Benchworks Named One of Fastest-Growing US Companies

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Thad Bench

Benchworks has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Benchworks is ranked at number 933 with a three-year sales growth of 471%. The company consists of two growing specialty units: Benchworks
Marketing Communications and Safe Chain Solutions, a national distributor of pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. Benchworks was also ranked #8 in the Top Baltimore Companies category.

This is the third year that Benchworks has been included on the Inc. 5000 list and the 2017 roster is one of the most competitive lists to date. The Inc. 5000 rankings are based on three-year sales growth and revenue. Last year, Benchworks ranked at 1005 with a three-year sales growth of 395% and revenue of $31.1 million. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

“The Inc. 5000 is the most persuasive evidence I know that the American Dream is still alive,”
said Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “The founders and CEOs of the Inc.
5000 tell us they think determination, risk taking, and vision were the keys to their success, and I
believe them.”

“We are honored to receive this award again for our consistent rapid growth,” said Thad Bench
Sr., CEO of Benchworks. “We could not have achieved this milestone without the help of all our
terrific employees at Safe Chain and Benchworks Marketing. Our goal is to continue to advance
our role as a commercialization partner and connect with other potential affiliates. We are
working toward that goal through planned strategic growth.”

Safe Chain, a Benchworks Company, continues to thrive and it sets Benchworks apart from other
agencies and pharmaceutical distribution companies. Benchworks offers more than marketing,
helping clients build out operations, providing support during mergers and acquisitions, and
introducing clients to manufacturing partners and sources of capital.

Companies on the 2017 list will be honored at the 36th annual Inc. 5000 conference October 10 –
12 in Palm Desert, California. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and
an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region and other criteria, can be found here.

Benchworks, an award-winning comprehensive marketing services agency headquartered in
Chestertown, Maryland, was founded in 1991. The company specializes in the design, production,
and launch of complete marketing and branding services. Clients include a wide variety of
companies in the life science, pharmaceutical, beverage, manufacturing, and education industries
in North America and Europe. For additional information, visit the Benchworks website or call
800-536- 4670.

Labor Day Cheat Sheet: The History behind the Holiday

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One of our Spies was able to locate this recent online interview with Linda Stinson, a former U.S. Department of Labor’s historian, provided us with some answers about the history of Labor Day.

Q: What’s the history of Labor Day? How did it all begin?

A: The Labor Day holiday is interesting because it evolved over a period of years. In 19th century America, there was already a tradition of having parades, picnics and various other celebrations in support of labor issues, such as shorter hours or to rally strikers. But most historians emphasize one specific event in the development of today’s modern Labor Day. That pivotal event was the parade of unions and a massive picnic that took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.

At that time, the labor movement was growing stronger. Many of the unions in New York prospered by joining together into one Central Labor Union made up of members from many local unions. On May 14, 1882, a proposal was made at the Central Labor Union meeting that all workers should join together for a “monster labor festival” in early September. A committee of five people was appointed to find a park for the celebration. They chose Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue, the largest park in New York City at that time; the date was set for Tuesday, September 5. By June, they had sold 20,000 tickets with the proceeds going to each local union selling them. In August, the Central Labor Union passed a resolution “that the 5th of September be proclaimed a general holiday for the workingmen in this city.”

At first they were afraid that the celebration was going to be a failure. Many of the workers in the parade had to lose a day’s pay in order to participate. When the parade began only a handful of workers were in it, while hundreds of people stood on the sidewalk jeering at them. But then slowly they came – 200 workers and a band from the Jewelers’ Union showed up and joined the parade. Then came a group of bricklayers with another band. By the time they reached the park, it was estimated that there were 10,000 marchers in the parade in support of workers.

The park was decorated with flags of many nations. Everyone picnicked, drank beer and listened to speeches from the union leadership. In the evening, even more people came to the park to watch fireworks and dance. The newspapers of the day declared it a huge success and “a day of the people.”

After that major event in New York City, other localities began to pick up the idea for a fall festival of parades and picnics celebrating workers.

Q: Can you clear up some confusion: who is the father of Labor Day?

A: When studying the history of Labor Day, two names stand out, and the funny thing is that they sound just alike. One is Peter J. McGuire, a leading official in the American Federation of Labor and organizer of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. The other is Matthew Maguire, a machinist from the Knights of Labor. The problem with declaring a single “founder” of Labor Day is that, at the time, no one realized that a new national holiday was being born. It was only after the fact that people tried to pinpoint a single founding father.

