BOOMTOWN 2.0 – Crisfield Economic Revitalization Strategy

The above photo is of the Crisfield Depot (City Dock), taken from the Captain’s Quarters Condos (Matt Riggin Photo). The Depot, for over a century, was the epicenter of Crisfield’s commercial activity. It was the terminus for the railroad and a primary location for exporting seafood. The railroad left decades ago, and Crisfield is no longer exporting enough seafood to sustain the local economy. Nowadays, Somerset – the county where Crisfield is located – has the highest poverty rate in the State and ranks at or near the bottom of practically every economic category in MD as well. For many, many years, Crisfield has expressed interest in launching a tourism industry to revitalize the economy. The progress, however, has been been minimal and many believe there’s been no progress at all.

In 2013, my daughter – who was 9 years old at that time – asked me if Crisfield was going to still be here when she grew up. I was disheartened, for I could tell she loved her hometown, and that I’ve witnessed its decline and had done nothing to stop the downward trend. It was at this time that I began researching, collecting data, etc to better understand what revitalizing Crisfield’s economy would actually entail.

My findings are that economic revitalization is not only possible for Crisfield, but there’s tremendous potential for an extraordinary amount of prosperity. To achieve this, however, will require great changes being made – essentially – the city will have to be rebuilt. I’ve produced a strategic plan that I’ve titled, ‘BOOMTOWN 2.0’ which explains a process that, based upon my research, is sound and if aggressively pursued will produce results. I’ve put the entire strategic plan online, and created a webpage for each subsection, the links for them are located below.

Hopefully, everyone who cares about the future of Crisfield will take the time to read the proposed strategic plan and that there will be many who find it sound and support it undergoing further consideration and feasibility studies done on it.

There will, undoubtedly, be some who reject this for one or many reasons. Sadly, an aura of pessimism has loomed over Crisfield for quite some time, causing some to think negatively about any idea presented. Some will reject this strategy because it wasn’t theirs or is different from what they think should be done. I’m expecting some will feel the strategy is too ambitious and unrealistic. I address this attitude, and many others, in the strategic plan, but the truth of the matter is, ambitious thinking is what made Crisfield the ‘Seafood Capital of the World,’ and this must be repeated to revitalize our city. Another area that I expect this plan will face opposition is with the drastic increase in traffic that will result if it’s pursued and is successful. Crisfield will no longer be the sleepy little town that it is now, and trust me, I like knowing everybody and would love Crisfield to stay just how it is. However, and make no mistake about it, if the current trajectory isn’t drastically changed, Crisfield will continue to decline until it is no more.

The picture below is the same as the one above, and the image overlaid is a draft of a major attraction that is intended to facilitate a steady flow of traffic into Crisfield. I’ve titled the building the ‘Chesapeake Adventure & Discovery Center’ (CA&DC) and the preliminary plans are included in the links below.

Essentially, the CA&DC is designed to use our history, heritage and culture to bring in students on educational field trips, and there is an aquarium included for this purpose as well. There is a stage for concerts, movies, etc, that can be used for both outdoor and indoor events. The top floor is an observation deck for sight-seeing, etc.

Below is the cover for the strategic plan, and the links for each sub-section. Thank you for your interest.

Joe Paden


Section 1 – Situation Assessment Report

1.1 Disclosure

➢ 1.2 Purpose of Report & Strategic Plan

1.3 Overview of Report & Strategic Plan

➢ 1.4 Identifying the Goals & Objectives

➢ 1.5 Current Situation & How We got Here

➢ 1.6 Analysis of Crisfield’s Current Tourism Activity

Section 2 – Establishing the Crisfield Tourism Industry (CTI)

➢ 2.1 Primary Objective of Strategic Plan

➢ 2.2 Targeting Specific Types of Tourism Traffic

➢ 2.3 The Traffic Generator – A Major Attraction

➢ 2.4 Creating a Narrative that will Sell

➢ 2.5 Bringing the Narrative to Life

➢ 2.6 Producing Supplemental Traffic at the Major Attraction

➢ 2.7 Location of the Major Attraction

➢ 2.8 The Design & Details of the Major Attraction

Section 3:  Building the New Crisfield

➢ 3.1 Summary of the Rebuilding Process

➢ 3.2 Generating Public Support

➢ 3.3 Tourism Services, Amenities & Supplemental Attractions (TSA&SAs)

➢ 3.4 Coordinating Traffic Flow

➢ 3.5 Walking Corridor

➢ 3.6 Parking & Municipal Owned Properties

➢ 3.7 Additional Attractions

➢ 3.8 Moving Forward

➢ 3.9  Closing Statement.