EASTON — Keasha Haythe wants to bring her years of experience in economic development to the House of Delegates and help create a region wide plan for growth.
Haythe is the current economic development director of Dorchester County and before that of Queen Anne’s County. She is the Democratic candidate for one of the District 37B House of Delegates seats, for which two candidates from different counties can be chosen.
Part of Haythe’s job as economic development director is to look at national trends in the economy. In today’s U.S. economy, rural North Dakota is growing the fastest, she said. That means growth for the Eastern Shore is very possible.
The Eastern Shore needs to develop a regionwide approach to job growth — a joint effort to play off each county’s strengths and what attracts people or companies to those counties.
“I do believe that if we create a regional plan for marketing the Eastern Shore as a whole and start to do that and determine a brand for the Eastern Shore and start selling that together, we swill start to take baby steps and really promote ourselves as a region and become more attractive to companies outside of the state,” Haythe said.
“By us banding together, it makes us more effective and ... more of a powerful force to get things done versus individually, where all of our budgets are drying up.”
Haythe said her experience in economic development can go a long way in the General Assembly, where legislation might not necessarily be needed to create a regionwide plan.
There’s no “cookie cutter approach” to create jobs or attract companies, she said.
She said she would be open to supporting a plan that reduces the corporate tax rate, currently at 8.25 percent, by 0.25 percent each year for five years to lessen the burden on companies and make it similar to surrounding areas.
But that’s just one part of the equation, she said. “There are many variables when you talk about trying to attract a company to Maryland.”
She said it’s the role of government to create an environment that’s conducive to job growth.
Part of that is making sure there are proper tools and funding in place for the education system, so that there is an educated workforce ready for employment when prospective companies visit the area, she said. “Education and economic development go hand-in-hand.”
District 37B and other areas on the Shore are poised to attract advanced manufacturing businesses and technology companies, she said.
Haythe said success is all about partnership, and that goes for the agriculture and seafood industries on the Eastern Shore, too.
She said the two traditional Shore industries need a true seat at the table in Annapolis alongside those lawmakers and state officials who regulate them.
There needs to be a balance, she said, but farmers have done their part to clean the Chesapeake Bay, and “we need to not enforce or implement regulations that threatens the farmer’s way of life.”
Haythe said one of her priorities, should she be elected as delegate, is to review the income tax structure for middle class families and see what regulations are on the books that could be removed.
“I think that’s important, because if we can put more money back into the pocketbooks of the middle class wage earners, they’re going to spend money and that’s going to effect our economy. That’s going to give them more buying power,” Haythe said. “We keep adding regulations. We keep adding taxes. Is there anything that we could potentially remove off the books?”
Haythe also said she’d work in the House of Delegates on women’s rights, particularly making sure women are paid equally with men for the same job.
Haythe said the District 37B House of Delegates race should be about experience, knowledge and results, and that her track record in Dorchester County has proved she can deliver all of those.
For instance, Haythe said she has helped lower Dorchester’s unemployment from 11 percent, and she has also worked with the business community and secured more than $10 million for economic development projects.
She said Dorchester had to find out what worked for it, and she, as the economic development director, spent a lot of time cold-calling businesses and sharing with them the value and opportunities that present themselves in Dorchester.
“My leadership capability and my ability to bring people together and solidify partnerships have been proven in Dorchester,” Haythe said.