Seven years after that first New York Labor Day parade, the union journal for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters published an article claiming that their union brother, McGuire, made the original proposal to have the Labor Day event in New York and called for one day a year to be set aside as Labor Day. This article was reprinted yearly, and it became the common assumption that these were the facts.

However, in 1967, a retired machinist from Maguire’s union stepped up and claimed that his union brother was, in fact, the true originator of the movement for a national Labor Day. He pointed to an old newspaper article written nine years after the New York Labor Day parade titled “Labor Day: Its History and Development in the Land.” This article claimed that the first Secretary of the Central Labor Union, Maguire, was the one who arranged the parade. This claim was supported six years later when the grand marshal of the New York parade of 1882 himself reminisced about how Maguire from the Knights of Labor had first suggested that the Central Labor Union call upon the unions of New York City to join together in a labor parade.

So the historical conundrum seems to hinge on the fact that the two names sound alike and were probably mixed up in the common consciousness. Toss in the years of bitter rivalry between the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor and, of course, you’re going to have multiple heroes emerging in the legend of Labor Day.

I don’t really know if there is only one true parent of Labor Day. But when former Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz spoke at the convention of the International Association of Machinists in 1968, he said: “My decision…is that there is no question as to who is the father of Labor Day in this country. Officially, as of this moment, insofar as the Department of Labor is concerned, it is Matt Maguire, machinist!” So in the question of McGuire versus Maguire, I don’t really know. But my money backs Bill Wirtz every time!

Q: When did it become a national holiday and why?

A: Labor Day as a national, legal holiday had an interesting evolution. The legalized celebration of Labor Day began as individual state celebrations. In 1887, New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to approve state legal holidays. Then other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days. Finally, in response to a groundswell of support for a national holiday celebrating the nation’s workers, Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to the 53rd Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the first Monday of September each year. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

Benchworks Launches New Website

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Chestertown, MD, June 29, 2017 – ” Benchworks is pleased to announce that it recently launched a new website. The site gives visitors to www.benchworks.com a comprehensive view of the marketing firm which is headquartered in Chestertown, Maryland, at 954 High Street.

The new site presents Benchworks as “a new breed of agency” and highlights the company’s capabilities, such as brand development and strategy, creative services, digital services, public relations, brand team and operational support, and tactical plan creation and execution. It showcases the agency’s leadership and staff while offering a look into the agency’s philosophy as well as its interaction and strategic insight processes.

Sally Reed, Benchworks Vice President of Digital spearheaded the website project. “Our Creative Director Jake King concepted a fresh, contemporary look for the site to coordinate with content that reflects the direction of the agency. Benchworks has an impressive body of work and this responsive site displays what we offer our clients, both in terms of creative design and execution,” Sally said.

Melissa Johnston, President of Benchworks, said, “At Benchworks, we are proud of the clients we represent and the marketing initiatives we have performed to achieve our mission which is to improve lives through marketing. This new website highlights our unique culture and core capabilities while it provides insight, information, and a reference point for visitors.”

Benchworks, a comprehensive marketing services agency headquartered in Chestertown, Maryland, was founded in 1991. With offices in Philadelphia and Boston, the company specializes in the design, production, and launch of complete marketing and branding services. Clients include a wide variety of companies in the life science, pharmaceutical, beverage, manufacturing, and education industries in North America and Europe. For additional information, visit the new Benchworks website or call 800-536-4670.

About Agency LRB

Located in Philadelphia’s Fishtown area, Agency LRB enhances Benchworks’ ability to serve an expanding list of national clients, providing greater access to the agency’s award-winning quality services. The location takes full advantage of the depth of creative talent that can be found in one of Philadelphia’s hippest, most artistic neighborhoods. The name of the agency reflects the initials of Benchworks CEO Thad Bench’s father, Leigh R. Bench.

About Safe Chain

Safe Chain is a rapidly growing distributor serving customers worldwide through its two divisions: Logistics Solutions and Healthcare Solutions. Headquartered in Cambridge, Maryland, the company has a sales office in Miami as well as Annapolis, Maryland. For more information, visit Safe Chain’s website or call 855-43PL-SCS (855-437-5727).

All pictures from the new Benchworks website.

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Making it Work on the Shore: Reinventing Downtown Easton with Ross Benincasa

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In years past, the role of a director of a downtown association would consist of managing and promoting a series of special events created to encourage retail shopping. Special days like “First Friday” and free concert programs have become the standard practice to bring residents and their families to their downtown districts, but is that enough in a country that soon can expect same day delivery from internet sellers?

