What's The Plan?
You'll never get to a destination without directions. The same is true when driving an economy. Garrett County residents deserves a strong tax base to maintain essential infrastructure that makes up a pleasant, sustainable lifestyle. Garrett County has been reactive rather than proactive when it comes to economics. A viable plan with established benchmarks is a the very core of a successful economy.
Engage Mountain Maryland is proposing that the Garrett County Commissioners employ economics experts to review what's working and identify shortfalls in the local economy so planning goals and strategies can be developed and met.
The business world is changing at a rapid pace and understanding how to localize a global economy is paramount to be relevant. Identifying thriving markets, compatible industries, and business that enhance our tourism and agricultural roots will ignite calculated county-wide growth.
Whether it's attracting broadband connected businesses, expanding emerging healthcare needs, capitalizing on destination events, developing exports, or integrating research and development firms, Garrett County provides room, affordability, and untapped potential for new or expanding businesses.
Increased Funding and Preserving Community Schools.
A proper education has a direct positive impact on communities and the futures of their youth. Staying competitive in a modern society takes proper funding and a nurturing environment that involves teaching staff and support staff, parents, and students all working toward a common goal.
The Kirwan Report makes a recommendation to aggressively increase funding statewide to level the playing field for all students, regardless of where they live. This is particularly important for Garrett County students who live in an area where the median income is one of the lowest in Maryland. Under the proposal, each student across the state has the potential to find success through a first-rate education that will keep them excelling regardless of social status.
The Maryland General Assembly passed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, adding $1.1 billion in new funding to strengthen our schools over the next three years. The Kirwan recommendations will go before the 2020 General Assembly for a vote to request additional school funding over the next 10 years. The funding will include expanding career technical education, additional support for struggling learners, universal pre-K, and provide teachers with a much needed pay raise
Community Schools Matter
Small schools in Garrett County are repeatedly viewed as disposable when funding is tight. The ripple effect of closing community schools goes well beyond trimming the budget. Property values can plummet if a local school is shuttered and a common bond for the community is shattered.
Crellin Elementary School is a wonderful example of how a small, community school can do big things through the support of parents, students, local businesses, and teaching staff. Wings of a Dove, the documentary, shines a light on how small schools can inspire big dreams.
Connecting People & Places
Access to work, school, doctor appointments, and social events is a critical part of any thriving community. In densely populated urban areas, public transportation is an integral part of connecting people to places. In rural areas, distances can be greater and private transportation is the only way to get around. This can cause a deep divide in certain opportunities for those who don't have their own mode of transport.
Garrett County has had cab services come and go through private companies or through Uber drivers. Service is unpredictable and at the whim of drivers who may opt-out of operating at any given time.
Garrett Transit Service, (GTS) is technically defined by the state as a Demand Response System as opposed to a Fixed Route system which the State also funds. GTS utilizes automatic vehicle locators which allow dispatchers to identify the location and travel speed of each bus. This is accomplished with iPad tablets and a cellular connection. A driver’s manifest can be updated anytime throughout the day. This is a resource that does potentially allow for GTS to be able to take spontaneous, last-minute calls for a ride that may not have been previously scheduled, and it does happen from time to time.
It's imperative that Garrett County work with local and state agencies to meet unattended transportation needs that will fill the gap in current services. Keeping residents connected to work, important appointments, or accessing local resources is all part of a thriving community.