Turning Dirt - Economy Springs Forth in St. Mary's

Commentary by Bob Schaller, Dept. of Economic Development, St. Mary's County

April is here with warmer weather, the greenest of greens, the birds chirping, the crabs running, the longer days, and a renewed sense of hope and promise. Tractors are out preparing fields, and will soon plow, till, and plant the new season's crops. Watermen are readying their boats, crab pots, and other tools of the trade for this year's catch. Builders are slowly but surely working at job sites. The job site signs are fewer than years past, but the equipment and delivery trucks are definitely more noticeable now than last year. A few new houses in a growing community, a new commercial building in an older shopping center, a church at a convenient spot in an older part of the County, a renovation of an existing office building for a new tenant, and of course the next restaurant pad near the Olive Garden. All are signals of new and renewed business. All involve turning dirt (or water), both the most basic elements of development.

There are certainly more resources involved in production, workforce being the most important. As stated often, our workforce is second to none in skill, talent, and ethic. Our workers help propel the county and region to levels of accomplishment that are increasingly catching the attention around the state and country. The proof is in the numbers. All the new Census data, whether in population growth, birth rates, workforce, wages, median income, and more, point to St. Mary's and Southern Maryland as THE place to be. It's where stuff is happening. Just leave for a while to see other places, then return.

But statistics don't tell the whole story, and can be manipulated for convenience. Mark Twain popularized the notion of three types of lies, "lies, damned lies, and statistics." What's important is what the statistics represent, namely the people, the citizenry of our county. Whether it's the workers, business owners, people reading (or not reading) this column, the customers, the leaders of organizations private and public, etc., it is the result of all their efforts that's reflected in the numbers. Their actions everyday make the economy go. By definition, they also turn dirt.

So take note when you see dirt turned. Thank the turner for starting something. Thank you for turning dirt everyday. Who knows, you might hit pay dirt. We're hoping you do.

If you are a locally owned and/or operated small independent business in St. Mary's County, we are holding our 4th Small Independent Business Roundtable hosted at Lenny's Restaurant on Monday, April 12, 2010 8:30-10:00am. It's free and a great opportunity to meet other business owners and learn what's going on in the small independent business sector. For more information on the roundtable or anything related to this please contact us at 301-475-4200 x1400 or at decd@stmarysmd.com.

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