Shore seen lagging in economic recovery

Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach welcomed recently-elected local state political leaders to campus for the University’s inaugural Legislative Breakfast. During the presentation, she discussed SU information of note with the legislators, including a snapshot of admissions and the student body, athletics, budget and upcoming capital construction projects. Pictured, from left, are Robert Sheehan, SU director of government and community relations; Delegate Charles Otto; Delegates-elect Jeff Ghrist and Chris Adams; Sheree Sample-Hughes and Johnny Mautz; Maryland Sen.-elect Addie Eckhardt; Dudley-Eshbach; and Delegates-elect Mary Beth Carozza and Carl Anderton.

Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach welcomed recently-elected local state political leaders to campus for the University’s inaugural Legislative Breakfast. During the presentation, she discussed SU information of note with the legislators, including a snapshot of admissions and the student body, athletics, budget and upcoming capital construction projects. Pictured, from left, are Robert Sheehan, SU director of government and community relations; Delegate Charles Otto; Delegates-elect Jeff Ghrist and Chris Adams; Sheree Sample-Hughes and Johnny Mautz; Maryland Sen.-elect Addie Eckhardt; Dudley-Eshbach; and Delegates-elect Mary Beth Carozza and Carl Anderton.

For the Lower Shore economy, it’s been a long, hard slough seven years running.

And, as 2015 dawns with new political leadership in Maryland and a bevy of economic challenges still to confront, the prospects for recovery remain guarded,

The slough will continue.

Speakers at the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce 27th annual Economic Forecast revealed statistics that showed the Shore counties continue to lag when compared to the rest of the state. A lack of new-business creation, coupled with a reluctance among local business to grow their payrolls, was cited as holding back the Shore economic performance.

Andrew Bauer, a senior economist at the First Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said household debt, slow employment growth, a difficult real estate market and flat wages were among the biggest Lower Shore challenges.

“Maryland is taking longer to work through the problem,” Bauer said. “A lot of job creation is due to new business creation, but what what we have seen on the Eastern Shore is a lack of business creation.”

Shore employment growth numbers were described as “weak.” Other segments of the region have benefited from an uptick in government hiring and high-tech jobs. On the Shore, however, computer and information technology positions are down; warehousing and transportation segments have improved, but not enough to offset the other areas.

Local economic guru Dr. Memo Diriker called on entrepreneurs to exercise their talents and work to create commerce, business — and employment.

“Entrepreneurship is the great equalizer,” said Diriker, the outgoing president of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. “It is equally available to all parts of our community to take the risk and do something with it.”

Said Diriker, a business professor at Salisbury University: “It is a question of whether the glass is half empty or half full. If we are optimistic and look at opportunities, we will make profits.”

At a lunch attended by each of the members of the newly elected Easter Shore delegation to the General Assembly, themes from the campaign trail continued to be repeated.

With a new governor from a minority party, and several moderates Democrats shown the exits in the last election, Annapolis could either be a place of great battles or historic cooperation in the 2015 session.

Mathew Palmer, senior vice president of government affairs for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, predicted “significant change” on multiple levels, especially in how state departments enforce regulations — which would benefit businesses.

Palmer also noted that with 58 new members of House and 11 new members of Senate — with a 91-50 Democratic advantage in the House and a 33-14 Democratic advantage in the Senate — both parties were prepared to push each other to extremes.

Referring to the two senators and six delegates in attendance, Salisbury Chamber CEO Ernie Colburn beckoned his membership with a simple request: “Put these folks to work.”

Colburn urged local business people to use their Chamber access to the elected officials to effect change. “You are their constituency — put them to use.”

He added: “We cannot fee, fine, tax or regulate our way to prosperity.We must grow our business base — that’s where it starts.

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