Implementation part of regional economic development project to foster outdoor industry growth
Allegany and Garrett counties in Western Maryland are proud to announce the launch of their regional business and workforce attraction initiative – Make it! In the Mountains, a marketing initiative developed to attract lifestyle manufacturing companies to the region, which can be viewed through the newly launched website - MakeItInTheMountains.com.
In January of 2022, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded Allegany County Government, Garrett County Government, and the Maryland Department of Commerce a $75,000 grant for the organizations’ joint application - Elevating the Outdoors: A Regional Approach to Growing Western Maryland’s Outdoor Economy. The funding for the project supported the development of a regional recruitment and strategic plan to attract outdoor recreation/lifestyle manufacturing to locate, expand, and grow in Western Maryland.
“We are excited to see the launch of this new initiative, which highlights the benefits of doing business in Western Maryland,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson. “The work being done between these two counties will raise awareness of the region’s strengths while driving business investment and tourism spending dollars in the area.”
The project comes at the heels of released recommendations included in the State of Maryland’s Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic (MORE) Commission report, which was released in December of 2019. One of the commission’s highlighted recommendations included addressing the need for a recruitment plan to attract outdoor lifestyle manufacturers, such as kayak, boat, bicycle, and ATV companies, to locate and grow in Maryland.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for our two counties, which have an excellent history of collaboration and working together, to further our marketing to manufacturing companies that fit in the outdoor recreational space,” said Paul C. Edwards, Chairman, Garrett County Commissioners. “There is no better place in the entire state of Maryland to try to attract companies that rely on quality outdoor assets for their products, as well as have a need for high quality and dedicated employees.”
Allegany and Garrett counties are gateway communities, home to over 150,000 acres of public land, 31% of the entire state’s owned acreage. With over 600 miles of developed trail systems, one National Park, 3 state forests, and 15 state parks, Western Maryland has the ability to leverage economic and community development through its growing outdoor economy and access to natural resources.
The project produced a manufacturing analysis, a tourism analysis, and a strategic/recruitment plan that included implementation deliverables such as the launch of the website - MakeItInTheMountains.com.
“This campaign has empowered Allegany and Garrett counties to utilize their access to natural resources as a powerful marketing tool for economic development,” said Ashli Workman, Director of Tourism for Allegany County and workgroup member. “Allegany and Garrett counties are working together on a regional scale to attract business and workforce development, utilizing one of our common strengths, the outdoors.”
Allegany County Government, Garrett County Government, and the State of Maryland Department of Commerce funded the match for the project. The workgroup, which consisted of staff from the funding agencies, included: Jeffrey Barclay, Director for Economic and Community Development (Allegany County); Kim Durst, Manager of Business Development (Garrett County); Marci Ross, Senior Assistant Director for Maryland Tourism Development; Andrew Sargent, Senior Business Development Representative Department of Commerce; Siera Wigfield, Senior Planner (Garrett County); and Ashli Workman, Director of Tourism (Allegany County). Steve Kelly, Director of Community Development
(Garrett County), and Sarah Duck, Vice President of Tourism & Marketing at the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce (Garrett County), assisted with the project’s marketing committee. Downstream Strategies and InnerAction Media from Morgantown, WV, served as the project consultants.
Copies of the manufacturing analysis, tourism analysis, and strategic/recruitment plan can be found at MakeItInTheMountains.com.