Maryland: Expanding Opportunity For An Expanding Workforce

Maryland has dedicated $56.5 million to attract new businesses to its Opportunity zones. MD also has extended a 10-year tax credit for jobs created in the zones.

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2019 Issue

Gov. Larry Hogan recently signed major legislation to advance one of his top priorities: bringing jobs and businesses to underserved communities. Senate Bill 581 extends benefits under the Hogan administration’s landmark More Jobs For Marylanders program to the state’s 149 Opportunity Zones, according to a press release posted on the governor’s website.

The governor highlighted this initiative in his State of the State address. “We are pleased to enact this major legislation to help foster an environment of economic opportunity, create thousands of jobs and revitalize the Maryland communities that need our help the most,” Hogan said. “We will supercharge investment and make Maryland’s 149 Opportunity Zones the most competitive ones in America.”

Hogan’s More Jobs for Marylanders program was enacted two years ago, and further expanded last year, to offer manufacturing companies that grow or expand in the state to be eligible for tax incentives. The legislation the governor signed last month extends those same benefits to all businesses that locate or expand in Maryland’s Opportunity Zones.

“The legislation enacted today further solidifies Maryland’s status as a national leader in implementing the Opportunity Zones program,” said Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, chair of the Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force. “Our administration is taking every action to ensure that this program truly makes a difference in the communities that need it the most.”

Additionally, this legislation paves the way for jurisdictions to offer a property tax credit for vacant properties in Opportunity Zones that are put back into use. Through the Department of Commerce, it also makes additional tax credits available to businesses that take part in the Opportunity Zone program.

In January, Hogan announced that a total of $56.5 million would be dedicated to attracting new businesses and development and continuing to invest in Maryland’s workforce.

The governor made the January announcement at Walbrook Mill—a 41,000-square-foot active construction site located in a designated Opportunity Zone in Baltimore City, and future home of 140 apartments and townhomes, retail and commercial space, warehouse and light industrial usage on North Avenue.

The Opportunity Zone announcements “strengthen our focus on, and steadfast commitment to, renewing hope and opportunity in every corner of our state,” said Hogan, according to a press release posted on the governor’s website. “These initiatives will foster an environment of economic opportunity to create thousands of new Maryland jobs and to transform and revitalize the cities, towns and local communities that need our help the most.”

As one of his first acts of business in 2019, Hogan in January signed Executive Order 01.01.2019.01, which creates the Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force. The task force will host regional summits throughout the state for local stakeholders to share information and discuss possibilities for Opportunity Zones. The task force will develop a State Opportunity Plan to align Opportunity Zone goals with state economic and cultural priorities, which will include partnering with local governments to effectively leverage local assets to fast-track investment and development.

Gov. Hogan also announced that the administration will introduce the More Opportunities for Marylanders Act of 2019 to extend a 10-year tax credit for each new job created by a company that locates or expands in a Maryland Opportunity Zone. These companies will also be eligible for an additional $6 million in tax credits, have 100 percent of their state property taxes exempted and have all business recording, filing or special fees waived.

Maryland’s nationally recognized EARN workforce development grant program will now focus directly on the state’s 149 Opportunity Zones with a new investment of $3 million to establish “Opportunity Works”—a job training program specifically for businesses that are located in Opportunity Zones.


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.

Maryland Opportunity Zones
Chestertown Business Campus: Dixon’s Distribution Center 188,000 sq. ft., pictured above. LaMotte’s 9,000 sq. ft. expansion, pictured below. (Photos: Kent County Economic Development)

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 Commerce Zones, an Opportunity Zone, 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, the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MD MEP) and the ExportMD Program.

Maryland Opportunity ZonesKent County is home to a wide variety of businesses in industries including manufacturing, aquaculture, agriculture, health services, education, maritime, culinary and professional services. Several of the major employers are world-wide manufacturers and the county is home to several large business parks including the Kent County Business Park at Worton, the Radcliffe Creek Business & professional Park and the Interstate 301 Industrial Area. The region has access to a workforce close to 500,000 within a 30-minute drive and the unemployment rate continues to be below the national average. County businesses benefit from county corporate income tax exemption, low personal income tax and a variety of tax credits making it a profitable place to do business.

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 has also 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.

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 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.

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 Maryland.

With over 350 active farms, Kent County is a supplier of grain, corn, produce, feed, diary, beef, poultry, fowl and equine resources. The county is home to Red Acres Hydroponics that proudly operates as a 6th generation Century Farm. Red Acres’ produce is grown with hydroponic technology that eliminates the use of dirt and pesticides and their produce is sold in over 20 restaurants on the eastern shore. Kent County also is home to Orchard Point Oyster Company, an aquaculture business operated out of Rock Hall that harvests oysters in an environmentally sustainable manner while delivering consistent quality oysters to the consumer. Of the many agriculturally based business, the businesses and citizens of Kent County are dedicated to providing products and services in an environmentally responsible manner to sustain the way of life that has flourished here for over 365 years.

The incorporated towns of Chestertown, Galena and Millington are home to designated growth areas for expansion of commercial and residential development. The towns are all sustainable communities that offer businesses access to infrastructure, workforce and a quality of life unrivalled in other parts of the state. In the surrounding areas, the county has declared a commitment to sustainable growth to assist each of the municipalities in their growth. The county also works closely with real estate professionals to maintain a Commercial Property Database so perspective buyers can review available options.


Home to industrious, innovative and creative individuals, Dorchester County’s landscape defines not only where—but who we are. Shaped and surrounded by water, our community reflects the character and culture of all who live, work and are lured to this place of incomparable beauty. Discover an authentic Chesapeake lifestyle on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Dorchester County boasts attractive and affordable housing options from waterfront estates to rural developments and city condos, townhouses and apartments. Local amenities include shops, restaurants, parks, marinas and public entertainment venues within walking or biking distance.

Cambridge—Dorchester’s County seat—is an authentic seaport community on the shores of the Choptank River. The city’s rich maritime heritage and working waterfront are on display along the shores where watermen, sail makers, ship chandlers and boat captains make their living among the museums, restaurants and attractions.

Dorchester County boasts more than 1,700 miles of shoreline, world-renowned manufacturing pioneers and an entrepreneurial culture drawn by the waterfront ‘way of life.’ Our close proximity to the Washington D.C.- Baltimore corridor, coupled with affordable real estate and lower cost of living, has put Dorchester on the map as a prime location for companies from a variety of industries. Competitive cost advantages, excellent quality of life and affordable housing options are just a few of the location attributes the county offers.

Dorchester is a welcoming community ready to offer a helping hand to businesses looking to locate or grow here. We are committed to building a strong infrastructure for businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive.

As economic development ombudsmen, we can facilitate introductions, identify appropriate resources and assist you in navigating local, state or federal opportunities. We are familiar with the county’s commercial real estate landscape and can help you locate property to start or expand your business. We offer site tours and can consult with you on finance opportunities and permitting processes. Our team is dedicated to creating an environment where businesses succeed.

Dorchester also offers a business incubator, the Eastern Shore Innovation Center (ESIC), for tech start-ups. Businesses must be in their first through fifth year to qualify as a tenant and have a technology component. ESIC offers shared resources, a co-working space and mentorship. Leases are set for two years with a possible two year extension. Currently there are nine businesses located in the incubator.

The ESIC is located inside the Dorchester Regional Technology Park. The Park is 113 acres with 12 lots available. The lots range in size from four to five acres and have water and sewer available with a starting asking price of $23,000 an acre.