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Chamber of Commerce Heads Speak

Author’s Note: After looking at the national and state levels, Thebaynet.com is taking its review of the country’s deteriorating economy to the local level. The paid presidents of the St. Mary’s, Calvert, and Charles county chambers of commerce were interviewed and asked about the economy as it pertains to their respective chamber members. The following represents an encapsulation of three very extensive and independent interviews.


St. Mary’s Chamber of Commerce President Bill Scarafia

When asked to describe the local economic conditions in St. Mary’s County, Bill Scarafia said it would be difficult to define because there are two distinct membership types in the chamber.

He indicated that, on one hand, a great deal of the local economy is based on federal dollars spent on multiple defense contractors servicing the base.

“Defense contractors are and will continue to do fine as long as the government continues to fund [Patuxent River NAS],” Scarafia said. “The high-end jobs that staff the contractor companies seem secure.” He indicated that defense contractors are continuing to seek and acquire more qualified staff to handle increased workloads. The more micro the economic condition, that is local merchants, real estate brokers and agents, builders, restaurants and retail shops is a different story altogether.”

The local merchants who rely on disposable income are the members of the chamber most affected by declining economic conditions.

“While income levels have remained fairly stable, the increases in costs across the board have reduced everyone’s disposable income,” Scarafia told The Bay Net.

He went on to say that local merchants rely on their customers’ disposable income to build revenue. As people have to put more money into fuel and food, they have less to spend on entertainment, dining and nonessential retail items. When income declines, people tend to cut back in order to survive.

“It is these businesses that are having the hardest time,” Scarafia said.


Calvert Chamber of Commerce President Carolyn McHugh

 

In a phone interview, Carolyn McHugh indicated that Calvert County is fairly unique in that a full 60 percent of the workforce commutes to either Washington, D.C. or to Pax River to earn a living.

These folks are fairly well insulated from the affects of the declining economic conditions. She said, on the other hand, local developers, builders, real estate professionals and related businesses have been the most hard hit of the Calvert chamber members.

“We have heard from a couple of restaurants and smaller retailers that they are having a very difficult time. It is the developers, builders and real estate brokers that are having the worst time right now, ” McHugh said.

One particular developer, who is also a real estate broker and has a home improvement company, told McHugh that usually when one segment of the industry goes down another segment goes u

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