- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Presidential candidates on the campaign trail often make a point of stopping by small businesses for a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza. But on Wednesday, the Charles County Chamber of Commerce turned its focus to the county’s 10 biggest employers.
At the inaugural Economic Engine Awards Luncheon, people chatted over a spaghetti lunch at the Jaycees center in Waldorf as representatives of the 10 relative giants accepted plaques honoring the enterprises for providing the jobs and the paychecks that keep the local economy going.
Walmart operations assistant Louis Gramby Jr. said he “would hope” the recognition his employer received would lure more customers into the La Plata store. Walmart and Sam’s Club have the seventh-greatest number of employees in the county, according to the chamber.
“It’s wonderful. I enjoyed coming and was proud to come and participate,” said Gramby, a Waldorf resident who’d never attended a chamber event before.
Jessica Andritz appreciates the county’s big employers because her husband has worked for two of them, Charles County government and the school board, she joked. Andritz, co-chairwoman of the chamber’s Choose Charles campaign promoting local purchasing, said big players deserve to be honored for their outsized participation in the economy.
“These folks really are the economic engines of the county,” Andritz said.
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative spokesman Tom Dennison enjoyed seeing the region’s bigger players, including his employer, honored, he said.
“I think it’s nice to recognize businesses like us who are a big part of the community,” he said.
The lunch is an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to meet others and be inspired to grow, said chamber President Carlos Montague.
“I think for smaller businesses, it helps you to aspire for something greater. That yes, we have the capacity to grow beyond what we see are these little false boundaries [that suggest] we can’t be a big business. But we can be. For the larger businesses, it helps them get the word out. They are there providing services for the community that people may not necessarily know about,” Montague said.
Small business executive Bill Snitcher, vice president of a bus advertising company in White Plains, said he comes to all the business events he can in search of new clients.
“For me personally, anytime there’s a chamber event it’s a great way to help build my business by being out there talking to people,” he said.
Of the top 10 employers, the four biggest are parts of the government, whose contributions can be overlooked, Montague said.
“We always keep talking about different ways of creating business in the community and that’s part of, that’s one of the tenets of the chamber of commerce, is to try to help that along. We tend to forget that the government is a huge employer, whether that is the local one, or federal being in Indian Head. Those are the people who hire and support the community in very big ways and we just don’t recognize that,” he said.
The county’s 10 largest employers, in descending order, are Charles County government, Charles County Public Schools, Charles County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Support Facility Indian Head, College of Southern Maryland, Civista Medical Center, Walmart and Sam’s Club, Safeway, Facchina Group of Cos., Target, SMECO and SMO, according to the chamber, which used data provided by county government. Altogether, they have 13,106 employees in Charles County.