Harford County Business Appreciation Week
“Thank you!” “Great Job!” “Kudos!” The air was alive with gratitude and celebration during the ninth annual Business Appreciation Week, Sept. 19-23. More than 60 Harford County businesses received recognition and thanks from Harford County officials during personal visits and special events spearheaded by the Harford County Office of Economic Development (OED).
“Business Appreciation Week is an opportunity to recognize the healthy business climate in Harford County,” says OED Director Karen Holt. “We personally visit small, medium and large businesses to acknowledge their commitment to Harford County and to celebrate milestones with them. We always try to show appreciation for our businesses, but this week we enjoy getting out into the community with the sole focus of sharing with them our gratitude for their support of Harford County.”
Since its inception in 2007, Business Appreciation Week has not only recognized business contributions to the local economy, it has also strengthened the county’s relationship with individual businesses and given owners the chance to share challenges, tout successes and learn more about the resources OED offers to support local businesses. The celebration is designed to spotlight the economic strength that results from the jobs these businesses provide to the county, the support they offer to non-profit groups, and the valuable goods and services they make available to area residents and visitors.
“Harford County businesses are essential to our quality of life,” says County Executive Barry Glassman. “In addition to providing goods and services we need and want, businesses create jobs and give back to the community. To help them succeed, my administration is streamlining processes and reaching out with resources year-round. We are also proud to support Business Appreciation Week. We want businesses to know they are welcome in Harford County.”
County Executive Glassman joined Holt, OED staff members and members of the Harford County Council and the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) to canvas the county, talking to a wide variety of businesses. Led by senior business development associates covering various zones of the county, Holt explains that these visits encompassed a door-to-door approach, touching small, family-owned businesses, as well as larger companies in defense, health care, retail, real estate, law, restaurants, entertainment and commercial equipment. The teams presented each business with a certificate of recognition for its commitment to Harford County. Also, companies celebrating a milestone year of 25, 40, 50 or 100-plus years received a special county plaque.
Holt notes, “We had two companies commemorating 100-plus years in Harford County, and we were honored to share those celebrations with them.” They were Walter G. Coale, Inc., in Churchville, and Tarring-Cargo Funeral Home in Aberdeen.
In addition to personal onsite visits, OED hosted special events throughout the week targeted to the needs of specific industries. The week kicked off on Monday with the Harford Hospitality Luncheon. Focusing on tourism in Harford County, hoteliers were invited to attend and participate in a tourism discussion led by OED in partnership with VisitHarford! It included feedback on the lodging tax implemented in 2015, which provides funds to non-profit tourism entities for tourism-related operations and programs through a competitive grant program. “We wanted to thank them for being an integral part of Harford County and their impact on the increased revenues for tourism support,” says Holt. A recognition program concluded the event with awards presented by County Executive Glassman.
On Wednesday, a Business Leadership Breakfast at Enotria Restaurant & Grill in Forest Hill offered tenants of Bynum Run Business Park, Forest Hill Business Airpark and Forest Hill Business Park an opportunity to meet their neighbors and learn more about the various businesses within the park. The Business Leadership Breakfast is an ongoing series held bi-annually with a selected Harford County business park to encourage networking among the tenants.
OED collaborated with the Susquehanna Workforce Network on Thursday to host a focus group for large companies in both Harford and Cecil counties. Economist Anirban Basu mediated the group roundtable on workforce challenges and opportunities facing company leaders with 75 or more employees. The group was encouraged to provide information on its needs for a career-ready workforce. “SWN will be able to use this feedback to enrich its programs and continue to be a powerhouse for workforce readiness in the county,” Holt notes.
The prestigious Harford Awards, a premiere red-carpet event spotlighting top businesses in Harford County was held on Thursday at the Water’s Edge Events Center. Sponsored by the Harford County Chamber of Commerce, awards were presented to businesses from a variety of sectors, including technology, health care and entrepreneurs. The exclusive event gave 250 guests the opportunity to congratulate and celebrate some of the county’s most influential and groundbreaking businesses. Harford Award winners are: Altus Engineering, Entrepreneur Award; BSC America (Bel Air Auto Auction), Service Award; Chesapeake Testing, R&D/Technology/Manufacturing & Distribution Award; Freedom Federal Credit Union, Retail Award; Kaufman Cancer Center, Non-Profit Award; and Ladew Topiary Gardens, Hospitality/Tourism Award.
On Friday afternoon, a celebration for Business Appreciation Week at Independent Brewing Company highlighted the growing craft-brewing industry and the opportunities in this burgeoning market. Attendance by all county businesses was encouraged, and the event drew a lively crowd.
“We saw over 87 businesses throughout the week,” Holt says. “We applauded so many successes and thanked participants for their input during our visits. Our discussions reinforced the strength of the county’s economic system, as well as the reasons so many businesses want to call Harford County home – from location to workforce readiness.”
Support for local businesses didn’t end at the close of the week. In fact, The GroundFloor, the organization that strives to connect entrepreneurs and start-up businesses with county resources, hosted “Start-Up Maryland” at its offices in Havre de Grace on Sept. 26. Start-up companies gave a two-minute pitch in a YouTube video targeted to angel investors for possible business funding. These entrepreneurs also learned about the key stages for starting a business and tips on funding.
Finally, in celebration of September as National Preparedness Month, OED and the Department of Emergency Management co-hosted a Business Continuity Seminar on Sept. 30. It highlighted business preparedness for disasters and the importance of having a disaster plan in place, as well as emergency support.
“We hope all of the Business Appreciation Week events not only celebrated the success of Harford County businesses, but also emphasized to business owners the numerous county resources available to them every day and at each stage of their growth,” Holt says. I95
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