The Vantage Blog

Caroline County Launches New Manufacturing Curriculum

The Caroline County Board of Education and Caroline County Commissioners have announced the launch of a new manufacturing curriculum for high school students. The Advanced Manufacturing Professionals (AMP) curriculum was developed to prepare Caroline County students for careers with local and regional manufacturers. The Maryland State Department of Education has approved the new curriculum, which will begin enrolling students for the 2017 – 2018 school year.

The AMP curriculum was developed in response to Caroline County Economic Development’s five-year strategic plan, which identified workforce development for the manufacturing sector as a top priority. The Board of Education, economic development, and local manufacturers began working together to develop AMP nearly three years ago.

“We are very excited about the opportunities AMP will provide our students,” said Dr. Patricia Saelens, Interim Superintendent of Caroline County Public Schools. “The new curriculum is very robust. It will prepare students for modern manufacturing, which requires creativity, problem solving, and teamwork.”

The manufacturing sector employs more than 1,200 people in Caroline County, representing 12.2% of all jobs in the County, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation. There are more than 6,500 people employed in manufacturing in the broader Mid-Shore region. The Board of Education received fifteen letters of support for the AMP curriculum from manufacturers located in all five Mid-Shore counties. These companies expressed concern that it has become increasingly difficult to find skilled technical workers. They expect this trend to continue as their most experienced workers are aging and retiring out of the workforce.

The local shortage of skilled manufacturing labor reflects broader national trends. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the industry expects to add a total of 3.5 million manufacturing jobs over the next ten years. In a recent survey, 80% of manufacturers reported that they are already facing a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled or highly-skilled positions. This is despite the fact that the average manufacturing worker’s wages are $26.00 per hour, excluding benefits. This is higher than the average wages for workers in other sectors.

“The AMP program will begin developing the next generation of manufacturing talent, which is absolutely vital to Caroline County,” said Dan Franklin, president of the Caroline County Commissioners. “We’ve seen significant growth with new manufacturers moving to the County, and our existing companies growing and expanding. We are very fortunate to have a Board of Education that is so eager to work with our businesses. There’s a true partnership between the schools and our economic development office.”

The AMP curriculum will give students the opportunity to work on equipment like 3D printers, CNC machines, and state-of-the-art welding kits. Students will work on real-world projects provided by local manufacturers. Local manufacturers have also volunteered to help co-teach lessons, provide feedback to students on completed projects, and provide internship opportunities.

Josh Zimmerman, Business Liaison for Caroline County Public Schools, said the manufacturing community has helped make AMP a reality. “We have incredible business leaders who have already invested a tremendous amount of their time to support this curriculum. Tanglewood Conservatories has been part of this effort from the beginning, and has gone above and beyond what we could have ever asked. Other manufacturers like Dart Container and Crystal Steel have also been very generous with their support.”

Students enrolled in the AMP curriculum will begin taking classes in their sophomore year and will move through the program as a cohort. They will begin by learning the principles of safety, quality, measurements, and lean manufacturing. They will apply those concepts as they move through the curriculum, working on projects related to product design and development, process automation, and production management.

Gene Smith, Principal of the Caroline Career & Technology Center where AMP will be taught, says the curriculum will have a heavy emphasis on soft skills. “Businesses have told us that they’re looking for people who are good at problem solving and working in teams. We’ll be providing students with projects that challenge them. They’ll have to work together to figure out solutions, just like in a real manufacturing environment,” said Smith.

Students who complete the AMP curriculum will be prepared to go to work immediately, or to pursue further education. The Board of Education has secured articulation agreements with Chesapeake College and Delaware Technical Community College.

Smith said students and parents interested in AMP should contact their guidance counselors. Businesses interested in getting involved with AMP may contact Josh Zimmerman, Business Liaison for Caroline County Public Schools at 410-479-1460; or Rachel Barry, Economic Development Coordinator at 410-479-4188.

New Ag Business Hiring Management Positions

There will soon be a new agricultural business in Ridgely, and they are hiring!

BSD Farms is a large-scale hydroponic greenhouse operation. The company will be producing lettuce, herbs, and vegetables for sale to Kosher markets throughout the east coast. BSD Farms will be building their operation in the Mid-Shore Technology Park located in Ridgely, MD.

BSD Farms is currently seeking candidates for two important management positions. Please click the links below for the complete job descriptions:

Project Manager – BSD Farm

Chief Local Grower – BSD Farm

BSD Farms is tentatively scheduled to conduct initial interviews on March 16, 2017. Anyone who would like to be considered should submit a resume and cover letter as soon as possible to Please do not mail your cover letter and resume; they should be sent via email only. Cover Letters may be addressed to:

Mr. Asaff Bagg

BSD Farms, Inc.

