Bill Chambers: Education, employer mandates among 2018 priorities

The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce experienced many changes, challenges and opportunities in 2017. Looking ahead to 2018, opportunities to advance a pro-business climate for Delmarva will be among this year’s top initiatives

This all starts with member services to our more than 700 businesses and organizations. The continuation of a myriad of workshops and programs, all free to members, will be a primary benefit and focus.

Topics including workplace safety, health care, human resources, Google for business, financial planning for business and business investment strategies just to name a few of the offerings for businesses in 2018 through the Salisbury Area Chamber.

The Chamber in 2018 will take on a strong advocacy role for Shore businesses. The Chamber will continue to fight for businesses on issues such as HB 1 ( Maryland Healthy Working Families Act ) AKA, the mandatory leave bill that Governor Hogan vetoed in June of 2017 but is likely to be overturned as the 2018 General Assembly session begins.

That legislation is another intrusion into the way Maryland businesses operate their respective entities and is a job killer not a job protector. Continued state legislation that forces new employer mandates will be vigorously opposed by the Chamber and we will work with our lawmaker delegation to ensure they are aware of the adverse consequences of such legislation.

Regionally and locally, the Chamber will continue to work closely with our partners, including the Greater Salisbury Committee, on the offshore wind initiative, Salisbury-Wicomico airport service expansion and airport capital expansion efforts.

Additionally, along with the Greater Salisbury Committee, we will work to ensure that the Wicomico County public schools, the key driver of our local economy, receive funding commitments that push the system forward as a county school system that places student achievement as a No. 1 priority.

This is a long-term initiative that begins with the recognition that our public schools and our children deserve the best and brightest teachers, up to date learning environments, competitive technology resources in all classrooms with the goal of moving the system to be among the best county public school systems in Maryland! In addition, both the Greater Salisbury Committee and the Chamber fully support the County Executive’s priority to fund Universal Pre-K for our children in Wicomico County. Universal Pre-K provides a huge return on investment for our children and our community.

The Wor-Wic Economic Scholarship program must stay in place and be expanded to include more of our high school graduating seniors, again, another key economic driver for our region.

Funding the Wicomico library system at a level that allows the system to work hand in hand with our educational assets to provide more in depth and valuable services needs serious attention.

The Chamber will continue our tradition of connecting members with policy makers, elected officials, business leaders and leaders in education with our ongoing series of events.

Upcoming events include; the Jan. 18 luncheon featuring Library Director Andrea Berstler and Steve Hicks of the Maryland Department of Education speaking on Universal Pre-K; the State of the Wicomico County Public Schools luncheon on Jan. 29 at Parkside High School; Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith at the Feb. 22 Chamber luncheon; quarterly VIP dinners with breakout business leaders at Salisbury University; and numerous other events that provide value to the regional business community.

The Salisbury Area Chamber will install a new Board Chair, Chris Eccleston, at the Chamber’s Installation Luncheon on Jan. 25th and thank Cathy Townsend for her stalwart leadership for the Chamber in 2017.

Chamber committees are active and vibrant and are always welcoming new committee members, new ideas and initiatives to better serve our regional business community.

Information on Chamber Committees, all upcoming Chamber events and how the Chamber can serve and protect your business and business interests can be found on our website at: salisburyarea.com or call our office at 410-749-0144.

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