In the late night 90’s the Mayor of Elkton went to a conference and found out about a program that the town could help form to receive State Grants that could only be applied for by a non-profit 501 c(3).
One night at a town meeting he asked if anyone would like to volunteer his or her time to start an organization to help with the revitalization of Downtown Elkton. Several people stood up for the challenge. One of the volunteers was Mark Clark, a local architect and Elkton resident. Mark Clark recalls his wife asking him to go to a revitalization meeting that Mayor Crouse was holding. “Initially I was skeptical but the urge to help overcame me and I volunteered, the next thing I knew I was chairman. Actually, Sue Whitaker and I were co-chairs; she had the faith and I had the urban planning background.”
Mark remembers how the committee originally wanted to bring back “Olde Elkton” and restore it to its former glory. While these goals were commendable we needed to do a more formal step-by-step planning process. We were hoping for funding and we needed to really do a plan. The plan was completed and one of the recommendations was to establish an organization that became the Elkton Alliance.
His most significant memories were how successful the whole process was and how quick the turn around was. Many people continued the revitalization process. One of my original ideas was to make a good plan and then let the plan lead others to join and do the many tasks required to implement the plan. It worked!
Sue Whitaker, Elkton resident and local business owner, recalls:
“The Mayor’s committee for revitalization was not willing to have their plan gather dust on a shelf as other plans written in the past had done. Implementation was a priority of this group. A consultant was hired to help with the formal organization and a focus group consisting of town officials, community leaders, service organizations, business owners and citizens was called to order. After 6 months of meetings, this focus group had identified a list of priorities required to put the plan into action. And, a core group of committed individuals was in place to run the Elkton Alliance and see to it that the original vision was carried out. Today we still look back on that original plan to make sure we are on track with the work being done and decision being made.”
Work followed immediately with trips to Annapolis to speak to the delegation and to let them know they were on a mission.
The first accomplishment of the group was the renovations to the bridge on Bridge Street. With the help from Senator Walter Baker they named the bridge in his honor. New Welcome to Elkton “The Gateway to the Bay” signs were placed at all entryways into Elkton. And their efforts continued…….
It did not take long for the original reason that Mayor Crouse wanted the group to begin started paying off. Grants were applied for to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Neighborhood Business Works to begin the revitalization of the downtown. With the help from then Chairman of the Board at that time William F. Burkley the Elkton Alliance received over $12 million dollars for the Main Street Streetscape program. It is the second largest funded streetscape project to date.
In the year 2000 the Elkton Alliance merged with the Greater Elkton Chamber of Commerce and is now known as The Elkton Chamber & Alliance and becoming a 501c(6) . In June of 2003 the Town of Elkton received its Maryland Main Street Designation and the Elkton Alliance was asked to run the program for the town. In June 2006, the Elkton Alliance received its Arts & Entertainment District designation and also manages this for the Town of Elkton. We are housed and run the Elkton Visitors Center and attend to the daily visitors that come to Elkton.
Today the grants continue to be available for our organization. Currently we have low interest loan opportunities, and tax credits available for businesses and property owners who would like to make improvements to their buildings. Over the past several years we have initiated partnerships with business and property owners and the Small Business Development Center and the Small Business librarian for start-up businesses. To date, we have received $450,000.00 in grants from the State of Maryland for façade improvements and generated over 2.4 million dollars in downtown building improvements.
We have also been working closely with the Cecil County Economic Development Department to help bring businesses contracting with the Government to the HUB Zone in Elkton. The Alliance has been successful in acquiring a businesses and keeping businesses open during difficult times.
Original Members: Eva Addis, William F. Burkley (deceased), Mark Clark, Connie Dunbar (deceased), Betty Favazza, Patricia Folke, Diane Hair, Elizabeth Kiomall, Morris Kimball (deceased), Sandy Owens, and Sue Whitaker.
Elkton Alliance, Inc.
Incorporated March 27, 1998