Vickie Grinder who was formerly the Town of Thurmont’s part-time Main Street Manager, became Thurmont’s first full-time Economic Development Manager on February 1, 2017. We asked her a few questions about how her first 90 days has been and what the future holds for Thurmont economic development.
What led to the Town of Thurmont’s decision to create a full-time Economic Development Manager position?
The Town of Thurmont had reached a point where we felt we needed to provide an economic development component to help sustain our current businesses, as well as promote Thurmont to prospective new businesses. We felt that a proactive approach, rather than being reactive, was the best way to meet those goals and objectives. Hiring a full-time Economic Development Manager to serve as the catalyst for this process has already proven to be the right move. We have welcomed several new businesses into town and we have met with several other exciting business prospects. Our outreach and marketing has increased significantly and we are already seeing tangible results. We are formulating short term and long term plans to increase our economic vitality far into the future.
How does the Main Street role tie into this position?
Hey, Main Street is the heart of any town, big or small! Thurmont is a designated Maryland Main Street Community, and with that comes a responsibility to revitalize, preserve, and create a core message of walkability, aesthetically appealing, arts & entertainment, history, culture, and commerce. Combine all of those ingredients and you have a fantastic recipe for economic and community development. With a strong downtown core, the benefits create a ripple effect throughout the entire Thurmont business community creating in the long-run, positive economic gains for all.
What kinds of great work have you been doing so far?
Many new business are not quite sure how to proceed with various permitting requirements, so we have created a book that is a great instructional resource which outlines from A-Z when starting a new business, expanding, or relocating a business. This resource is the “How” and is available at the Town Office. Another project was the creation of demographics for the Thurmont area. This tool is an invaluable resource to capture potential customers, and the needs for future businesses or services for the area. This demographic tool outlines not only certain socioeconomic statistics, but also the local culture, town accolades, tourist attractions, biking, and walkability. This demographic resource will be instrumental in identifying personal attributes for market segmentation purposes when soliciting future companies and entrepreneurs of all ages. The next undertaking has been a community needs assessment survey to gage the pulse of not only the future economic needs of the community, but also to obtain feedback on current services both public and private. This assessment survey will be going out to residents, and once the feedback is compiled, we can identify and establish a baseline for future economic and community development. An on-going process has been outreach. CAO Jim Humerick and I have reached out to possible services and businesses for potential future development in Thurmont. Sometimes you have to find them because they may not necessarily find you which is most certainly a challenge for a small town.
What does the future of economic development in Thurmont hold?
Our goal is to obviously attract new businesses to Thurmont, but also keeping a focus on attracting innovation and the arts which is the future for sustainable communities “A Creative Economy!” That said, the future is to sustain and retain our existing businesses through outreach, promotion, and identifying challenges they face especially with any type of expansion. In addition, we are looking at potential road blocks that may prevent a business from opening in Thurmont whether it be a permitting issue or a zoning issue. Not that we can control those entities, but we need to be cognizant of any challenge a potential business encounters in order to at least bring these issues to the table. Thurmont has received many designations and accolades over the years, and one more we are going to purse later this year is the Maryland Arts & Entertainment Designation. This designation would solidify our commitment to encouraging the Arts in our Main Street Area. Lastly, the future holds attracting new ideas and meeting the needs of residents and businesses through economic and community development.
To contact Ms. Grinder, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-626-9980. To learn more about Thurmont Main Street, please visit www.thurmontmainstreet.com.