From left to right, Calvert County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Christy Lombardi, Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins of Lusby Owner Nance Pretto and Calvert County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO William Chambers.

Chesapeake Beach, MD – Deserved or undeserved, Calvert County, like the State of Maryland, has a reputation for not always being friendly to businesses. The strides being made to shake those unwanted reputations were celebrated Thursday evening, Oct. 20 at the Rod ‘N’ Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach. The fabled restaurant—part of the Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa complex—was the venue for the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce 2016 annual Meeting and Excellence Awards Dinner.

“This is the biggest-attended chamber dinner we’ve ever had,” declared Calvert Chamber President and CEO William Chambers. The organizations 2016 board of directors blends large and small business leaders along with representatives from the Calvert of Southern Maryland, Calvert Memorial Hospital, the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, Calvert County Public Schools and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.

One of Calvert County’s newest residents served as the event’s keynote speaker. Former state lawmaker and Washington County resident Christopher Shank, who now serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s deputy chief of staff, stated that as the halfway point of his four-year term approaches, Maryland’s chief executive remains focused on “improving the economy, making Maryland more business friendly.” Shank, who declared himself “an adopted son of Calvert County,” said the Hogan Administration has tried to accomplish the goals through elimination of some onerous taxes, fees and regulations. Shank said prior to Hogan’s election Maryland’s economic growth rate was rated 49th among the 50 states. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2013 Maryland’s real gross domestic product showed zero growth from the previous year. Only the District of Columbia and Alaska fared worse. Currently, Shank stated, Maryland has the fastest growth rate in the nation. Shank also reported that as a result of Hogan’s recent business trip to Israel, several companies from that nation will be relocating in Maryland.

Awards presented during the evening including the bestowing of the John C. Smith Public Service award to community advocate and philanthropist Marianne Harms. Chambers noted that Harms has been involved with several successful ventures in Calvert, including Calvert Marine Museum, Calvert Memorial Hospital, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Annmarie Garden and Calvert Hospice. “Marianne Harms is a distinguished, caring generous individual and a prolific champion for the county and region,” said Chambers. Recently, Harms created a $1 million endowment to establish a scholarship aiding local College of Southern Maryland students.

The award’s namesake, John C. Smith, now a resident of Anne Arundel, attended the awards dinner. He told The BayNet he is now involved in committee work within the Maryland General Assembly. While living in Calvert for over 30 years and employed with Baltimore Gas and Electric, Smith led the organization of the Calvert Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Calvert County.

Other awards were given to No Thyme to Cook as the Home-Based Business of the Year, Mully’s Brewery for being the New Business of the Year, Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins of Lusby, which received the Small Business award; and Heather Maertens of Maertens Jewelry and Fine Gifts and Penny James Jewelry Company, who was named Chamber Member of the Year for 2016. Committee awards that were given out were received by Patricia Marple for Ambassador of the Year, Michael Freeberger for Leadershare Member of the Year, Stacy Johnson, who was selected Women to Women Member of the Year and Sarah Childs, who was named Young Professionals Network Member of the Year.

According to the local chamber, in 2016 over 80 entities (businesses and organizations) have become members. The membership count is currently 419.

Contact Marty Madden at