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CVB's Riford helps facilitate strategic planning session

PHOTO CAP: CVB's Tom Riford with Governor O'Malley

CVB's Riford helps facilitate strategic planning session: Governor Marting O'Malley's December forum; "Maryland Forward Transition Meeting on the Jobs"

(Rockville, MD): Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley hosted a strategic planning session titled: "Maryland Forward Transition Meeting on Jobs."
The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Tom Riford is the chairman of the Maryland Destination Marketing Organizations, the state-wide organization of tourism directors and tourism offices. Riford helped facilitate the session for Arts and Tourism - Quality of Life in Maryland.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley told business leaders that the state must help spur innovation and create jobs despite challenging budgetary constraints.
The governor told the forum for the state's business leaders that he wanted to hear how Maryland can support entrepreneurs. He also wanted to know which state efforts and initiatives are helping business, and which programs need to be scrapped. The December forum was the first of five forums on topics including education, sustainability and public safety to help shape the priorities of O'Malley's second term.
After discussions in smaller groups on the needs of high-tech, traditional, or small businesses and tourism, one of the things that representatives reported back that businesses want is that the state needs to facilitate better access to capital, saying banks' requirements can make it difficult for them to borrow.
Business leaders at the forum also voiced that state government needs to streamline its regulatory process, which would be especially helpful for the state's wineries. Tom Riford said, "Some wineries say that if they knew then, what they know now, they'd never get into the wine-making business. It's difficult to jump through all the hoops required to create a viable agri-tourism business."
Some business leaders felt that it would be beneficial that the state create a "one-stop shop" that would guide businesses through the tangle of regulations they face.
Karen Myers of Wisp Resort, presented information from the arts and tourism group, and repeated information gathered at the break-out sessions. "The state should simplify or basically repeal the arcane and obsolete laws and regulations," she said. The point drew applause from the nearly 350 business leaders gathered.
Governor O'Malley said, "The frustration with permitting and licensing is something that's real and something that needs to be further broken down, pulled apart and rebuilt in a way that makes a lot more sense and is more understandable and more user-friendly." The governor said, "There's room for improvement in all of these things."
A final report produced from forum will be available to the public in early January.

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