Worcester County Loses Economic Development Director To Private Sector

SNOW HILL – Worcester County Economic Development Director Merry Mears will leave the county to take a private sector position.

On Monday, Wicomico County-based Devreco and Gillis and Gilkerson announced that Mears had been hired as their chief development officer.

“She’s a great addition to the team,” said Brad Gillis, principal with Devreco and Gillis Gilkerson. “She’s going to really help us source commercial real estate projects and construction projects. We’re very excited and look forward to working with her.”

Mears, who has worked for Worcester County since 2012, has served as director of economic development since 2015 when Bill Badger, the department’s previous director, resigned. She will begin her new role as chief development officer with Devreco and Gillis Gilkerson Feb. 5.

“I wasn’t looking to leave Worcester County,” said Mears. “I love Worcester County. It’s part of me. Anybody in this position gets to meet a lot of people and over the years, I’ve had job offers and never given them a second thought until this one. Anybody tuned into the economy knows 2017 was a good year and things are heating back up. The economy is primed for development. I was approached with this opportunity and came to the conclusion that if I was ever going to do this, this was the right time.”

As chief development officer, a new position at Devreco and Gillis and Gilkerson, Mears will oversee commercial development. She’ll be finding tenants, identifying promising development and creating projects to meet client needs.

“She’s going to really continue our mission,” Gillis said.

Mears will also be getting her commercial real estate license. She expects her new role to give her the ability to take part in successful commercial development projects from start to finish.

“I’m over the moon about this opportunity,” she said. “I’m grateful I was asked to join the team.”

Nevertheless Mears enjoyed her time in Worcester County and said the staff there had been like family.

“I am confident the team of professionals in place will remain steadfast in their goals of supporting business development and job opportunities for the county,” she said.

During her five years in Worcester County, Mears is proud to have inspired entrepreneurs through the Worcester County Small Business Incubator, expanded STEM opportunities for local students and helped industry grow. In Pocomoke, Mears helped Hardwire LLC secure “strategic local and state partnerships” that enabled it to expand.

Merry Mears

Most recently, Mears has been working to market the commercial space in the West Ocean City corridor that is now being served through the water and sewer expansion at Riddle Farm.

Other high-profile projects Mears has been involved with include exploration of an excursion train in Worcester County and development of an outdoor sports complex. Mears said it was unlikely the excursion train would happen.

“I don’t see that project as something viable for a government entity,” she said. “The price tag is just too high.”

Exploration of a sports complex in Worcester County is still underway, however. She said her staff was compiling a list of properties that could potentially serve as the site of such a facility.

“The county commissioners are still in conversation about what the next steps should be,” she said, adding that she expected the commissioners to eventually review the list of possible properties. “If they choose to move forward I’ll miss being part of that.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.