Those of us who reside in Garrett County do so for a variety of reasons, but surely one that rises to the top for most is a love for the natural surroundings of this western flank of the Appalachian Mountain range. Residents have only to take a short drive – or even a short hike – to savor the natural beauty of any number of scenic spots.
But as gorgeous as it is, this far corner of Maryland is not always available to young families hoping to build lives here. Good paying jobs are slightly more available than in the recent past, with the growth of places such as the Garrett Regional Medical Center, Garrett College, GCC Technologies, and more. But there are still not enough good jobs available, and people who dream of living here are often unable to make the move.
That age-old dilemma is now being tackled by Engage Mountain Maryland (EMM) through its most recent endeavor. EMM has one major success under its belt, as it played a huge role in the state of Maryland's fracking ban signed into law earlier this year. EMM fought against fracking for a host of reasons, including the potential of disastrous pollution to this scenic region, and the threat of water contamination, along with health threats and more. EMM was sometimes criticized by those who felt fracking would bring jobs and money to the area. Pointed questions were put to EMM leaders – if fracking is out, what are we to do now, to provide jobs and security to our residents?
Now, EMM is answering that question, as it launches its newest initiative, Adventure Capital, or "Adcap." The plan was the brainchild of Eric Robison, introduced to EMM more than a year ago, and supported by Mark Stutzman, EMM president. The tagline for the new endeavor is “Let’s take this outside,” inviting business leaders to consider the advantages of operating remotely from this rural mountain vantage point, where the environment is clean and protected, with the intention of keeping it that way.
The idea is to launch companies that can operate nationally or internationally from right here in Garrett County, via internet technology. Businesses that could feasibly take root include those of research and development, call centers, office support, and others that can operate with little more than broadband connections, phone service, and a comfortable workplace. Since EMM is nonprofit, business leaders can be assured that there is no gain being sought by anyone involved other than to foster commerce that is complementary to the environment as well as well-suited for local people seeking good jobs.
The plan is exciting. The dream of people able to secure excellent jobs in Garrett County has been a goal of elected officials for decades, and strategies have come and gone. As technology develops in leaps and bounds on a daily basis, the potential of remote work spaces is also on the increase. And now EMM is on the case – this hard-working, cutting edge, positive organization whose leaders have a passion for Garrett County and its people, and who have at least one major success under their collective belt. We will certainly be watching – and rooting – for another.