Ernie Colburn: Economic development is at the center of everything we do

As we hit stride of mid-summer with the celebration of our country’s independence, it gives us the opportunity to look back on those things we’re grateful to have, like our freedom and it’s also a time to look ahead to what’s down the road for Wicomico County and the city of Salisbury.


I include both the city of Salisbury and Wicomico County in the same breath, as one can’t succeed without the other.

The city is the heart of the county. It’s the economic engine that pumps life into our county and the communities that surround it.

I’ve witnessed in the past few years from my position here at the Chamber, a new desire and sense of cooperation between these two powerhouses. Yes, on occasion, one will go off on the other for some reason or another, but at the end of the day, they both want to same things: economic growth, jobs, and that sense of pride that comes from doing something that’s beneficial to the good of all.

Economic development is at the center of everything we do.

The first thing we must do is “identify our identity” something both the county AND the city of Salisbury will need to agree upon. This phase is a prerequisite before Branding and Marketing.

Our infrastructure is in place: second-largest port in Maryland, second-largest airport in Maryland with commercial passenger flight service, the convergence of two major highways (Routes 13 and 50), and in-place rail service.

Now we must:

  • Identify our target audience.
  • Create economic stimulus and incentives.
  • Identify what rules and/or regulations we need to clear out of the way of success in attracting new business and expansion of existing businesses. thus creating “action” steps to get to where we want to be 5-10-20 years from now.
  • Several of our great attractions/strengths are outstanding medical care, higher education institutional presence, regional center for economic activity including the shopping retail hub of the lower shore, rich agricultural base, and a diverse economic base overall.

It’s easier said than done for sure, however, we need to be visionaries … look beyond what’s right in front of us.

Every day, I run into one of those type people that I label P.A.V.E. ( People Against Virtually Everything) — you can’t do this … you can’t do that … .

Well, I say: “can’t never did anything!”

I also realize that there will be bumps in the road along the way. There will be failures but with each failure, we’re one step closer to success. Let’s get one small win and build on that win with more successes. Talk up those success stories.

We can’t be ubiquitous. We need to be specific in what we say, plan and do moving forward. Our opportunity is NOW.

Let’s seize it and rise above the nay-sayers, and let’s build our future starting today as we continue to celebrate our independence.

Ernie Colburn is CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce.


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