Building downtown Berlin area and doing it right
Posted On: 8/8/13
It’s obvious from the numbers that Berlin is doing all the right things. Since 2008, 62 new businesses have opened with a turnover of only 27, a low number considering the challenging economic conditions the past five years. Even better news is that included in the 27 were owners who retired or those who businesses are still in operation but relocated outside of the downtown business district. Certainly there were also some that did not succeed due to underfunding or an idea that just didn’t work in the marketplace, but overall Berlin continues to shine as an example of how to thrive as a business hub. Much of this has been due to the work of an excellent economic development office along with a business friendly mayor and council, in addition to the business owners themselves, who cooperatively work together to bolster the town’s image and support each other’s efforts. The popularity of the ever-increasing list of events along with enhan...» Click here for the full story.
Letters to the Editor
Posted On: 8/8/13
Editor, My wife and I go to Berlin quite often to enjoy ‘small town America.’ It reminds me of the old 1950s TV shows when all was right with the world. When Berlin hosts their special events we will meet our friends, and always enjoy ourselves. When we attend these events you will look around and see smiles on everyone’s faces, both young and old. The town and the merchants go out of their way to assure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience. There is nothing else more “small town America” than Little League baseball. Now, thanks to the area merchants, the Berlin Little League will travel to Connecticut in style to enjoy an experience of a lifetime, and represent Berlin as the Maryland State Champion. Thanks to the area families, businesses, fraternal organizations and all who gave donations, it represents Berlin in a very positive way. And best of all, it takes me back to the 1950s, when life was “small town America....» Click here for the full story.
Casino funds will aid small business
Posted On: 5/9/13
The recent announcement that the Maryland Board of Public Works has designated Worcester County one of three fund managers to oversee distribution of casino monies set aside to provide loans to small, minority and woman-owned businesses, is great news for small businesses locally that have had trouble getting traditional loans to expand or modernize in recent years. Approximately $430,000 in annual loan funding will be available for companies with fewer than 500 employees and revenues averaging less than $35 million over three years. Fifty percent of the funding must be lent to businesses located within a 10-mile radius of Ocean Downs. These monies will be available for up to five years, with a total estimate of more than $2 million to be allocated over that period. Regardless of which side of the casino fence you sit, this is a real boon to our local economy, as small businesses make up the largest segment of the marketplace, and more importantly provide area residents with t...» Click here for the full story.
EDITORIAL: Wait until MIEMMS reports its findings
Posted On: 1/10/13
Written By: EDITORIAL
The story on Page 1 this week concerning who did or did not do what at the scene of a Dec. 26 accident at routes 818 and 50 comes after a week of sorting through rumors, speculation and conjecture in search of facts. Although what was written was documented and double-checked, facts are at a premium at this point, which is why the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems has been asked to look into the situation. Its panel of reviewers will determine the facts of the case and respond accordingly. That’s as it should be, since any dispute between two community institutions — in this case, town government and the volunteer fire company — is bound to be fraught with emotion and driven by personal opinion. As is the case in just about any disagreement, people will pick sides and support positions based on who they know and what they want to believe. That’s much different than waiting to see the hard evidence as collected by dispassionate and imp...» Click here for the full story.
With Main St. filling up with businesses, is Flower St. next?
Posted On: 7/19/12
The innumerable amount of people walking through the streets of downtown Berlin this season gives a hint at how profitable the area has become for businesses. As Berlin grows, so does the area around it, and thus the search for the next center of prosperity in town begins. When talks began to institute a major renovation project for Dr. William Henry Park on Flower Street, the community got excited thinking about invigorating what is now not a prosperous area for businesses. The park will likely feature improvements such as a new basketball court, an additional pavilion and additional landscaping, but people around the community also hope the new park project will bring a special interest to the area surrounding it. For at least 20 years, community organizers have staged basketball tournaments that routinely brought large crowds to Henry Park. About five years ago, the tournaments stopped because of the community’s waning interest in the event. When the project is ...» Click here for the full story.
