Regional Background

The Mid-Shore Region of the Eastern Shore of Maryland is facing significant economic challenges due to the diminishing economic returns in our natural resource-based industries and the loss of large manufacturing and food processing companies that have traditionally been the foundation of the local economy. In November 2002, Black and Decker announced that it would close its power tool manufacturing facility in Easton, Maryland by December 2003. Black and Decker employed approximately 1,250 people.

The economic impact was felt throughout the Mid-Shore Region of Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties and beyond. Therefore, local governments and citizens actively searched for opportunities to maintain viable agriculture and fishing industries and foster the development of new technology-based business clusters that would provide living wage jobs for the existing and future workforce.

The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process has been a valuable and timely venue for addressing our economic development needs.

Investments facilitated by the Mid-Shore CEDS Committee

The efforts of the CEDS Committee have been rewarded over the past several years with federal and state grant awards as well as private sector investment. The following is a summary of U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awards.


While steady progress is being made the Mid-Shore economy still faces a myriad of challenges that include limited access to affordable high speed broadband services, a shortage of affordable housing, an inadequate supply of skilled workers, low per capita income, and more layoffs in the manufacturing sector.

The CEDS committee members recognize their work is just beginning.


The Mid-Shore EDD serves a three county region including Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot.


The initial CEDS combined the data, recommendations and conclusions from previous research and strategic plans:

  • Governor’s Task Force Report on Economic Development for Maryland’s Eastern Shore
  • Dorchester County CEDS
  • Caroline County Overall Economic Development Program Plan (OEDP)
  • Goals from the Talbot County Economic Development Commission.

These efforts defined the strengths and challenges of the Mid-Shore economy. The Mid-Shore CEDS committee used these resources to refine our regional economic development goals and identify industry clusters that are the focus for future projects that will mitigate the existing barriers to job creation, build essential infrastructure, and strengthen and diversify the Mid-Shore regional economy.

In 2002, the CEDS Committee met once a month for 6 months to review and debate all the elements of the strategy. To provide professional guidance and develop policy recommendations a Steering Committee was created. The Steering Committee consisted of the Economic Development Directors from each county, one citizen/business volunteer from each county and the Executive Director of the Mid-Shore Regional Council.

The CEDS committee developed a draft CEDS document. The draft was presented in public forums at the Caroline and Dorchester Board of County Commissioner meetings and to the Talbot County Council for further review and comment. After all public comment was reviewed and incorporated the document was submitted to the EDA. With the successful completion and approval of the Mid-Shore CEDS the committee agreed to meet twice a year to conduct future revisions and/or updates.

The CEDS document analysis section and appendices are updated annually with the latest available statistical information. The Committee also takes into account the latest counties’ economic development strategies when reviewing the document, such as:

  • Caroline County Strategic Plan for Economic Development, Fiscal Years 2015 – 2020 by Sage Policy Group, October 2014
  • Economic Development Strategic Plan for Dorchester County Maryland: Collaborate, Harness, Innovate & Promote Opening Doors for Business prepared by Vantage Point Development Advisors, January 2013
  • Economic Development Strategic Plan for Talbot County and the Towns – an Opportunity for Alignment by Sage Policy Group, April 2013

During this past year’s meetings, the CEDS Committee examined and discussed the Goals and Objectives of the strategy and made revisions. The Committee reviewed the Action Plan, received updates on current projects, and made appropriate changes and additions. After all updates were approved at the Committee’s January 4, 2024 meeting, the document was revised to reflect the changes. Additionally, the Analysis section was given its annual update.

The revised CEDS was included on the agenda of the publicly announced meeting of the Mid-Shore Regional Council (MSRC). During the March 7, 2024 MSRC meeting the CEDS was further discussed and ratified. Following the meeting the MSRC conducted a 30-days public notice and comment period for the CEDS prior to its submission to EDA in April 2024.



The Mid-Shore Regional Council (MSRC) is the lead agency in the CEDS process. The staff and Council members have established and maintain a committee to oversee the process. The MSRC Executive Director is the facilitator. To ensure that needs and interests from the entire community are included, the committee is comprised of stakeholders from the major business, education and civic groups.

The Committee includes representatives from private companies, local governments, agriculture, education, public health agencies, ethnic groups and women. These participants bring the skills, experience and the political will to the process that is necessary for successful program development and implementation. Each county appoints their CEDS representatives. The steering committee identifies and recruits other community leaders to ensure adequate representation and compliance with federal statutes. All members are volunteers and serve a term of one year. After one year they are given the option to continue or recommend a replacement that can represent their community’s interest.

