SALISBURY, Md. – A new report by 24/7 Wall St. shows the United States' economy is expected to pick up by 2.7 percent this year.
While it's great news for the nation, the data also shows that one local area is expected to do just the opposite – Salisbury. A picture of the city's downtown plaza is plastered on the study as one of America's fastest shrinking economies. However, it may not be as bad as it seems.
"Salisbury is really not in that bad of a position as indicated in that report," says Ernie Colburn, CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce.
While the study shows nearly every metro area is projected to grow in 2014, Salisbury's economy is expected to shrink this year by 3.8 percent. However, city leaders explain the data on Salisbury's metro-area does not just include the city itself. Instead, it is measured by what is called the "Salisbury Metropolitan Statistical Area."
"This used to encompass Wicomico and Somerset counties," says Jake Day, president of the Salisbury City Council. "Today, it encompasses Sussex County in Delaware, Worcester County in Maryland, Somerset County in Maryland and Wicomico County in Maryland."
When looking at just the core metro-area of Salisbury, which only includes Delmar through Fruitland, Dr. Memo Diriker, director of Salisbury University's Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON), says the economy actually grew by 1.5 percent last year, and is expected to grow even more this year.
"What it's telling us is that people who live in those outlying areas are coming here for work, because this is where the economic activity is taking place," says Dr. Diriker. "So, in some ways, it's a compliment to the metro core of Salisbury."
However, city leaders say Salisbury is still not off the hook.
"We're still losing employment we're still losing our labor force," says Day. "It identifies exactly where we need to focus, we have got to focus on our housing stock and we've got to focus on jobs."
Now, city leaders are using it as a motivator to continue taking action. Day says that the city has a high rental population, and to help with the housing issue, they have established a Foreclosure Task Force. In addition, Wicomico County is working on an Economic Development Team, which includes five Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce members and ten government and business leaders to help make the process for starting a business a little easier in Salisbury.
"This will create a process that has flow, is easy to understand, and give people someone who can walk them through the application process," says Colburn. "Instead of somebody walking in and being totally disarranged about what is going on, we want them to feel welcome and comfortable and realize that yes, Salisbury is welcome for business."
Colburn says that the city council reviewed paperwork on the team Monday night. The next step is to take it to the county council, and once they get dual approval, they will implement the process.
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