The First Reception
The first reception was held on February 1, 1977, at the Hilton Inn in Annapolis. Newspaper accounts stated that approximately 400 people attended, including then Governor Marvin Mandel, and about 75 residents. Governor Mandel stated, “Such receptions are effective in that Legislators and other State officials learn the needs of a county and get an opportunity to meet local leaders.” Also in attendance were two future governors: then Secretary of Transportation, Harry R. Hughes, and then Mayor of Baltimore, William Donald Schaefer.
The primary objective of that first event was to educate state leaders on the need for the completion of the National Freeway, Route 48. A huge map depicting the uncompleted section of highway was the backdrop for the evening. For several years the theme would use the concept of “connection” in order to continue the push for the completion of the freeway.
Success Year After Year
During the years that have followed, the Reception was used as a venue to pursue other important legislative initiatives and funding. Projects like Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort, Canal Parkway, Western Correctional Institution, Allegheny Highlands Trail, One Maryland Program, new science center at Frostburg State University, Flood Mitigation funding, new libraries in Frostburg and Lonaconing, and the new U.S. 220 North were among the specific requests highlighted at past Receptions.
Sometimes special events were also a part of the Reception. In years past they have included the signing of the lease agreement for the new Kelly-Springfield Corporate Headquarters and the announcement of the start of community air service from the Cumberland Regional Airport. However, usually the atmosphere of the event is more conducive for one-on-one efforts between local folks and the State’s leaders.
A New Era
January 2001 marked a new era in the ongoing effort to promote Western Maryland to the leadership of Maryland’s State Government.
For 24 consecutive years the Allegany County “PACE” Reception focused on the needs of Allegany County and was sponsored by the Cumberland/Allegany County Industrial Foundation, Inc.
For over 25 years the Garrett County Development Corporation hosted a Garrett County Legislative Breakfast that featured the State’s major political leaders from the President of the Maryland State Senate to Maryland Lieutenant Governors and Governors. Those featured guests would address the attendees regarding issues of importance to Garrett County and its economy. After each speaker they were presented with a gift from the Corporation and a thank you. (That tradition continues today.)
For the 2001 event, new ideas were developed to address two key issues. First, there was and is a recognized desire to expand the growing regional cooperation between Allegany and Garrett Counties in order to leverage each County’s individual positive attributes into a greater attraction. Second, there was and is a stated desire to attract more members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Cabinet to the events.
During the day of each year’s reception the County governments, in partnership with the municipalities and other public entities, arrange structured meetings with the State and Federal agencies to discuss specific projects and funding plans. The PACE events provide the attraction for these important meetings, but they are arranged separately by each County.
Communicating Our Message
To make the events effective, the Committee provides each member of the General Assembly, the Governor’s Cabinet and key State development staff with a memento. The Governor is usually provided with a statelier gift. The memento is provided in advance of the Reception and is intended to serve as a reminder of the event and as a daily reminder thereafter of the issues relevant to Mountain Maryland.
In a more structured effort, the Reception includes corporate trade show type displays. A number of key firms are selected each year to be displayers and to carry the message of the corporate character of the community. The focus is intended to convey a message of the diversity of the community’s economic base and the quality of the companies located in Mountain Maryland.
In Order To Continue
Each year the events serve as an important tool in making Maryland’s political leadership aware of the needs and the specific requests of Allegany and Garrett Counties. This effort is vital when it comes time for Senate or House Committee to decide which program to fund or which project to include in the budget. The Reception and Breakfast provide our Delegation with a strong show of local support for issues they are pressing in Annapolis, and the results have been impressive. However, without the support and participation of quality firms and individuals, these events cannot be held.
The basic reasons for holding the events remain as valid today as they did in 1977. Mountain Maryland has a tremendous story to tell and Annapolis has a great deal of good Marylanders who need to hear it.
The Mountain Maryland PACE Reception and Breakfast are sponsored by the Cumberland/Allegany County Industrial Foundation and the Garrett County Development Corporation. These events are made possible through the generous donations and purchases of tickets by the citizens and businesses of Mountain Maryland. Sponsorships are an important part of the funding for these events.