As Carroll County looks to bring in new manufacturers and businesses, technology will be a major factor according to a Long Term Advisory Council study.
Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin shared his findings in a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners this November on behalf of the business cluster — alongside the education, technology, health, agriculture, recreation and arts, and public safety — to talk about what the sector will need to be competitive 30 years from now.
A survey administered by McMullin and a business class at McDaniel College found that business owners in Carroll County want to prioritize technology education and high-speed internet, in addition to revitalizing Main Streets.
“How important is it to prioritize the county’s spending budget on K-12 public education?” McMullin asked at the meeting.
“This is probably the biggest [response] we got back,” he said. “When they answered ‘how important is it for career and tech education,’ 72 percent said ‘very important’ ” on a scale where they chose from four options: very unimportant, unimportant, important or very important.
With an additional 26 percent of respondents stating career and tech education is “important,” 98 percent of business owners believe that will be of importance in the future.
“Getting these kids ready with manufacturing skills [is important],” McMullin told the Times in an interview. “Look at all the manufacturing here.
“Not everyone needs to go to college to have a great job,” he said.
McMullin cited Mudgett’s Auto Repair in Finksburg as an example.
“They’ve hired so many people now from that school,” he said.
And Justin Mudgett, of Mudgett’s Auto Repair, said that with the abundance of blue-collar work, Carroll County especially needs people with that type of training.
“There’s blue-collar work and white-collar work,” Mudgett, who is also director of the Local Advisory Council at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center, told the Times.
“And right now there’s a labor shortage in the blue-collar department, working with your hands — whether you’re a collision repair mechanic, diesel mechanic, carpenter, HVAC, welder, construction. The business community, what we want to see is more of an emphasis or career paths made available to students in these industries.
“What we see in the labor market is all these kids are graduating from college and have a skill set, but the market doesn’t need their skill set,” he said. “It doesn’t need more managers, accountants — the market needs people who want to work with their hands.”
McMullin said internet connectivity will also be key.
The Carroll County Public Network has more than 110 miles of fiber optic lines throughout the county — with more than 130 local and state agencies connected to the network. The county also has a business leasing program and the Carroll Broadband Grant, which assists in leasing dark fiber to businesses and internet service providers.
Fifty percent of survey respondents said it is “very important” to prioritize county spending and its budget for high-speed internet connectivity for all of Carroll County. An additional 36 percent said it is “important.”
Latest Carroll County News
“That got an 86 percent,” McMullin said of the total, “but it would have been higher because five years ago we did another survey and I think people are getting used to having the internet now. This is obviously a huge issue.”