Updated: Mar 29, 2020
According to recent statistics presented by the Garrett County Commissioners, an estimated 1,000 businesses employ roughly half of the 30,000 residents in Garrett County.
The Garrett County Democratic Club hosted the nonpartisan public meeting at Garrett College which brought out more than 90 people anxious to hear how the county is doing.
Previous Director of Economic Development and now Commissioner Jim Hinebaugh shared that the county has 910 businesses. Between those businesses the total workforce is 15,566, which he pointed out, fluctuates due to seasonal employment needs. Based on the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the county averaged 68 new businesses per year from 2014 to 2017.
“We’ve only lost about one-third of the businesses that started in 2014,” Hinebaugh said.
He noted that as many as 80 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. About one-third of Garrett County businesses started in 2014 are no longer operating, placing the county ahead of national average.
Between 2013 and 2017, Garrett County business owners made capital investments totaling about $21.5 million, according to the Maryland Department of Taxation and Assessments.
Hinebaugh said that capital investment figure was based on businesses that had applied for the county tax credit.
A list of the county's top employers and the number of residents they employ are as follows:
456 - Garrett Regional Medical Center
331 - Beitzel/Pillar
232 - ClosetMaid
220 - Wisp Resort (more than 600 during ski season)
156 - Total Biz Fulfillment
156 - Arrowhead
152 - Umbel & Umbel
150 - Smiley’s
115 - Phenix Technologies
103 - Garrett Container Systems
80 - GCC Technologies
According to studies, Hinebaugh stated that 80 percent of new jobs come from existing businesses and that this information should guide the county's focus. He shared that it’s a lot easier to help existing businesses grow than it is to recruit new businesses to the area.
The county’s top three industry sectors are trade, transportation, and utilities, which amount to about 22 percent of the number of total businesses. Leisure and hospitality services make up 15.1 percent, and education and health services, about 15 percent.
In addition, Garrett County workers are paid less than the state average in most cases. The average weekly pay in Garrett County’s trade, transportation and utilities sector is $556, compared to the state’s $850. In leisure and hospitality, the local average is $344, compared to Maryland’s $455. In education and health services, the local average weekly pay is $723, compared to $1,011.
The only sector in Hinebaugh’s chart in which local residents received a higher weekly pay was in the natural resources and mining sector: $1,142, compared to the state average of $777. He concluded that the average weekly wage in Garrett County is about 59 percent of the state weekly average.
During the question and answer portion of the presentation, The Commissioners were asked about the disparity between pay for men and women and that women in the county make 69 cents for every dollar a man makes, 13 cents less than national averages. In response, they said they were unaware of the gender inequity or how they might go about improving it.
Limited broadband access, limited affordable housing, and financial resources were some obstacles facing many rural communities according to Challenges to Growth, Opportunities for Growth and Initiatives. Areas for potential growth include health services, tourism, and retirees. Trends show that future opportunities may be found with light manufacturing, internet-based businesses, small/micro businesses, robotics, and teleworking.