Mikulski Shore Tour Includes OC Stop

Mikulski Shore Tour Includes OC Stop
mikulski ochmra

OCEAN CITY- U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s three-stop Eastern Shore jobs tour this week included a visit with resort business leaders to discuss, among other things, the J-1 visa that allows so many foreign students to work in Ocean City during the summer season.
Mikulski on Monday toured several locations across the Lower Shore including a visit with the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) leadership at the Princess Royale. The visit included a candid discussion between resort business leaders and Mikulski over proposed changed to the J-1 visa program and other programs that provide a vital segment of the workforce in Ocean City each summer and across the Lower Shore.
At Wednesday’s Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting, Chairman Michael James, who is the managing partner for the Carousel Resort, called the meeting with Mikulski over the jobs and the visa programs a productive one.
“It was a very positive meeting but we still have some concerns about the J-1 visa program and some of the changes proposed,” he said. “We have about 3,500 foreign students in our summer workforce and while the program is not in immediate danger, with immigration reform still out there, there is always some risk of losing that. Frankly, we couldn’t operate without those students.”
On Monday, Mikulski visited Ocean City to participate in a roundtable discussion on Maryland’s tourism economy and jobs with members of the OCHMRA. Mikulski discussed her work to promote tourism jobs as a champion for visa waiver legislation to support seasonal travel and tourism workers. Among the other issues discussed was the effort to expand broadband to the Lower Shore through the One Maryland Broadband Network and protecting the beaches and Boardwalk through beach replenishment, which ultimately helped Ocean City weather Super Storm Sandy last year.
Earlier this year, Mikulski fought back against legislation that would have blocked an additional 15-year extension of federal support for beach replenishment programs, including the Atlantic Coast of Maryland Storm Protection Project. The project for decades has protected the residents, small businesses and tourist economy of Ocean City, Worcester County and other Eastern Shore communities by helping prevent coastal flooding and erosion.
Since its inception, the project has repeatedly demonstrated its value by preventing more than $240 million in damages. The project has also protected billions of dollars in public and private infrastructure. Early in 2014, the latest phase of beach replenishment, funded largely through a federal, state and local partnership, will be conducted on the beaches in Ocean City with a completion date set before the summer season.
Mikulski’s visit to Ocean City on Monday included stops at other communities on the Eastern Shore including Crisfield, where she led a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the new pier replaced after the old pier was destroyed during Sandy. While the senator’s visit included discussions of beach replenishment and Sandy recovery, the intent was largely to discuss jobs on the shore.
“I’m here on the Eastern Shore to talk jobs, jobs, jobs,” she said. “I believe the best social program is a job, and that no one should have to leave the Shore to get a job. Washington doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to Maryland communities. I’m meeting with community and business leaders as economic engines of our economy to hear how government can help, how government hurts, when do you need government on your side and when do you need it to just get out of the way in order to grow jobs.”