All the unrest and upheavals of 2020 are leading to plenty of career and lifestyle changes.
New York City, for example, is seeing a significant exodus of residents for various reasons, including COVID-19, social unrest and concern about public safety. The actions and orders of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are making it very hard on restaurants and small businesses in particular.
Other workers have seen their jobs and careers change because of the virus and social distancing. They are able to work from home or remotely. That has plenty of professional, innovative and creative workers looking at where they live and work.
The challenges of 2020 are also creating options and opportunities.
This is an opportunity for the Eastern Shore also — especially Mid-Shore communities such as Easton.
It is a chance for economic growth and jobs.
There are plenty of folks from Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore and beyond also looking at a different quality of life. They are looking for less stress and for communities and lives with purpose.
Those include entrepreneurs and small business owners as well as artists, technology workers and others.
The Eastern Shore — especially a creative and economic hub such as Easton — could benefit greatly from these migrations.
These new residents can help local tax bases both short- and long-term. And just like our visitors, they can support local restaurants, businesses and shops.
They can also bring new entrepreneurial and creative vigor to our towns. They can start new businesses, create jobs and add to our already robust arts and creative communities.
The Shore is not a hard sell. We are still close to major metro areas but without the traffic, crime, unrest and high costs. Our natural beauty, picturesque shorelines and beaches sell themselves.
Easton has the amenities, a cool downtown and infrastructure that are very appealing to potential transplants.
We just have to be welcoming.
That includes making sure we have the technology infrastructure for remote workers and entrepreneurs.
Easton Utilities and local leaders have been working to improve existing broadband networks and extend connections to underserved areas. That work needs to aggressively continue.
We also have to be open to responsible growth.
There needs to be sensitivity to the Chesapeake Bay, the environment and the character of our towns.
But we also worry there is too much immediate community opposition to new ideas and new developments.
We should do our due diligence, but some new projects will produce jobs and needed investments, and help existing local businesses.
How we treat economic development projects and investments also sends messages to those thinking of moving or working here.
If we are too resistant to each and every idea and project, that will discourage innovators and entrepreneurs from moving here.
We have neighbors who need jobs and career opportunities. That should not get lost as we navigate all the changes brought by 2020.
The world is changing rapidly. We are confident that we can attract new residents, new businesses and new vigor to our towns without taking away from their character.
The year 2020 has created unprecedented challenges. But it also created opportunities. Let’s embrace the latter.