Viewpoint – January 2016

As we look ahead to 2016, the future is bright for the City of Salisbury and Wicomico County.

Several projects are on the table that your Chamber is involved with that will promote growth, friendlier business environment, and overall positioning of our area as a contender for future prosperity. Here are just a few of the “key” projects the Chamber is involved with:

Regional Airport:  Both the city and county are working in collaboration to get city water ran to the airport, which will provide the necessary water pressure for fire suppression and enable the industrial park to be expanded to include buildings in excess of 10,000 sq. ft. Primary runaway expansion has been completed enabling the airport to accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 757, landing and taking off. Internal restructuring of airport plans/growth/procedures through updated strategic plan. These items should open the window of opportunity for new and existing industry.

City Personal Property Tax:  The county at the suggestion of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce eliminated its personal property tax and we expect the city to follow, thus enhancing a “business friendly environment.” The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce has proposed a phase out plan of the 45% tax to the mayor and he has viewed it favorably.

Fire Service Agreement: The Chamber has for months been working with the city and county leadership quietly to resolve a long standing dispute about city serving county residents and not being compensated accordingly. An outside firm will do a study and report back to both sides shortly. The key ingredient here after the report is presented is, “Will both the city and county agree to move forward with the suggestions from this outside firm report?” If they don’t, we’re back to square one and that will not serve the best interest of the fire departments, nor the citizens of the city or county. Several other options are on the table to resolve differences eliminating this issue and move forward in a cooperative manner.

Lower Shore Wind Development-Off Shore:  Leases have been signed and $20 million invested to date in development of an off shore wind farm 12 miles off Ocean City. This can be a HUGE economic opportunity for the Eastern Shore, Ocean City and the City of Salisbury. For Salisbury, the opportunity exists in developing an East Coast hub manufacturing center including turbine blade construction and repair, manufacturing of wiring harnesses for the turbines, construction of barges, and crew and product delivery vessels by a local ship builder. This facility would not only service the wind farm off Ocean City, but additional wind farms from Maine to the Carolinas. A welding school has already opened and graduated its first class of students. This is a long term project with “steel in the water” (construction) off Ocean City beginning by 2018. Additional opportunities exist in the construction and operation of the “O & M” (operation and maintenance facility) in West Ocean City that will service off shore wind.

There are hundreds of local businesses that can benefit from this project as suppliers/manufacturers of the over 8000 different parts that go into the construction of a single wind turbine, not to mention maintenance and repair of the turbines over the life of the project.

Our Future:  Our market will “identify its identity” and develop its “branding” in 2016. We will compete for new industries that build on our region’s past. We will become willing to experiment and embrace new industries and ideas thus expanding our cultural and community dynamics. Business, academic, and government will be functioning together.

These are key components to our success in 2016.

The Chamber’s mission statement declares “The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce is an organization of community focused leaders dedicated to promoting a positive business environment by supporting economic development through networking, teamwork, and innovative thinking. We are THE voice and resource for business, education, agriculture, civic and community organizations throughout Delmarva.”

Yes, the future is bright for Salisbury and Wicomico County and your Chamber is primed to help take our future to the next level.

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