Mid-Shore Technology Park

Ridgely, MD 21660

Candidates selected for consideration will be contacted to schedule an interview. Please share this post with anyone you know who may be interested.

Caroline County Commissioners Hire Rachel Barry as Economic Development Coordinator

Rachel HeadshotThe Caroline County Commissioners are pleased to announce the selection of Rachel Barry as Economic Development Coordinator.

Barry comes to the County with three years’ experience in economic development. Prior to being hired by the County, she served as the Manager of Small Business Services for Caroline Economic Development Corporation, where she was responsible for all aspects of the organization’s small business strategy and outreach.  This included managing the Caroline County Small Business Loan Program, business plan review, site selection, troubleshooting permitting and regulatory issues, and assistance securing project financing.

In her new role, Barry will be responsible for implementing the County’s strategic plan for economic development. Her duties include working with the County Commissioners and the Economic Development Advisory Board to establish objectives in business retention and expansion, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and marketing and business attraction.

County Commission President Dan Franklin stated, “I’ve had the privilege of working with Rachel in her former position with CEDC, where I was on the Board of Directors. I am excited to have her aboard as Caroline County’s Economic Development Coordinator, and have no doubt that she will continue to provide outstanding service to our business community and citizens. We’re proud to have Rachel on our team.”

A native of Caroline County, Barry holds an A.S. in Business Administration from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  She moved back to Denton with her husband after he completed military service in 2012.  Barry previously worked in the logistics and financial sectors and is active in several local organizations, including Caroline Imagination Library Partnership.  She has also served on the Board of Directors for SCORE Mid-Shore, a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed, since 2013.

Barry began her position effective March 1, 2017.

Caroline Economic Development Corporation Launches New Brand

“You Belong Here” brand will attract businesses, talent, and visitors to Caroline County

Caroline Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) has launched a new brand to attract businesses, talent, and visitors to Caroline County. The new brand will be implemented by both Economic Development and the Office of Tourism. Establishing a strong brand for the County was identified as a top priority in CEDC’s five-year strategic plan for economic development.

The new brand was built around the tagline “You Belong Here,” which was chosen after extensive community input. CEDC hired Choptank Communications, a marketing firm based on the Eastern Shore, to conduct focus groups, a public survey, and one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders throughout Caroline County. Participants were asked to provide their insight into the culture and characteristics that best define the County. In total, nearly 400 people who live and/or work in Caroline County provided input that helped shape the brand.

“It was interesting to see how consistent feedback was across demographic groups and industries,” said Angela Visintainer, Director of Economic Development. “There were very clear themes that emerged. Almost everyone talked about how warm and down-to-earth Caroline County is, and how it just feels like home. Many people also spoke about how collaborative and close relationships are in the County. There are a lot of very strong partnerships.”

Based on the input from the community, Choptank Communications proposed the tagline “You Belong Here” to serve as the foundation of the new brand. This was reflected back to many of the same people who participated in the focus groups and interviews to get their feedback on the concept. There was overwhelming consensus that “You Belong Here” accurately captures the character of Caroline County.

Community feedback was also used to guide the design of the logo for the new brand. “There was again a lot of consistency from the focus groups and survey results,” said Visintainer. “People talked about how much they love the rural landscapes in Caroline County, including the farmland, rivers, and parks. There were very vivid descriptions of the green in the fields, the yellow of the corn that grows throughout the county, and the blue of the rivers and open sky.”

CEDC contracted Christina Lippincott Designs to incorporate this imagery into a logo design that is both modern and versatile. The resulting logo includes an icon of graceful arches in blue, green, and yellow to represent the County’s landscape. The “You Belong Here” tagline is presented in a bright green, casual script that feels friendly and welcoming.

“We wanted a logo that is bright and cheerful to appeal to visitors coming to the County,” said Kathy Mackel, Director of Tourism. “The logo looks friendly and welcoming, and I think it really sends the message that when you visit Caroline County, we’ll make you feel right at home.”

Both Economic Development and Tourism will be incorporating the new “You Belong Here” brand into all future marketing efforts. CEDC will also offer to share the tagline with other County agencies, departments, and non-profits, as well as the various municipalities throughout the County.

“We’re developing guidelines for other organizations that would like to incorporate the ‘You Belong Here’ tagline into their own marketing and communications efforts,” said Visintainer. “Our hope is that the brand will be widely adopted, which will create a consistent message and experience for everyone visiting, living, or working in the County.”

Caroline County Welcomes Crystal Steel Fabricators; 126 New Jobs Coming to Federalsburg

Steel structure for UMES Engineering, Aviation, Computer and Mathematical Science Building designed and fabricated by Crystal Steel

Steel structure for UMES Engineering, Aviation, Computer and Mathematical Science Building designed and fabricated by Crystal Steel

Caroline Economic Development Corp. has announced that Crystal Steel Fabricators, Inc. is expanding to Federalsburg. Crystal Steel is headquartered in Delmar, Delaware and has facilities in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and the Philippines. The company is continuing operations in its current locations and adding additional manufacturing capacity in Federalsburg.

