BERLIN — Three weeks after securing the Worcester County Commission’s support to apply for the fourth round of U.S. Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funding, a major stakeholder backed out, causing the county to drop its application.
“Tyson has chosen to withdraw their support for the TIGER IV grant application,” said Worcester Director of Economic Development Bill Badger.
Badger visited the Berlin Mayor and Council Monday to break the news, which he explained only occurred that morning. However, he also promised that while TIGER funding, which would have been a boon to railroads in the area, fell through this year his department will continue to search for similar opportunities. Badger added that even though Tyson did not offer a reason for rescinding support of the application, his office still plans to pursue future partnerships with the company.
“We will seek other ways to work with Tyson to protect jobs in Snow Hill and the county,” he told the council.
Mayor Gee Williams took the bad news in stride and encouraged Badger, who took his position three months ago, to view the situation as just another pebble in the road.
“Don’t be discouraged by the development this morning,” he said.
Williams stressed a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” attitude and told Badger that he shouldn’t “be afraid to fail.”
“Times of great adversity are also the times of greatest opportunity,” said Williams. “It’s all in how you look at it.”
TIGER grant aside, Williams praised Badger for his efforts so far since becoming director last fall.
“My initial impressions have been very positive,” said Williams.
Badger got similar reviews the next day at a county budget work session.
“You’re getting out, you’re becoming known, you’re making a mark on the county,” said County Commission President Bud Church.
While Badger admitted to having serious issues to address down the road, including Worcester currently having the highest unemployment rate in Maryland, due mainly to the area’s seasonal nature, Church said that the commission supported Badger and would give him time to make progress.
“We know that you’re pretty much starting from scratch,” he said.