ANNAPOLIS, MD—Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has 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. The list of approved projects include:
- Development of an agricultural biotechnology manufacturing center in Talbot County ($500,000);
- A comprehensive plan to enhance airline service and improve economic development through the Salisbury‐Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY).
- A new industrial park in Somerset County, which will help attract businesses looking to expand in the Mid Atlantic region ($3.3 million);
- Dredging in the West Ocean City Commercial Harbor, which will benefit waterfront- and marine-dependant businesses as well as thousands of recreational boaters ($275,000);
- The development of an open-air pavilion in Calvert County, which would support a farmers market and other community events as well as promote tourism in Prince Frederick ($2 million);
- Enhanced public gathering space at St. Mary’s Regional Airport, which would be used to promote aviation activities and attract new visitors ($380,000);
- Road improvements in Cecil County to support business development in and near Principio Business Park ($1.98 million);
- Construction of a cell phone tower in Queen Anne’s County to enhance wireless communications in the area and support commercial development ($10,000);
- Renovations of a historic former courthouse building in Cumberland in Allegany County so it can be leased or sold to the private sector ($1 million);
- Development of a shared facility in Garrett County to provide a number of small vegetable farmers with the means to wash, pack, store and ship their products at the appropriate temperatures, which will help these businesses expand ($70,000).
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.
“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.”