Crystal Steel is a family-owned structural steel fabricator specializing in large-scale projects such as stadiums, hospitals, bridges, and schools. Significant projects completed in Maryland include MGM Resort Casino at National Harbor, the Ocean City Convention Center, and Salisbury University Perdue School of Business, among others.

Crystal Steel has acquired the former ES Steel building in the Frank Adams Industrial Park, which totals 100,000 square feet. The company is also acquiring a 4.8 acre lot in the Park for additional development. Over the next two years, Crystal Steel expects to create 126 new jobs at its Federalsburg facility.

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome Crystal Steel to Federalsburg and Caroline County,” said Angela Visintainer, Director of Economic Development. “We’re thrilled about the job creation and investment they’ll be making of course, but we’re also excited that they’re such a good cultural fit for our County. They have a hardworking, down-to-earth culture. Members of their team have already begun working with Caroline County Public Schools to advise on the new manufacturing curriculum launching in the spring.”

Crystal Steel is currently accepting applications for a variety of positions including CNC Machine Operators, Structural Steel Fabricators, Welders, and Structural Steel Helpers. The company offers a robust training program and will consider applicants with limited experience as long as they can demonstrate a strong work ethic.

“We are always excited to provide people with great career opportunities, and many of our employees have been with us for ten years or more,” said Emad Mohamed, Executive Vice President at Crystal Steel. “We expect strong growth, which will provide folks in Federalsburg with the chance to move up and become leaders.”

Crystal Steel was initially attracted to Federalsburg because the building site has direct rail access and was designed for steel fabrication. The State of Maryland offered strong incentives including the One Maryland Tax Credit and the Enterprise Zone Tax Credit programs, as well as a $315,000 conditional loan through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF), which is based upon the company’s commitment to job creation and capital expenditures.

“Crystal Steel’s plan to invest more than $4 million and create more than 126 jobs is exactly the kind of economic development our administration pledged to bring to Maryland,” said Governor Hogan, a strong advocate for Maryland manufacturing jobs. “In addition to bringing high-paying jobs to the Eastern Shore, employees will learn new skills like lean manufacturing and CNC programming. This project is a win for Crystal Steel, a win for the Caroline County, and a win for the citizens of Maryland.”

Crystal Steel will also utilize the manufacturing tax credits offered by both The Town of Federalsburg and Caroline County. These tax credits incentivize local investment for new and/or expanding manufacturing businesses.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Crystal Steel to our business community,” said Federalsburg Mayor Chuck Planner. “It’s an honor to have a company of Crystal Steel’s caliber choose our community for their future growth.”

Caroline County Commissioner Dan Franklin, who also serves on the Caroline Economic Development Corp. board of directors, said he is pleased to see more manufacturing come to the County. “Caroline County has a great workforce for manufacturing,” he said. “Because of our agricultural roots, we have a lot of people who like to work with their hands and tackle mechanical challenges. It’s very exciting to have new career opportunities open up for our residents, especially at a business as strong as Crystal Steel.”

The Crystal Steel team has met with Caroline County Warden Ruth Coulbourne to discuss the possibility of training inmates on work release. “Sometimes people make a mistake in life that they regret, and they need a second chance to get on a positive track,” said Jeff Weaver, Director of Operations at Crystal Steel. “We’re happy to provide that chance to anyone who is willing to work hard.”

Crystal Steel will begin filling some positions immediately and will continue to scale up over the next two years. Anyone interested in applying for a position with Crystal Steel should submit a resume to

Notice of a Public Regional Meeting to Modernize State Procurement

Public Regional Meeting

Governor Larry Hogan’s Commission to Modernize State Procurement, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, will host three regional meetings.
The third Public Regional Meeting will be held:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
10 AM to 12 Noon
Easton Fire Hall
315 Aurora Park Drive Easton, Maryland 21601

Plenty of parking is available at the Easton Fire Hall

Because the State of Maryland spends $ 4 billion annually on goods and services, the Commission seeks to engage Marylanders in its efforts to ensure that State contracting is efficient, transparent, and equitable for businesses and produces the best value at reasonable prices for Marylanders.

Everyone is invited to attend this public meeting. You will have the opportunity to address the Commissioners. Business owners are encouraged to share their experiences with the State procurement process and their ideas on improving it. [Note that discussion will not focus on specific bids, contracts, or disputes.]
Please visit their website for further information about the Commission to Modernize State Procurement:
Executive Order 01.01.2016.05