There are a handful of reasons why so many business owners have chosen Frederick, Maryland, as the ideal place to set-up shop. It’s an area that is growing, thriving, vibrant and diverse. Business owners benefit from living and working in a town that is charming and close-knit, while also within an hour’s drive to two bustling metropolitan cities. Perhaps best of all, they have access to a true “A-Team” of economic development experts who are wholeheartedly committed to helping them succeed, both short and long-term. The Frederick County Office of Economic Development is led by four women who are experienced, knowledgeable and genuinely passionate about helping others realize their full potential. Collectively, they bring 84 years of experience to the table. They educate and inspire. They lead and connect. They are among the reasons why business owners pick Frederick as the town to establish their flagship, and then stay put for the long haul.
Helen Propheter, Executive Director
Helen Propheter is often overheard telling someone that she has “the very best job in all of Frederick County.” As Executive Director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, she has opportunities to connect with local business owners just about every day. Sometimes her job is to welcome a new business to the community or to take part in a milestone anniversary celebration. Other days she works in problem-solving mode, tackling one challenge after another and pulling in the resources her clients need to resolve challenges and reach their goals.
“I get to be involved with so much of what is happening in the Frederick business community and it is exciting,” says Propheter. “Economic development is all about relationships – in the good times and the bad. It’s my job to listen, help and offer value.”
Propheter has spent the majority of her life in Frederick County and always knew in her heart she was destined to stay. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s University, she landed a job with Frederick County Workforce Services, when she developed skills and built meaningful connections that ultimately paved the way for her future. In 2007, she was appointed Deputy Director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development. Four years later she was promoted to the role of Executive Director.
“It was important to create a culture where everyone on the team has a voice, and knows their role and perspective is valued,” says Propheter. “I work alongside a team of people that is mature, talented, and passionate. We are here to make a positive difference in our business community and I think we do that, every single day.”
Propheter and her husband, Doug, are parents to five children: Casey, Erin, Kate, Caitlin and Jack. The family enjoys visiting Ocean City to relax and renew, and spend fun-filled days on their boat.
Jodie Bollinger, Director of Business Retention & Expansion
Jodie Bollinger naturally gravitates toward any project that demands creativity and problem solving. She started her career working in banking and was responsible for the marketing efforts for all Delaware bank branches and part of Pennsylvania before moving to Frederick. She found her calling when she joined the Frederick County Office of Economic Development in 1996. After serving in several roles over 24 years, Bollinger was promoted to her current position of Director of Business Retention and Expansion. In this role, she leads a team that supports businesses already established in Frederick as they work to expand and grow.
“Economic Development is a team sport and we work with our economic development partners to make it easy for businesses to start, stay, and expand here,” says Bollinger. “Our team is known as the Connectors because we connect businesses with resources. We are very fortunate to have such a diverse business community and we continue to think of creative ways to provide additional resources to help them. Our businesses have been resilient, creative, and innovative during these challenging times.”
Bollinger is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing. She, her husband Sam, and their three boys – Sammy, Ryan and Adam – enjoy spending their free time in their family barn and participating in 4H shows.
Katie Stevens, Associate Director of Agriculture Business Development
Farmers play a crucial role in Frederick County. Assuring each has the ability to diversify their operations so that value-added agriculture can expand across the region is the reason Katie Stevens’ job exists. As Associate Director of Agriculture Business Development, she serves as a key point of contact for local farmers whose goals often center around serving their community as well as future generations of their own families. Stevens offers her clients perspective that is unique and personal. She was raised on a dairy farm in Frederick and still devotes much of her free time to working on the family farm alongside her father, today.
“I understand what farmers go through, and I am so committed to helping them succeed,” Stevens says. “We need to be more creative now than ever before as we look at the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture industry. Farmers have been hit hard by market changes and they are turning to us for answers. It’s very rewarding to be able to help.”
Stevens is also an instrumental resource for craft beverage entrepreneurs – an industry that is rapidly growing and garnering interest in Frederick. She actively collaborates with local legislators and elected officials to identify and generate new opportunities for these businesses to land, grow, and thrive in the County.
Stevens is a graduate of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in dairy science. She and her husband, Michael, have a young daughter named Bailee, and this spring, they will welcome twin daughters.
Beth Woodring, Director of Business Attraction & Marketing
Wondering why a business owner should consider calling Frederick County home? Beth Woodring can quickly produce a list of compelling and inspiring reasons. As Director of Business Attraction and Marketing, she positions herself as a front-line partner as business owners come into the area, looking for ways to make their mark. She supports their transition into Frederick, facilitating communication, digital marketing efforts, and introductions to prospective partners and clients along the way.
“I spend a lot of time talking with people about what makes Frederick unique and as soon as they get here, they feel it and begin experiencing it,” Woodring says. “We are a small town with a huge sense of community and connection, but with all of the benefits that come along with doing business in the city.”
Woodring joined the Frederick County Office of Economic Development in late 2019. She and her team of business development specialists are typically managing a wide range of significant projects at once, and the demand for their time and knowledge is on the rise. Interest in Frederick as an ideal place to do business has actually increased amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s safe to say no two days are the same in my world,” says Woodring. “We are facing so many new challenges, but we are tackling each in a positive way. We find ourselves saying ‘we are all in this together’ quite often. And we mean it.”
Woodring earned her bachelor’s degree at Bucknell University and holds a master’s degree in business administration from John Hopkins University. She has two adult children – Miranda and Olivia, and two rescue dogs – Suki and Jasper. She is passionate about animal rescue efforts, and enjoys hiking, gardening and reading. Determined to try new things, in January she began taking ice skating lessons.