economic development strategies. The counties benefiting from the grant funds include Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester.
The list of approved projects for Garrett County includes
Garrett Growers COOP Amount: $70,000. Garrett Growers Cooperative is a group of vegetable farmers in Garrett County which sell local produce to restaurants, retail outlets and wholesale. As Garrett Growers increases production a major issue is keeping the produce cooled from harvest to delivery. Because of the weather, geography and topography of Garrett County, all the farms involved are considered “small,” according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In particular, fresh produce farms tend to be less than 10 acres and are run by part-time farmers. These farms do not have the capacity to expand without the availability of cold storage and packing infrastructure. A shared use facility that provides food-safe areas for washing, drying, culling, packing, storing, and shipping with appropriate temperatures and humidity levels for many types of products would help local farm businesses expand and thrive. The facility could serve as a place for food processing innovations and experimentation that allows for economic food product development. To increase the efficiency of local food aggregation and distribution in the region, this project will renovate an existing facility to create a facility capable of offering space for larger-scale aggregation, washing, packing, cold storage, and distribution of fresh produce and other local food products. This facility will enhance the capacity of Garrett Growers to comply with food safety regulations, help local agribusinesses, including Amish and Mennonite farmers, access larger markets with modern food processing capabilities, and help regional food businesses access fresh local foods.
Garrett County Shell Building Amount: $2,906,855. This project for the Garrett County Shell Building will achieve job creation, leveraged private investment (for equipment and retrofits), reduce business costs, improve business and the community, with a new design and construction of a 100,000 square feet building allowing for business expansion and start-up. Garrett County Government has been contacted by businesses needing 100,000 square feet of building space proposed to be located at the Keyser’s Ridge Business Park.
Garrett County Public Utilities Amount: $60,000. This project is for the development of “Garrett County Public Utilities-GIS Modeling,” a countywide digital water and sewer utility model to reduce costs, provide better service to households and businesses, and increase the efficiency of DPU repair and information requests. The digital model will be used to collaborate with the municipalities and service areas for updating the Water and Sewer Plan
Garrett College Project: CDL Training Amount: $236,000. Continuing Education & Workforce Development, a division of Garrett College, operates a successful Class A and Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program through its Mountaintop Truck Driving Institute (MTDI). During Fiscal Year 2022, students completing Class B training boasted a 100% pass rate in achieving their CDL, while Class A students achieved a 97% pass rate. The intent of this project is to build upon the solid foundation at MTDI by incorporating technology into the program. Simulation technology is becoming increasingly important in successful truck driving programs, providing students with a variety of experiences which can be mastered before ever getting behind the wheel and driving over-the-road. The simulation technology will also allow for the expansion of training opportunities to younger students, through dual enrollment with Garrett County Public Schools.