Tilghman named economic development director
CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Commissioners recently announced the appointment of Paige Tilghman as the director for the Office of Economic Development. Tilghman’s primary responsibilities will be to manage the business retention, expansion and attraction activities for the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners under the direction of County Administrator Gregg Todd.
Commissioner Robert Buckey said, “I am very pleased to welcome Paige Tilghman as the new economic development director for Queen Anne’s County. And as the Commissioners’ economic development liaison I am looking forward to working with her.”
Tilghman will join the county in supporting business growth and opportunity, working toward better infrastructure and enhancing the quality of life in Queen Anne’s County. Tilghman said she and the commissioners have some goals they hope to accomplish before year end, including reviewing the work plan and Economic Development Strategy Plan. Once a work plan is fully developed, said Tilghman, they will then develop a marketing plan.
As director, Tilghman will continue to work with Jean Fabi as the Queen Anne’s County business development coordinator. Fabi served as interim director when Jamie Gilbert stepped down.
“She [Fabi] provides a wealth of information and expertise in both the business retention and expansion disciplines and as an interface with the Planning Department,” said Tilghman.
There are six areas the county has chosen to focus on adapted from the Queen Anne’s Economic Development 10-Year Strategic Plan, Tilghman said. They include Driving Strategy 1: Focusing on High Potential Economic Activity Sectors; Driving Strategy 2: Supporting Education and Workforce Development; Driving Strategy 3: Enhancing Infrastructure; Driving Strategy 4: Promotion and Public Awareness; Driving Strategy 5: Encourage Affordable and Workforce Housing; and Driving Strategy 6: Enhancing Quality of Life.
According to Tilghman’s biography, she has invested the majority of her career in state and county economic development positions and has developed an extensive network of government, private sector and nonprofit professionals to support development efforts. She most recently served as the director for the Talbot County Office of Economic Development where she successfully completed several business expansion and retention projects for local companies.
Serving with the Maryland Department of Commerce (formerly the Office of Business and Economic Development), Tilghman was responsible for managing Regional Offices including the eight counties of the Eastern Shore and the Southern and Mid-Maryland Regional Offices. Her work included oversight for the retention of the regional business base and the brokering of state and federal resources to impact job growth and investment.
Tighlman said one aspect of EDC’s plan looks at the retention of the existing business base and helping them expand. The plan also looks at bringing in new business and what those businesses can add to the county. There is significant interest in high tech manufacturing and also marine technology, as well as agriculture and agriculture production.
Agriculture is a predominant business in the northern part of the county, said Tilghman, and the commissioners are interested in exploring growth [of those agriculture businesses] and supporting development. The need for infrastructure will be a consideration also when looking at the northern part of the county, said Tilghman.
There will be some internal housekeeping as well, she said, looking at how existing resources can be used more efficiently.
Tilghman’s experience early in her career was devoted to workforce development and corporate training projects throughout the state. She completed a Master’s of Science degree in Technology Management from the University of Maryland, University College and a Bachelor of A&S degree from Catholic University of America in Washington DC. Tilghman resides with her husband Ben in Centreville.
During Fabi’s tenure, Tilghman said, Fabi was able to successfully submit applications and receive approval for an Enterprise Zone designation in Queen Anne’s County — a 1,300-acre area that extends west from Nesbit Road in Grasonville to Route 8 in Stevensville and includes a majority of the commercial properties in Grasonville, Chester and Stevensville.
The Enterprise Zone enables businesses to claim tax credits for hiring members of targeted groups and for conducting business in specifically designated areas. With this designation, the county, in partnership with the state, will be able to promote job creation to increase the commercial tax base and redevelop under-used or vacant commercial and industrial land in the county, she said.
Fabi also serves as the economic development liaison to the planning department and is instrumental in supporting the development process for expanding businesses or new commercial development, Tilghman added.
Fabi and Tilghman are coordinating their efforts to provide a timely and unified source of information, referrals and resources to support the retention and growth of the existing business base of the county. Both will work with the county’s Economic Development Commission, which advises the commissioners on economic development matters.
The Economic Development Commission meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. at the Chesapeake Heritage Visitor Center, 425 Piney Narrow Road in Chester, and meetings are open to the public. There will be no meeting in July.
Tilghman and Fabi are available to call on businesses to discuss retention and expansion strategies. For more information, call 410604-2013.