Washington County, Md., business development department vows to listen

By Mike Lewis
Susan Small, business leader with the Washington County (Md.) Department of Business Development, said the department plans to be more visible in the next coming months. She recently addressed a morning “Eggs and Issues” gathering sponsored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

The Washington County Department of Business Development has promised to do a lot of listening.

Representatives of the department spoke at a Washington County Chamber of Commerce “Eggs and Issues” breakfast recently. Susan Small, the department’s business leader, said the department will work on that team approach moving forward.

“Our biggest charge this year, for our department of business development and working with our Economic Development Commission, is going to be partnerships, internally and externally,” she said.

Small joined Linda Spence, the business and event coordinator, and Leslie Hart, the agriculture business specialist, in speaking at the breakfast.

“You will see us out and about. We want to celebrate your success,” Spence told the group, which numbered more than 100 people. 

The county is without a business development director. Kathleen “Kassie” Lewis’ employment with the county ended May 22. Officials have declined to talk about the circumstances of her leaving, saying it is a personnel matter.

In an interview May 23 with Herald-Mail Media, County Administrator Rob Slocum said officials will “work hard to find the right person that can fill some pretty big shoes. We will keep moving forward.”

During the chamber event, Small, Spence and Hart focused on the future.

“We have some major partners, like CHIEF and the chamber, CVB, the City of Hagers-
town,” Small said before the presentation, referring to the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, which is known as CHIEF, and to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re going to continue to work with those primary partners, and there are many, many secondary partners that we’re going to continue to work with for outreach. We’re starting some new marketing plans this year.

“You’re going to see us out and about a lot more this year. We’re going to be visiting a lot of businesses one on one, maybe partnering with some of our EDC board members, some of our elected officials, even other department heads.”

Hart talked about the agritourism app that the county launched last year. It’s intended to link customers directly with local producers.

“It’s going to connect you to all the local farms in the community,” she said.

Spence briefly reviewed some recent commercial construction projects and proposals, such as the Patriot Federal Credit Union building going up on Robinwood Drive near Meritus Medical Center.

The report included few statistics.

It did mention some projects in the works, including extending four connecting roads intended to spur economic development. Those include Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive, Crayton Boulevard, Halfway Boulevard and Professional Boulevard.

“It’s really in its infancy at this point,” Small said.