  • Adelaide Eckhart, Dorchester County resident
  • Alan Silverstein, Talbot County resident
  • Allen Nelson, Dorchester County resident
  • Amy Kreiner, Talbot County Chamber of Commerce
  • Andy Hollis, Private Citizen
  • Anthony Casey, Town of Ridgely Commissioner
  • Bill Bernard, Maryland Technology Development Corporation
  • Bill Christopher, Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce
  • Burton Wilson, Talbot County minority representative
  • Carolyn Spicher, Caroline County business representative
  • Cassandra Vanhooser, Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism
  • Christopher Adams, Maryland District 37 B Delegate
  • Chuck Callahan, Talbot County Council
  • Clay Stamp, Talbot County Manager
  • Cliff Coppersmith, Chesapeake College President
  • Dan Franklin, Caroline County resident
  • Dan McDermott, Talbot County resident
  • Dan Rider, Association of Forestry Industries, Inc.
  • Dan Schneckenburger, Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board
  • Debbie Bowden, Caroline County Department of Economic Development and Tourism
  • Frank Bartz, Caroline County Commissioner
  • Greg Padgham, Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland
  • Holly DeKarske, Easton Economic Development Corporation
  • Holly Gilpin, Dorchester County Office of Tourism
  • James Redman, Public School Administrator
  • Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Talbot County business representative
  • Jeff Powell, Interim Dorchester County Manager
  • Jeremy Goldman, Caroline County Administrator
  • Jerome Stanley, Dorchester County minority representative
  • Johnny Mautz, Maryland District 37 Senator
  • Joyce Harrod, Town of St. Michaels Commissioner
  • Kurt Fuchs, Maryland Farm Bureau
  • Larry Porter, Caroline County Commissioner
  • Lauren McDermott, Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative
  • Lenny Pfeffer, Dorchester County Council
  • Letitia Nichols, USDA Rural Development
  • Lynn Mielke, Talbot County Council
  • Maria D’Arcy, Caroline County minority representative
  • Melissa Kelly, business representative
  • Michael Scott, Salisbury University, School of Science & Technology, Dean
  • Mike Thielke, Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center
  • Mindie Burgoyne, Maryland Department of Commerce
  • Nancy LaJoice, Maryland Department of Commerce
  • Ricky Travers, Dorchester County Council
  • Robert Hutchison, resource-based business representative
  • Ronnie Gist, Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS)
  • Santo A. Grande, Delmarva Community Services, Inc.
  • Stephen Rideout, City of Cambridge Mayor
  • Susan Banks, Dorchester County Economic Development Office
  • Susan O’Neill, Upper Shore Regional Council
  • Tom Hutchinson, Maryland District 37B Delegate
  • Tony Kern, business and investment representative
  • Tracey Snyder, Caroline County Chamber of Commerce
  • Walter Chase, Talbot County resident


The CEDS Committee meets twice a year to evaluate the planning process, review the status of implementation activities, and submit new projects. The CEDS document is updated once a year as required by the Economic Development Administration. The following outline reflects the committee’s evaluation procedure:


Evaluate Current Economic Condition

The Mid-Shore Regional Council will oversee the evaluation process with the CEDS Committee. The evaluation process will begin with a discussion of the economic situation in the region and how it has changed within the past year. Presentations on the status of the economic conditions of each county will be made by their Economic Development Directors. State information will be presented by an official of the Maryland Department of Commerce. Other statistical information will be obtained from various federal, state and local agencies.


Review goals and objectives

Based on changes in the local economy, the committee reviews the existing goals to insure that they reflect the region’s economic needs and conditions. Any modification of the goals requires a majority vote from the CEDS Committee. Each goal will be evaluated separately by the CEDS Committee using the worksheet in Appendix D. These worksheets will be completed by the Steering Committee and presented to the CEDS committee for review and potential modifications.


Review current/ongoing and new projects for consistency with revised goals.

All of the current projects are discussed in regard to meeting identified goals and objectives.

  • Determine the success of each completed project in terms of meeting the identified goals.
  • Review the progress of current projects, and add new projects to the document after reviewing them for consistency with the goals.
  • Apply the approved prioritization criteria to adjust the rating for the projects and programs
  • Review the level of public involvement and education

Partners and Resources for Economic Development

The following is a list of the agencies and organizations that are partners for economic development. All the partners provide a range of expertise and are available to assist in the implementation of the CEDS.

Municipalities and County Governments
  • Economic development offices
  • Public Works
  • Departments of Social Services
  • Tourism Departments
  • Planning Departments
  • Boards of Education
State Departments
  • Office of Planning
  • Tourism Office
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Housing and Community Development
  • General Assembly
  • Governor’s Office
  • Department of Agriculture
  • University of Maryland Extension Service
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Economic Development Administration
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administration,
  • Small Business Administration
  • Department of Commerce
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal laboratories
Local and Private
  • Community Action Agencies
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Rural Development Center, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Local Banks
  • Local Management Boards
  • Watermen’s Associations
  • Delmarva Community Services, Inc.
  • Local Colleges and Universities
  • Farm Bureaus
  • Foundations

A significant resource is the staff expertise at the region’s County Economic Development Departments and the Mid-Shore Regional Council. These partners have diverse backgrounds in the private sector and all levels of government. They serve as subject matter experts on a variety of advisory boards in the region including the CEDS Committee.

The various grant and loan programs will be an essential source of funding assistance in carrying out the CEDS activities. Technical assistance and financial support will be accessed in order to realize goals. The Region plans to utilize all available funds from the Economic Development Administration and Rural Development Administration, Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to carry out CEDS activities and to achieve CEDS goals. Additionally, tax credits and funding matches through various state and local governments are essential in implementing the plan.