Now that Riddle Farm has access to its long-awaited county water and sewer services along the Route 50 corridor, the area can be developed more easily and promoted to the millions of travelers and thousands of locals that pass through the area each year.
While the shopping center — already home to Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other early adopters — is the centerpiece of a tour the Worcester County Economic Development Department plans for Oct. 26, it is by no means the only available option for business growth in the county.
In addition to the major shopping complex slated for heavy development in the corridor, department Director Merry Mears said she would also focus on the downtowns of local municipalities and the industrial park in Pocomoke City.
“I learned how a tour could be done during the last one in 2013, and through experience I learned how it could be improved upon,” Mears said. “We’re coming to the end of the tunnel in Riddle Farm, so it’s time to do another tour — but I don’t want to do just another tour, I want to hit it out of the park.”
Mears was granted two approvals recently by the county commissioners: one to hold the tour, and another to produce animated aerial videos of development areas, at a total cost of about $27,100. That cost, Mears said, has already been reduced by $1,500 because of sold sponsorships, and could come down even more if additional backers can be found.
“I’ve been working closely with the Maryland Economic Development Association to select 58 people to put onto a tour bus with the correct mix of bankers, big box stores and developers,” she said.
The tour bus comes equipped with video monitors on the backs of the seats, and Mears is using the opportunity to showcase properties to a captive audience.
According to the proposal offered by Mears to the commissioners, the vendor, DB Film Production, run by Daniel Bowen, will produce four videos between 1-3 minutes in length. The videos will mix aerial drone video with animation to produce a before-and-after image of what exists in the area and what it could become.
The locations to be highlighted include areas of Ocean City and West Ocean City, Berlin, Snow Hill and Pocomoke.
Already confirmed for the tour are commercial real estate firm Trout Daniel and Associates, restaurant Cracker Barrel, outfitter Bass Pro Shops and grocery stores Harris Teeter, Aldi, and Lidl.
“This allows us to tell our story, to put ourselves in the center and let people see what it would be like to do business here,” Mears said.