Building A Better Maryland

A Better Maryland is a new development plan that provides resources and tools for the Free State's long-term economic success.

By the BF Staff
From the September/October Issue

In 2017, Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order stating that the Maryland Department of Planning—in coordination with the Smart Growth Subcabinet, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, local governments and other stakeholders—prepare a revised State Development Plan that would replace PlanMaryland, which was adopted in 2011. State agencies were to provide analysis and collaboration.

A Better Maryland
Gillespie Precast installing a storm water management system in Kent County, MD. (Photo: Kent County)

The planning strategies were to enrich the lives of Marylanders, use smart growth principles, grow responsibly and protect Maryland’s resources.

Fast forward to August 2019 and A Better Maryland was released. This, after more than 85 meetings and sessions in all 23 Maryland counties and the city of Baltimore, in which Rob McCord, state planning secretary, and his staff collected feedback from residents and local officials.

The Maryland Department of Planning site states that, “The Plan advocates for collaboration among state and local governments and all other stakeholders, providing resources and tools for the long-term economic success of Maryland.”

The plan includes 10 topics: Preserving Land; Sustaining the Environment Into the Future; Adapting and Becoming Resilient to Climate Change; Addressing Maryland’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Technology Challenges and Opportunities; Tackling the Economic Development Needs of the Next Century; Protecting Historic and Cultural Resources; Improving Economic Growth and Development in Existing Communities; Meeting Clean and Renewable Energy Goals; Creating Workforce/ Affordable Housing; and Creating Quality Places, along with the visions and objectives to achieve each topic and the agencies used to achieve them.

In addition to the feedback from the listening sessions, A Better Maryland incorporates 12 State Planning Visions which were adopted in 2009 by the Maryland General Assembly: Quality of Life and Sustainability, Public Participation, Growth Areas, Community Design, Infrastructure, Transportation, Housing, Economic Development, Environmental Protection, Resource Conservation, Stewardship and Implementation.

Gov. Hogan was clear that the document shouldn’t impose anything on local governments, but does have strategies that could help them meet the objectives in the plan, McCord said.

“We’re not telling local governments how to do it. But we’re helping them understand what can be done and, hopefully, considering the best way to do it,” McCord said.

Read on to learn about two counties in Maryland that can fit your economic development plans.


Kent County is a scenic peninsula on Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, ideally situated less than a two-hour drive from Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Annapolis, Dover and Northern Virginia. It is home to two designated Main Streets, an Arts & Entertainment District, several worldwide manufacturers, historic Washington College and one of the largest marina communities in Maryland.

A Better Maryland
Portions of US-301 and Route 213 run through Kent County—Route 301 provides easy access to Annapolis, Washington D.C. and the state of Delaware, and connects all the way to Sarasota, FL while Route 213 offers access to neighboring counties and the state of Pennsylvania, as well as connections to I-95 and Route 40. (Photo: Kent County)

Kent County is Open for Business. Kent County is actively providing incentives and workforce development tools to help businesses grow. The County has implemented a 110-mile fiber optic broadband network for high speed/gigabit connectivity. Portions of the County are located within an Opportunity Zone, Commerce Zones, an Enterprise Zone and a HUBZone. The office of Economic Development works with businesses to identify the tax credits they are entitled to for locating to, and growing within, those designated zones. The County offers access to programs including the Maryland Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (MD-PACE) Program.

Chestertown Business Campus. The Chestertown Business Campus is one of the largest economic development projects in the county’s history. The 80-acre site will be home to Dixon Valve & Coupling’s new distribution facility, new corporate headquarters, a new manufacturing facility and a new facility for the growing Kent Athletic & Wellness Center. The site also has been approved for six apartment buildings and commercial speculative space for other businesses to locate in Chestertown. Phase I of the project includes the 188,000-square-foot recently completed distribution facility. Phase II includes a 60,0000-square-foot headquarters building and is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2020.

A Gigabit County. Kent County has completed the backbone implementation of a 110-mile fiber optic backbone throughout the county. The county has entered into a public-private partnership with Kent Fiber Optic Systems (KentFOS) to provide public institutions with high-speed reliable internet access. KentFOS’ open access network allows Internet Services Providers the ability to offer 1G service to businesses and residences. The primary goal was to enhance the infrastructure needed to support new and existing businesses and organizations in Kent County, particularly affordable, robust and high capacity internet access. By taking this action, the county is expanding the competitive capability of local businesses and organizations and providing more jobs and opportunities for residents. Additionally, this infrastructure improves the ability to attract new residents and businesses to the County.

