County Council supports ACAC national school program

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper County Council delivers a proclamation to the Dorchester County Board of Education declaring November 10—14 Maryland College Application Campaign week. In the photo, from left: Ricky Travers, Zulieka Jarmon-Horsey, Dr. Henry Wagner, Jay Newcomb, Rick Price, Tom Bradshaw, William Nichols.

CAMBRIDGE — Nov. 10-14 was designated Maryland College Application Campaign week at the Oct. 21 Dorchester County Council meeting. School Superintendent Dr. Henry Wagner accepted the proclamation celebrating the school system’s participation in a national program designed to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential and help high school seniors wade through the often complicated college admissions process that can be daunting for students and their families.
The county partners with the program, the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) to help remove barriers for students who would like to attend a post secondary school but lack information or support. There are opportunities at two and four year colleges and universities; certificate and trade schools; the military and registered apprenticeships. A state goal is to increase the percentage of the state’s working population from 46.5 percent to 60 percent by 2025. Obtaining a post secondary degree has been shown to increase that opportunity. Dr. Wagner said that a school system mission for each student is to “emerge college and career ready.” Zulieka Jarmon-Horsey, coordinator of School Counselors, joined Dr. Wagner in thanking the council for its support.
At the Oct. 21 meeting, Director of Economic Development Keasha Haythe presented her FY 2014 draft annual report. She said, “In 2008 when I came in as Director, Dorchester County’s unemployment rate was over 11 percent. That rate has decreased as of year-end 2013 to 9.7 percent and today we are averaging about an 8.8 percent rate.”
She reported that the department’s “business attraction and retention effort,” produced 2014 revenue of over $163 million of capital investment. Highlights of the report noted contacts with 200 companies for retention and expansion in the county’s north end. Twenty-three site visits and tours were conducted for prospects interested in moving or expanding to the county. Eighty-five jobs were created through expansion with more than 800 jobs retained.

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper Dorchester County Economic Development department director Keasha Haythe delivers the department’s annual report and discusses the improving economic conditions in the county.

The department is working with businesses to secure more than $235,000 in revolving loan funds from the Eastern Shore Revolving Loan Fund. On a personal note, Ms. Haythe noted she participates with the Maryland Economic Development Association; has spoken to business and industry groups; and implemented a small business awards program attended last year by over 100 people.
Susan Banks, business development manager, reviewed her progress since coming on board in January 2014. She is working to fill 6,200 square feet in the former Sensata building on Woods Road; a second business “is teaming up with the Tech Center to create internship programs for both high schools”; and another technology company will move to Dorchester County. She is in contact with a European airplane manufacturer for the Tech Park and with a benefits management group that would hire 175 employees.
Ms. Banks announced that a lease has been signed and permits issued for a Save-a-Lot store slated to open in Feburary 2015 in the former Acme building. “We’re making baby steps and I think good things are happening,” she said.
The presentation closed with a marketing video that showcased existing County businesses.
The Legislative session to define a farm building and provide exemption from the county building code moved quickly. William Layton, president of the Dorchester County Farm Bureau, expressed support for the definition because, “Anything that can be done to give us a little reprieve (from excessive regulations) is greatly appreciated. It’s consistent with what’s been done in other states to exempt farm buildings.” The legislation passed unanimously.
The next County Council meeting is slated for Nov. 3, 6 p.m.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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