Home to Maryland’s Coast
Worcester County was created in 1742 through a partition of the eastern half of Somerset County. This subdivision was the second step toward the formation of the LESMD Region as it appears on maps today – the first being the creation of Somerset itself in 1666. At the time of its formation Worcester County had long boasted a port of entry on the Pocomoke River in the town of Snow Hill (chartered 1686). With its deep water access to the Chesapeake Bay and central location Snow Hill was made the county seat of the newly formed Worcester. At the same time a river settlement today known as Pocomoke City continued to develop steadily until the arrival of the railroad in the 1880’s brought rapid growth.
Plans to develop a seaside resort area on Worcester’s Atlantic coast were hatched as early as the 1830’s. Soon after the Civil War the extension of the railroad from Salisbury, in newly formed Wicomico County, spurred the construction of simple boarding houses in the coastal area. At the same time a decision was made to survey the area for the development of “The Ladies’ Resort to the Ocean”. In 1875 the first major hotel was opened, with incorporation of the town of Ocean City occurring shortly thereafter. Generations of robust development in and around Ocean City has created a world class tourism infrastructure with an economic impact felt in every corner of the LESMD Region and the State of Maryland. There can be no doubt – LESMD is home to Maryland’s Coast.
Bringing in over 8 million visitors per year, tourism is the leading industry in Worcester County next to agriculture and in FY20 generated $239 million in state and local taxes. A growing health care sector comprises an increasing percentage of activity in the northern portion of the county. Private sector industries generate $2.0 billion in economic output in the area and support over 20,000 jobs. Major employers in the area include Atlantic General Hospital, Bel-Art Products and The Harrison Group (hotel & restaurant). The 175 acre Pocomoke Industrial Park is the largest manufacturing hub in the county.
Worcester Technical High School provides 9-12 grade students the opportunity to receive career and technical education prior to graduation. Program opportunities include Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVACR), Hospitality and Tourism Management and Agriculture Science among others. Students receive hands-on experience designed to prepare them for placement in the local workforce or continuing education.
Economic Development Projects
Regional economic development projects on the regional level include plans for Phase III of expansion and improvements to the Ocean City Convention Center. This phase of the project calls for the creation of an access channel to the Ocean City Convention Center pier area, with additional improvements to include floating docks and water taxi terminal at the convention citer boardwalk.
In the addition, the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex reflects the county’s efforts to develop further the burgeoning travel sports sector. The project includes the acquisition of additional property and further expansion of playing fields.