Garrett County Chamber of Commerce Releases 2023-2024 Annual Report

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce has released its 2023-2024 Annual Report that highlights its efforts to organize, support, and represent Garrett County’s business community in advancing common interests and additionally to promote Garrett County’s hospitality and recreation industry by attracting visitors to the county through comprehensive marketing. The release of the report coincides with the Chamber’s Annual Membership Meeting & Dinner held at Brodak’s Banquet Hall on Thursday, June 6.

The Fiscal Year proved a fruitful and innovative one for the Chamber, evidenced by the record 69 new businesses and organizations joining as members. Over the past 12 months, the Chamber hosted nearly 1,650 attendees at various events including old favorites such as the Economic Forecast Business Before Hours, presented by R. Andrew Bauer, Senior Regional Economist and Deputy Regional Executive at the Baltimore Branch of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank.

As a companion to the annual Legislative Wrap-Up Business Before Hours the Chamber held its first-ever Pre-Legislative Forum, presented by Senator Mike McKay and Delegate Jim Hinebaugh. The Chamber hosted a Lunch N Learn session featuring lobbyist Mike O’Halloran for “Business Advocacy Tips” as well as organized special seminars to educate employers about the legalization of recreational cannabis and also for the launch of the state’s new tax portal, Maryland Tax Connect. Continuing on the business advocacy front, the Chamber reviewed 2,728 pieces of legislation, tracked 30 bills during the 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly, and worked closely with Mike O’Halloran to effectively influence legislation.

The Chamber engaged in a series of community initiatives. Early in the year, the Chamber partnered with Sunrise Sanitation Services, D’s Eats food trailer, and Kona Ice of Garrett & Allegany Counties to host a Community Shred Day event, raising awareness and promoting privacy protection by offering free and secure onsite shred services. Recently the Chamber helped 28 locals acquire high-quality headshots, elevating their personal profile at a steep discount by conducting a Professional Headshot Day event in cooperation with Smoke N Mirrors Photography. The biggest community impact came when the Chamber partnered with Special Olympics Maryland to hold the first-ever Community Dunk event where 56 participants and 181 donors raised raising nearly $16,000 to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Garrett County.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the continued hard work our Chamber staff strives to deliver for our business owners and organizations,” said Chamber President Andrew Fike. “The large increase of new businesses joining the Chamber this past year as well as the increase in engagement of attendees at our Chamber functions is a true testament to our message and efforts to better serve our business community.”

The Chamber partnered with the Garrett County Department of Business Development to hold ribbon-cutting ceremonies to celebrate the grand openings of 9 new businesses in the county. In an effort to help alleviate workforce challenges faced by local businesses, the Chamber continued working with Garrett County Public Schools and presented Work Ethic Diplomas to 60 students from the graduating Class of 2024. The Chamber’s 20-year partnership with Usource, formerly called Premier Power, saved participating members around $400,000 on their electric bills in the past year. Fiscal Year 24 also saw the reemergence of the Chamber Trip program which has been dormant since COVID shutdown international travel in 2020.

The Chamber’s tourism promotional efforts continue to be very successful. Through March, FY24 Garrett County accommodations collections are a 59% increase over FY19, the last normal year before the pandemic. Through May, visits to the Chamber’s website,, are up 40.6% over last fiscal. Guests to the Visitors Center in McHenry increased by 3.1% in 2023 over 2022 and through April, an impressive 40.7% of FY24 guests to the Visitors Center report seeing Chamber advertising. Through March, Garrett County & Deep Creek Lake Visitor Guide requests have increased 9.7% over 2023 and 2023 requests were up 10.6% over 2022. The Chamber’s Garrett County Small Town Trail promotion won the Maximizing Opportunities Award from the Maryland Office of Tourism in November 2023 and a significant advertising push has been made in local and drive markets to promote Garrett County’s small towns.

“We are excited to see continued positive growth in several key tourism metrics over the last year,” said Sarah Duck, Vice President of Tourism & Marketing. “We have confidence in our marketing strategies and these stats validate that our efforts are effective and yielding strong results for our community. We are also pleased our Small Town Trail has been so well received by visitors and that our guests have enjoyed our towns’ unique attractions, shops, activities and sights.”

The Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area, managed by the Chamber, received applications for 10 mini-grants and awarded 9 of them for a cumulative $25,000. The Heritage Area updated its 5-year plan, revamped the Heritage magazine, ordered an educational kiosk for the Visitors Center and a portable kiosk with a supplemental grant, established an annual heritage preservation award, and promoted the “National Road” collector coin at various local festivals.

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is the largest professional business association in the region with 500 members representing every industry in the community. The mission of the Chamber is to organize, support, and represent Garrett County’s business community in advancing common interests and additionally to promote Garrett County’s hospitality and recreation industry by attracting visitors to the county through comprehensive marketing. The Garrett County Chamber also serves as the Destination Marketing Organization and Heritage Area Management entity for the County.