St. Mary's Co. Gov. News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

St. Mary's Co. Gov. News Briefs

Consultant Selected to Develop County's Tourism and Hospitality Master Plan

The St. Mary's County Department of Economic Development (DED) and the St. Mary's County Chamber of Commerce are working to create the first Tourism & Hospitality Master Plan for St. Mary's County. This undertaking is part of the larger Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy now underway, and as such, illustrates the important role tourism is projected to play in the County's future. The Master Planning process will be led by staff of DED's Tourism Division.

The Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) has been awarded the consulting contract for development of the Tourism and Hospitality Master Plan. SAG, headquartered in Atlanta, has extensive experience working nationally and internationally on marketing and branding initiatives, tourism and hospitality site and infrastructure development, and sports and convention projects. The firm's tourism marketing and strategic planning efforts include projects for Atlantic City, Denver and Charlotte.

The County's Tourism and Hospitality Industry includes visitor attractions such as museums, parks, wineries, agro-tourism sites and sports venues, and amenities such as hotels, restaurants, marinas, and golf courses, as well as a variety of local businesses. Spending by visitors at these locations contributes over $131 million dollars to the local economy and is an important factor in attracting new and retaining existing businesses in St. Mary's County. Enhancing the quality and variety of the County's recreational opportunities, destinations and events, and ensuring the hospitality business community and local infrastructure can meet future demands; will depend on a well-reasoned comprehensive strategy.

The Master Planning process will begin with a research and analysis phase during which the current state of the local Tourism and Hospitality Industry will be reviewed, strengths and challenges identified, and the County's competitiveness as a visitor destination assessed. Prospective markets and areas for growth and development will also be identified. The plan will grow out of those findings and will provide a roadmap for tourism development that is specific to St. Mary's County. A subcomponent of the plan will be a "South County Action Plan" to kick-start tourism growth in the southern portion of the County.

Local businesses and Tourism and Hospitality Industry stakeholders will play a critical role throughout the process. The Plan is expected to take from six to eight months to complete. For more information about the Tourism and Hospitality Master Plan, contact Carolyn Laray, Manager, Tourism Division, DED at 301-475-4200 ext. 1404 or

University of Maryland Extension and St. Mary's County to Offer Rain Barrel Workshops

Citizens seeking a simple way to conserve water and do something good for the environment can consider installing a rain barrel...or two!

The University of Maryland Extension Program, in cooperation with St. Mary's County Government, is offering two workshops on the practical uses for rain barrels and how they can reduce the impact of runoff on our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

The workshops will be held Thursday, July 30, from 6 - 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 1 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Agricultural Services Building, 26737 Radio Station Way, Suite E-2, Leonardtown MD.

The workshop is hands-on and participants will have the opportunity to construct and take home their own rain barrels and learn installation techniques. Pre-registration is required, as space is limited. Attendance is free, however there is a cost of $70 to purchase each rain barrel. For more details on rain barrel options, or to register online for this event, please visit (*additional service fees associated with online registration). Deadline to register is July 28.

For more information please contact Jackie Takacs, 240-393-6508 or Nicole Basenback, 240-390-4189.

St Mary's County Set to Host First Responders Drone Demonstration

St Mary's County Government and St. Mary's County Public Schools will host a First Responders Drone Symposium on Tuesday, August 4 at the CAPT Walter F. Duke Elementary School in Leonardtown. The symposium will include presentations and live demonstrations of drone use for fire and rescue services and police operations.

The goal of the symposium is to provide an opportunity for First Responders to learn how unmanned systems technology can be used in emergency operations. This will be demonstrated during a simulated police raid and a controlled burn of a vacant building. The controlled burn will be managed by the St. Mary's County Fire Chief with assistance from the Leonardtown and Hollywood Volunteer Fire Departments. The public may see smoke rising from the site of the demonstration. As a result of the demonstration, school registration at the Duke Elementary School will not be available.

Local businesses supporting the event include Aviation Systems Engineering Company (ASEC), leading the drone demonstration effort; and Smartronix, Inc., providing integrated radio, data, and video communications capability. Both locally headquartered companies have partnered with the County to provide technical assistance for the drone demonstrations and will provide presentations on the use of this advanced technology by First Responders.

Unmanned system technology and services are forecast to experience dramatic growth and will likely improve commerce, enhance public safety, and create new opportunities for research and testing. According to Business Insider's 2015 drone market report, $15 billion will be spent on commercial applications, including unmanned systems research and development, software and hardware.

St. Mary's County is well positioned to participate in this emerging market sector which promises new business development and local job growth. A University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft System Test Site is located at the St. Mary's County Regional Airport; and in several years, the County anticipates that a University System of Maryland research facility will be constructed on the campus of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Maryland. This will create the State's first and only campus for research and development and test and evaluation for unmanned systems, making St. Mary's County a leader in the unmanned and autonomous systems' industry nationwide.

For more information regarding the First Responders Drone Symposium, contact Robin Finnacom, Deputy Director, St. Mary's County Department of Economic Development, at 301-475-4200, ext. 1407 or via email at

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