Summit

Students looking to enter the workforce following high school can get exposed to industries like small engine repair with a maritime focus.

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce and county commissioners are only weeks away from the Project Bright Future Summit at Chesapeake College on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The meeting will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. and will include representatives from Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Kent, Caroline, and Dorchester counties all discussing the various ways businesses and educators can collaborate to bolster the workforce for emerging industries on the Eastern Shore.

The event is free to the public and will allow visitors to learn about career opportunities through programs such as youth apprenticeships, dual enrollment, and participation in career technology education.

“Workforce has become a huge issue for anyone in business and one of the links missing is our educators,” said Linda Friday, president of the Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce. “I reached out to Dr. Andrea Kane, the superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Schools, and asked if we could invite them to meet the business community.”

The summit, taking place at the Todd Performing Arts Center, is another of many initiatives started by the Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce to grow the business sector for residents. The current business portfolio boasts a high number of manufacturing jobs.

Tours of the such businesses starting in 2018 were taken by members of the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education, county commissioners, and state dignitaries to get a better concept of the employee of the future.

Among the goals of the summit is to identify how institutions of learning can teach technical and manufacturing skills to students not looking to a traditional college degree.

According to Queen Anne’s County Economic Development data, private sector industries generate $1.2 billion in economic output.

“Making sure you have basic skills, like showing up for work on time and ready to deal with the public, is so important. These are skills being taught right now at Chesapeake College for small engine repair and the welding program,” Friday said.

To continue the trend, the county has implemented a number of incentives to encourage entrepreneurs to start or invest in the growth of their businesses. That includes integrating a workforce already equipped with a base skill set that allows companies to thrive.

The Economic Development Incentive Fund is available to individuals and businesses interested in starting a new business, expanding an existing business, or relocating operations to Queen Anne’s County.

Strong consideration is given to those businesses that fall within the industries of advanced manufacturing, agriculture and seafood, technology, hospitality, and tourism. The county’s workforce of over 26,000 is the largest on the Eastern Shore, according to Queen Anne’s County Economic Development office, and has a labor participation rate of 68.4 percent, which ranks among the top half of Maryland’s counties.

“I want our students to know there are opportunities out there in whatever industry they like, and they don’t have to go into debt to do it. Our panel will focus on those opportunities so parents can hear that it’s fine if their children have chosen a path of career over college,” Friday said.

The Project Bright Future Summit looks to attract students and their families interested in careers via skilled trades and technology training.

Registration for the event is available at www.projectbrightfuturesummit.eventbrite.com. More information is available from the Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce, call 410-643-8530.

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