News Tgccs Blubaugh Lauds Regional Partnership - Garrett College
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Campus News

April 16th, 2024

TGCC's Blubaugh lauds regional partnership

Regional outdoor recreation collaborative seen as economic development boon


TGCC's Delanie Blubaugh served as April's presenter in the Joan Crawford Lecture Series at Garrett College, which took place last Wednesday at the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College.

Delanie Blubaugh said leveraging Mountain Maryland's natural beauty and recreational opportunities to develop the region's economy is the vision behind the Frostburg Outdoor Recreation Economy Institute (FOREI).

"The outdoor recreation economy is possibly the most important economic asset in Mountain Maryland," said Blubaugh, a TGCC program manager who was last Wednesday's Joan Crawford Lecture Series presenter in the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College. TGCC and Frostburg State University are partners in the FSU-based FOREI.

Blubaugh said two things that differentiate Mountain Maryland's economic development potential from other outdoors-oriented regions are location and access to workforce development.

"Our close proximity to several major metropolitan areas puts us at a distinct advantage," said Blubaugh, noting Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Morgantown are all within 150 miles of the region. She said the presence of so many institutions of higher education with a workforce development emphasis – including Western Maryland institutions Garrett College, Allegany College of Maryland (ACM), and FSU – can play a critical role in attracting businesses connected to the outdoor economy.

Blubaugh said all three of those institutions have recently developed programs aimed at training workers in, or interesting them in joining, the outdoor recreation economy. Garrett College's Marine Technician Program, ACM's Bicycle Repair Training Program, and FSU's Center for the Advancement of Natural & Outdoor Experiences (CANOE) all support aspects of the outdoor recreation business community.

FSU and TGCC – which last year entered into a formal partnership – received $1.4 million in grant funding for FOREI. Goals for that funding, which came from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Rural Maryland Council (RMC), include attracting outdoor recreation businesses and workers to the region in order to grow the local economy and reverse 75 years of Mountain Maryland population decline.

"We're seeking to invigorate the regional economy and elevate the lives of our residents," said Blubaugh.