The Mayor isn't at the Heart of the Atlantic Hotel Windows Issue
Posted On: 3/17/11
At this week’s Berlin Town Council meeting there was an amount of ire, some of it deserved, directed at Gee Williams for his decision to ignore calls to force the Atlantic Hotel ownership to tear out the windows installed without the permission of the historic district commission. The question isn’t whether Williams overstepped his bounds, he did. He also said as much during the meeting. Contrary to what Councilwoman Lisa Hall and several other commenters said, the hotel windows, not the mayor are what is at issue; losing focus of this important point is a recipe for continued anger and disaffection. The controversy settles simply on the fact that the historic commission felt that excusing the unapproved remolding was beyond their authority. To be clear, they didn’t really decide against the improvement so much as they blamed their decision on state rules. Williams said from the beginning he hoped that this could foster a conversation about the application of h...» Click here for the full story.
OPA Board Should Re-Think Assessment Increase
Posted On: 2/24/11
Written By: Tony Russo
Although the reason is suspect, it’s a good thing the OPA board of directors caved to the pressure of budget meeting attendees by deciding to re-think the $45 assessment increase. However, rather than focus too intently on reducing the operating costs the directors should consider cutting the contribution to reserves. While the operational increase is something that may or may not be used if deemed necessary by the general manager, the fact that a group of people can so thoroughly unhinge the board as to make them double back on months worth of work is in itself the best argument against building the reserves beyond necessary maintenance items. The most reliable fact about the OPA board of directors over the years, that doesn’t change with personnel, is that they can be induced into anything with the right amount of pressure from a small group of property owners. Given the ease with which a vocal minority can historically influence decision making, the board ...» Click here for the full story.
New Home for Chamber Will Benefit Local Businesses
Posted On: 2/10/11
The Town of Berlin met late Wednesday to consider a proposal by the Chamber of Commerce to help obtain a permanent home for itself and the town’s Visitor Center. The Chamber has an opportunity to relocate their offices to 14 S. Main Street with the assistance of a $125,000 Community Legacy Grant and $150,000 grant from the Humphrey’s Foundation by securing the purchase of the building through the town. The town faces very little risk, with the chamber paying off the balance of the purchase price at higher than current rates earned by town funds, and will reap untold rewards. In addition to securing more public parking at the south end of Main Street, the new Chamber offices will encourage visitor traffic and retail development along the south end of Main Street’s shopping district. The purchase will also help foster the arts, benefitting the Chamber and Artists as well as the town. Upon completion of the purchase the Chamber will turn a portion of the b...» Click here for the full story.
New events will benefit Berlin
Posted On: 2/3/11
Working in partnership with the Main Street Maryland Program, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce has put together an outstanding, innovative schedule for the coming year. By adding events, and considering adding even more and by re-tooling other events to make them more visible and practical, the town is all set to take advantage of the increased number of visitors the long winter is sure to send its way as the weather begins to break. The most inspiring aspect of the town’s forward thinking attitude is how well these projects seem to operate on almost an exclusively volunteer basis. Taking nothing from the town employees or even the chamber employees who move mountains to keep the machinery well oiled and the troops organized, it is important to point out that at the very bottom of things, the volunteers who contribute to and run the many town events are powered by the belief that doing things for the town matters. Going forward it is not too much to expect the Chamber of Commerce...» Click here for the full story.
Williams may need to better finesse the bureaucracy
Posted On: 1/13/11
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams’ success has been his ability to bring business acumen to the office. But this same administrative skill could turn into a liability for two important reasons. First, in the private sector it is the business owner who pays for errors in judgment. When an elected official does so, no matter how well conceived, the citizens pay the cost of correcting the mistake. This is why a more collaborative process is essential. A second but equally important difference between mayor and CEO is that the commissions set up to advise are primarily made up of volunteers who are dedicated to civic duty. While no one believes the administration must always abide by committee recommendation, it is crucial that the appointees and the rest of the citizenry retain faith in the deliberative process. Williams has so far had success finessing the bureaucracy but there is some concern he could run out of goodwill. Public trust is so much easier to lose than it is to ga...» Click here for the full story.