Worcester figure eyed for Wicomico economic development post

Worcester County’s recently departed Economic Development Director could be a candidate to be the first-ever holder of a similar job in Wicomico.

Since Bill Badger resigned his Worcester position Sept. 1, the timing suggests the opportunity recently created by County Executive Bob Culver could be the next rung on Badger’s career ladder.

“I have spoken to him, yes,” Culver said Monday when asked about Badger. “We’re getting into a personnel matter, so I can’t really discuss details. I have talked to him, but we can’t even hire that person (for the new economic development dept) until Dec. 1 because it’s a legislative bill and it doesn’t take effect until then. But, yes I have talked to him.”

Badger arrived in Worcester County in November 2011 after a stint in the private sector. From 1998-2006 he served as CEO\President of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., where he gained statewide acclaim for helping lead economic development efforts. Just last year, he was inducted into the Maryland Economic Development Association Hall of Fame.

Badger said Tuesday that he isn’t on the brink of going to work for Wicomico County and did not leave Worcester to move to Wicomico.

Culver did contact him, he said, but he needs more time to decide on a future career path.

“I’m flattered we had that conversation,” he said about Culver.

“Other people have contacted me, too, but it’s still pretty fresh. It’s only been two weeks since I left Worcester County, so I’m contemplating what’s next,” he said.

Badger left the Worcester position in a bit of a huff. According to numerous news reports, Badger’s exit came in response to what — he felt — to be a resistance to some of his initiatives on the part of county department heads and staff members.

Two recent disputes concerned Badger’s desire to reduce sewer hookup fees for businesses in the Route 50 corridor between Berlin and Ocean City, and questions about which solar contractors the county should consider in its energy plans.

Culver’s efforts to create an Economic Development office as part of the county’s government hit a snag last week when County Council President John Cannon raised questions about spending plans and a lack of budget itemization.

The county is now in the public hearing phase of creating the department, which means Culver can’t officially make a hire for at least another month.

When adopting the fiscal budget in June, the County Council approved a pool of money ─ more than $600,000  ─ for economic development initiatives that would be sought by Culver and his staff.

Following historical precedent, the county has already contributed about $145,000 toward the efforts of the Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Corp., a private entity that monitors the local economy and promotes business retention and development. That leaves about $350,000 in operating funds for the county’s new economic promotion internal office.

The office would be staffed by a director and and an assistant.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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