January 2017 Viewpoint

The future is bright for the City of Salisbury and Wicomico County in 2017.

Several projects from last year are still 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 in collaboration signing an agreement to run City water 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 adding 600 feet to the existing 6400 feet enabling the airport to accommodate jet aircraft taking off with a full load  is in the hands of the FAA. Hopefully it will be on the “fast track” of a couple of years for completion instead of the usual 5 to 7 years for a Federal Government project. Internal restructuring of airport plans/growth/procedures through updated strategic plan are underway along with the approval of the expansion of the Enterprise Zone to the airport.

City Personal Property Tax:  We talked about this tax last year and it’s still out there. The County at the suggestion of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce eliminated its personal property tax and we hope 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 been for over a year 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 completed a study and confirmed there are financial compensation differences that need to be worked out between the City and County. The Mayor and County Executive are in a position to demonstrate huge leadership roles in resolution of this agreement.

Several options are on the table to resolve differences eliminating this issue and moving forward in a cooperative professional manner.

Lower Shore Wind Development-Off Shore:  We talked about OSW last year-and its coming!! Leases have been signed and will be awarded in early 2017 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, a welding school has opened, construction of barges, crew and product delivery vessels by a local ship builder are possible.

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.

Wor-Wic Community College:  The Chamber along with the Greater Salisbury Committee put in many hours, days and nights working on the Free Tuition program for Wicomico graduates. We still believe the threshold for families to qualify is too low and eliminating many families that are entitled to free tuition. We’ll work through that hiccup this year prior to budget time.

Our Future:

These are “some” key components to our success in 2017. I need to mention the future complexion of downtown Salisbury is about to be transformed with construction on lots 1, 10, 11, 30 and the Marina! Exciting times for sure…

The City has changed. The County has changed. Its leadership has changed. It’s time to re-align our minds. Because a mind once stretched by new ideas, never regains its original dimensions. One thing is for sure, if we don’t change, we shall be removed from the competition and that’s unacceptable.

 

Written by:

Ernie Colburn, President & CEO

Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce

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