Roadway Accessibility. Kent County is situated with portions of US-301 and Route 213 running through the county. Route 301 provides easy access to Annapolis, Washington D.C. and the state of Delaware, and connects all the way to Sarasota, Florida. This roadway enables transportation for both commercial and private vehicles throughout the region and is in a designated growth area for the county. Route 213 offers access to the neighboring counties and the state of Pennsylvania, as well as connections to Interstate 95 and Route 40, enabling delivery of regional products and services throughout the state of Maryland.

A Place for Growth. Kent County’s beautiful landscape is home to several worldwide manufacturers, a thriving maritime economy, agribusiness and the arts. New businesses are opening and expanding here every day, including Benchworks, a marketing and advertising firm headquartered in Chestertown, which has received the designation of one of Inc’s 5000 list for the fifth year in a row for being one of America’s fastest-growing private companies. All of their largest manufacturers are expanding and the county welcomes new business. Businesses looking to located in Kent county can contact the Economic Development office for assistance in making their dream happen.

For more information about Kent County visit


Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Gateway to the Eastern Shore, is proud to be the home of companies that manufacture products valued and recognized worldwide, as well as being the largest producer of corn, wheat and soybeans in Maryland. Our landscape is as diverse as our business base and offers the perfect balance of metropolitan and rural. Companies such as PRS Guitars, Federal Resources, Miltec U.V. and Zodiac Milpro N.A., are located in Stevensville, the base of operations for many manufacturers, government contractors and marine trades. Centreville, the county seat, is home to Corsica Technologies and Tidewater Direct. The balance of the county is predominantly rural with crop and broiler production and its supporting businesses, such as Perdue Agribusiness and Nutrien.

Targeted industries include trade, transportation and utilities, as well as niche manufacturers, maritime and agricultural related companies. The county is included in the service area of the Baltimore No. 74 Foreign Trade Zone, which is an incentive for importers and manufacturers. Government contractors find the county’s proximity to federal laboratories and prime contractors appealing. Kent Island is the hub of activity for hospitality and tourism related businesses. Queen Anne’s County also offers highly visible, prime retail space along the US Route 50/301 corridor extending from Queenstown to Stevensville (Kent Island).

Queen Anne’s County is recognized for its high quality of life for all ages. Its acclaimed public schools and amenities, and proximity to major metropolitan areas appeal to residents, and visitors enjoy the maritime history and culture. The workforce of 27,125, within a labor market area of 374,027, is highly educated with the majority employed in the management and sales sectors.

The county is a year-round paradise for people who love the outdoors. Dominated by water, Queen Anne’s county maintains 20 public landings and 32 parks totaling 2,942 acres, with award winning nature parks and walking trails throughout the county. The most well-known public amenity is the Cross Island Trail, which extends from Stevensville to Grasonville. Matapeake Beach offers a public beach, and one for dogs, as well as access to the South Island Trail and Blue Heron Public Golf Course. Private golf courses include PGA-rated Queenstown Harbor and Hunters Oak. Tuckahoe Park and Conquest offer birdwatching, wildlife and horseback riding trails. Recreational boating, fishing and kayaking are popular activities in the Kent Narrows.

Queen Anne’s County is accessible by land, air and bay. The county is the easternmost terminus of the William Preston Lane Bridge, better known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The US Route 50/301 corridor is the backbone of transportation infrastructure for the county and provides easy access to the entire east coast via I-95 and points west via connection to major interstates. Major international airports and shipping ports are within a few hour’s drive from any point in the county. In addition to roadway infrastructure, the northern portion of the county is served by rail and the county operates the Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville. Kent Narrows is home to many commercial fishing and recreational boats.

Companies have access to the resources of Chesapeake College, Washington College and the University of Maryland. The county participates in the registered and youth apprenticeship programs, and provides access to training funding on the local and state level. The county is committed to helping businesses grow and thrive by providing local business incentives and the dedicated services of the Department of Economic and Tourism Development. Visit for a complete list of incentives and services.

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