SNOW HILL — A bus tour designed to show off Worcester County to prospective developers, builders, and members of the real estate community last week was successful and will likely lead to additional trips, according to officials.
Hosted by County Director of Economic Development Bill Badger, the bus tour focused on what Badger called Worcester’s “growth triangle” including Ocean City, West Ocean City, Berlin and Ocean Pines. Each of those communities was specifically underlined for potential investors, with Badger noting Ocean City’s seasonal tourism and Ocean Pines’ year-round population consistency with West Ocean City in close proximity to both. He also pointed out Berlin’s recent revitalization boom.
“Berlin is knocking the cover off of the ball as far as downtown re-development,” he said.
Though the bus tour didn’t focus heavily on other parts of the county this year, Badger said that there are talks of some other events that would serve to showcase Snow Hill and Pocomoke in the near future.
The tour brought in 40-plus participants consisting of developers, county officials and business representatives, by Badger’s estimate. Badger called the experience “targeted” at those most likely to spur growth in the county. His efforts were viewed favorably by the County Commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday.
“He’s reaching out to select groups of people that we’ve not tried to attract to Ocean City before … I applaud him for his efforts,” said Commission President Bud Church.
Church called Badger a “breath of fresh air” for Worcester and gave a positive review of the job he’s done in his first year. With the recent bus tour especially, Church felt that Badger took necessary “first steps” toward enticing developers and business leaders into the area and backed up the visuals of the tour by having county and municipal experts on hand to frame everything.
“He included almost every aspect of our community,” said Church.
With all signs pointing toward a successful first run, Badger confirmed that a county bus tour will likely be a recurring experience. He revealed that Anne Arundel County, where he spent almost eight years in a similar professional capacity, has been conducting developer tours for about two decades and has seen growth triggered by the trips.
“I think that it’s an effective tool,” said Badger.