Pictured, Eric Robison, EMM Legislative Chair, Mark Galinsky, Field Representative for Congressman John Delaney, Mark Stutzman, EMM President
Following a successful campaign and receiving a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman John Delaney, Engage Mountain Maryland has launched a new initiative called Adventure Capital (AdCap). The Congressional recognition praises EMM for their “Devotion to protect the environment through advocacy, education, and outreach.” The nonprofit group is rolling out this new economic development arm of the organization to attract new businesses to Garrett County that are sustainable and environmentally compatible with existing commerce and rural lifestyles. The tagline “Let’s take this outside” greets website traffic and shares the many advantages businesses would enjoy should they locate to the rural mountain escape.
The site's “Private" pages target potential industry-specific clients while programs are being developed. The password-access pages allow companies to share exclusive initiatives internally and privately.
“We need businesses in Garrett County that offer good wages and opportunities for young families,” explains Mark Stutzman, EMM President. “Who we are looking to attract will not compete with existing businesses or negatively impact our environment.” The initiative focuses on technology, research and development, call centers, back office support, and related businesses that can operate with little more than broadband connections, phone service, and a comfortable workplace. The organization is also counting on their nonprofit status to put companies at ease with the understanding there is no personal gain when they are sought out.
“An important part of this program will involve our county stakeholders,” says Eric Robison, EMM Legislative Chair. Robison brought this idea to EMM over a year ago and is now seeing it come to fruition. “Mark and I have been meeting with as many stakeholders as we can to build a strong network that will collectively support new business opportunities,” continues Robison. “We’ve seen nothing but positive feedback and an eagerness to see this through. Rural economies like ours deserve closer consideration, and we're working hard to bring new business here by capitalizing on our extensive natural assets.”
A central theme with AdCap is presenting the attributes of living and working in a rural location. Pulling businesses from major metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and even New York City is not an impossible sell according to Stutzman. “Garrett County offers so many things that city life can’t and never will,” he says. “Easy or short commutes, lower real estate prices, safe and intimate school systems, and the benefits of being part of a close-nit community are unique qualities we can offer right now.”
AdCap also boasts the ability to set up shop in a vacation resort area like scenic Western Maryland where investment dollars go further than in congested competitive metro markets. “We keep looking for a downside,” shared Robison. “But we haven’t found one yet. We realize our area isn’t right for every business, but for certain businesses, it will be perfect!”
The EMM team has also pursued input from consultants that have experience in this area. To get the program off the ground, most of their energy has been put toward building a network of stakeholders including Garrett College, Commissioner Paul Edwards, and The Greater Oakland Business Association (GOBA). With a unified interest behind the program, it’s more certain potential investors will have a seamless experience when locating to the county. AdCap also shares rural funding programs and incentives that will shortcut research time for business owners who are seeking added financial assistance.
AdCap will partner with GOBA to look into how Oakland could benefit and offer available office space to potential businesses that fit the profile. GOBA recently organized a robust revitalization initiative on the heels of a downtown assessment by the American Institute of Architects, and kicked things off at this year’s annual meeting. A newly formed group is an Economic Vitality Committee, Chaired by Fred Gregg, GOBA President. "Other initiatives we’re looking into included free downtown WiFi, review of ordinances and the possibility of a collective rooftop solar array,” said Gregg. “We will also be conducting a survey to assess what needs local businesses have that might currently be overlooked. Our committee has a nice diversity of experience and interests that should really benefit our town."
"I'm very excited by this opportunity to work directly with GOBA," explains Stutzman. "Having our county seat's endorsement simply adds leverage as we introduce this idea to potential investors.” With revitalization efforts in full swing and parallel initiatives to attract new business, Garrett County looks to be headed in the right direction. "There's an energy that's palpable," says Stutzman. "Everyone I talk to lately is involved in something and offering to help in ways to improve our economy. It is in the spirit of an actual renaissance.”
Anyone interested in becoming a stakeholder or hosting a presentation with your group can send their request to AdventureCapitalBiz@gmail.com. Those curious can visit the website at AdventureCapital.Biz and sign up for their mailing list. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @Adven_Capital.