Cham­ber din­ner high­lights Tub­man Park, tourism

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

— The Dorch­ester Cham­ber of Com­merce cel­e­brated its 71st An­nual Mem­ber­ship Din­ner Meet­ing with a strong show­ing of the county’s busi­ness com­mu­nity, led by Cham­ber Direc­tor Bill Christo­pher.

The event was hosted at the Hy­att Re­gency Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Re­sort on Thurs­day, Jan. 26. Two guest speak­ers from the Mary­land Divi­sion of Tourism, Film, and the Arts — Man­ag­ing Direc­tor Liz Fitzsim­mons and Out­reach and Part­ner- ship Co­or­di­na­tor Heather Ersts — pre­sented in­for­ma­tion about the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road State Park open­ing in Church Creek on Satur­day, March 11.

The Divi­sion of Tourism, Film, and the Arts has cre­ated a Busi­ness Tool­kit, a col­lec­tion of in­for­ma­tion about the park and the 125 mile scenic by­way, pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als, and other re­sources to help busi­nesses max­i­mize the pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pact the new park can bring to the area.

“This (park) has been the work of nearly a gen­er­a­tion of folks pas­sion­ate and want­ing to honor this great Amer­i­can icon and tell her story,” said Fitzsim­mons.

Over­all, Mar yland is do­ing quite well in the tourism sec­tor, Fitzsim­mons said, not­ing that the state has out­paced the na­tion and the re­gion in over­all growth of vis­i­tors in leisure and busi­ness travel seg­ments.

Tourism is the 10th largest pri­vate sec­tor em­ployer in Mary­land, sup­port­ing 144,000 em­ploy­ees who earned $5.7 bil­lion in wages in 2015, ac­cord­ing to Fitzsim­mons’ pre­sen­ta­tion.

Vis­i­tors to Mary­land in 2015, she said, spent $16.8 bil­lion on travel, and their spend­ing gen­er­ates $2.2 bil­lion in state and lo­cal tax rev­enue. For per­spec­tive, she added that each house­hold in the state would have to pay an ad­di­tional $1,040 in taxes to re­place the tax rev­enue gen­er­ated by vis­i­tors.

“What do we do to try to in­crease the num­ber of vis­i­tors com­ing to the state of Mary­land? One of the things we’re re­ally work­ing hard on is gen­er­at­ing part­ner­ships with the pri­vate sec­tor to drive more rev­enue and pro­vide more eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for our part­ners,” Fitzsim­mons said.

With the draw of a new state park, those num­bers should only im­prove even fur­ther in the com­ing years. The Cer­ti­fied Host By­way Busi­ness and Busi­ness Tool­kit pro­grams seek to help busi­nesses cap­i­tal­ize on the in­crease in vis­i­tors ex­pected for the new at­trac­tion.

“This is go­ing to help your area and we are here to help you help your busi­nesses ex­pand on these eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be stand­ing on your doorsteps,” said Ersts. “As all these new folks are com­ing to town, do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, they are go­ing to need ameni­ties. They’re go­ing to need lodg­ing, food, sou­venirs, gaso­line, sup­plies, and other ac­tiv­i­ties. They’re go­ing to want to ex­pand their ad­ven­ture and see other places.”

To be­come a Cer­ti­fied Host By­way Busi­ness, em­ploy­ers are asked to agree to train­ing for them­selves, cur­rent em­ploy­ees, and fu­ture new em­ploy­ees, dis­play a de­cal or poster declar­ing the es­tab­lish­ment’s’ sta­tus as a Cer­ti­fied Host Busi­ness, and pro­mo­tion of the park through dis­play­ing mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als, maps, driv­ing guides, and mak­ing sure staff is in­formed about the his­tory and sig­nif­i­cance of Har­riet Tub­man.

“The ben­e­fits of be­ing part of this pro­gram is that you get the full power of the Mary­land Of­fice of Tourism with our mar­ket­ing arm, so in­creased mar­ket­ing of your busi­ness through our prod­uct,” Ersts said.

In ad­di­tion to the spe­cial guest speak­ers, Cham­ber Board Pres­i­dent Jeff Hub­bard in­tro­duced three new board mem­bers — Jer­maine An­der­son of Liv Again and the Art Bar, Scott Dorsey of RAMS, and Ed­die James of Koski En­ter­prises, Inc.

The three new mem­bers join the rest of the sit­ting Board of Di­rec­tors, Hub­bard, Gerry Boyle of Ben­son and Man­gold and Iron­man MD, Dave Can­non of the Dorch­ester Ban­ner and Cam­bridge City Coun­cil, Phili­cia Drayon of 5 9 Tags and Ti­tle Agency, Kevin Hill of Hill-Kim­mel Con­tract­ing, Lu­cie Hughes Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, Denny Jones of At­lantic Trac­tor, Adam Shell­hamer of BDK IT Solutions, Sharon Sped­den of Sharon Real Es­tate, and Randy Thomp­son of the Hy­att Re­gency Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Re­sort.

Spon­sors of the event in­cluded Cam­bridge Mar­ket­place, Lay­ton’s Chance Win­ery, Cam­bridge Fam­ily Eye Care and Mid-Shore Score.

PHOTO BY VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE

Mary­land Divi­sion of Tourism, Film, and the Arts Man­ag­ing Direc­tor Liz Fitzsim­mons high­lights the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road State Park at the Dorch­ester Cham­ber of Com­merce an­nual din­ner Thurs­day, Jan. 26.

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