Kent County, Maryland-Photo Tyler Campbell
Owen Bailey April 18, 2018
We Can Do Better Than a Bridge
Small businesses are leading the way to revitalize America . . . But small businesses can’t do their important work without the support of the community they call home.
~ Quint Studer, Strong Towns
There is nothing Baltimore or any urban area has that Kent County can’t create. This is already a place where people want to live and build a home for themselves and their families and enjoy the quieter lifestyle. The struggle comes in trying to make that happen when not finding the jobs or the support needed.
Instead of building a bridge to more jobs and opportunities we can build these opportunities here by expanding on what we already have and by supporting our local small businesses. We can do that in a number of ways by creating friendly regulatory environment, a strong entrepreneurial support system, access to capital, a culture of community support, and a commitment to promoting innovation and startups that would attract more businesses to relocate to KC.
Most of these we already have in place. I can think of a few businesses in Chestertown that got their start at the Farmers’ Market. By giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to sell their goods in a low risk environment, they can build their clientele, hone their craft, and through success they can expand their business and create jobs through the strength of community support.
Where we lack in local business development is access to employee talent and support for minority entrepreneurs, but that can be fixed by offering more jobs training, and continuing to strengthen our local education system, some of which is already being done. There are a great number of local nonprofits that are working to help kids in after school programs, or help adults with their resumes. All we need is to promote and help expand these systems to activate the portions of KC that are underutilized.
As Chuck Marhon from Strong Towns argues, “the most successful communities are the ones that make the maximum use of their strengths while remaining nimble enough to react to a fast-changing, global economy. Today towns build massive amounts of infrastructure to induce new development. They do this while their existing infrastructure is underutilized and deteriorating. The current mindset also leads towns to seek the big payoff . . . Towns are ever tempted to tie their future to a big entity, diminishing their ability to change and respond to the market.”
The argument has been made that a bay bridge span from Baltimore to Kent County would create the economic development this area needs and has needed for some time. But the earliest a third bay bridge could be completed is 10 -12 years. Not only does Kent County need help now, we have all the tools required, and we can do it better.