The answer coming from Ross Benincasa, the Easton Business Alliance’s director, is a definite “no.” While special events remain important strategies, the work of promoting downtown shopping has become increasingly more sophisticated as Ross notes in his first Spy interview.

Specifically, Benincasa, the EBA Board, and Easton’s Town Council are now looking such things as downtown “walkability” improvements and studying pedestrian navigation patterns to significantly improve the experience of shopping. In fact, through Ross’ initiation, the town was the recent recipient of a $145,000 grant from Google to implement its new store view program, allowing app users to peek inside stores, restaurants, and public institutions like libraries and museums, before actually stepping into those venues. The grant also provides Easton a generous advertising budget to go into Washington and Baltimore media markets with its message.

The Spy caught up with Ross at the Bullitt House, where the Easton Business Alliance has their offices, to talk about the future of downtown Easton, its current challenges, and a very encouraging forecast that Easton is well positioned to adjust to this changing climate and maintain its position as one of the Eastern Shore’s most popular shopping hubs.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about the Easton Business Alliance please go here.

 

Nearly 200 Stakeholders Discuss Internet Access Equity at Regional Rural Broadband Forum

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When nearly 200 business leaders, economic development professionals and state and local government officials came together to discuss bringing affordable, high-speed internet service to rural Maryland, the “why” was not up for debate. However, when it came to “how” the options were numerous and the financing was challenging to say the least.

Josh Hastings, RMC chair, addresses the attendees at the recent Regional Rural Broadband Forum. Photo credit: Harry Bosk.

Hosted by event partners the Rural Maryland Council and USDA Rural Development, the program titled the Regional Rural Broadband Forum was presented recently in Annapolis. The forum unofficially launched the work of a special task force enacted by Maryland’s General Assembly, which was signed into law on May 25.

Charlotte Davis, executive director of the Rural Maryland Council, chairs the Task Force on Rural Internet, Broadband, Wireless and Cellular Service. Over the next several months, Davis and her colleagues will research redundancies and gaps in service and funding options needed to bring digital equity to rural Maryland. By November the task force will report its findings and recommendations to Governor Hogan.

The program included six sessions providing attendees with information ranging from the different broadband technologies commonly used in rural communities to best practices used in New York’s “Broadband for All” initiative.

The day’s discussions often came back to how to create sustainable high-speed broadband access in areas with low population density. “Admittedly for a business whose mission is to turn a profit providing high speed internet in rural areas is a recipe for market failure,” said Davis. “Clearly the solution will be providing incentives and grants to make the project more doable and attractive,” she added.

Attendees at a group session at the recent Regional Rural Broadband Forum, hosted by event partners the Rural Maryland Council (RMC) and USDA Rural Development (RD). The forum included six sessions providing attendees with information ranging from the different broadband technologies commonly used in rural communities to best practices used in New York’s “Broadband for All” initiative.

The tone of the forum remained optimistic despite the acknowledgement that there will be no easy solutions. “We cannot have an equal society without equal access to broadband,” said RMC chair Josh Hastings.

Chiming in on that note was Maryland State Senator Adelaide C. Eckardt. “It is all about getting connected and for us (in rural areas) it is the art of the possible. It all works better when we work together,” she said.

Founded in 1994, the Rural Maryland Council serves as the state’s federally designated rural development council and functions as a voice for rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communities and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity to its suburban and urban counterparts. To learn more call (410) 841-5774, email rmc.mda@maryland.gov or connect with the Rural Maryland Council at facebook.com/RuralMaryland or on Twitter @RuralMaryland.

USDA Rural Development is committed to improving the economy and quality of life in rural America. RD provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit the USDA website,

For more information on the Regional Rural Broadband Forum, call (410) 841-5774 or visit their website.

 

Mid-Shore Pro Bono Opens Centreville Office

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Mid-Shore Pro Bono recently opened an office in Centreville, MD located near the Queen Anne’s County Court House at 108 Broadway. This new location provides direct access to Upper Mid-Shore residents in need of civil legal advice and services and enhances Mid Shore Pro Bono’s presence as a community-based service provider in Queen Anne’s and Kent counties.

Court Liaison and Bilingual Staff Member, Ivette Salarich.

“The rural nature of the Mid-Shore makes it challenging for low-income residents to access the legal services they need,” said Sandy Brown, Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive Director. “Our new Centreville location gives us a physical presence in Queen Anne’s County where we can strengthen relationships with volunteer attorneys, court personnel and community based organizations. Developing these connections helps us better serve our clients and refer them to the resources they need near their homes or work.”

The Centreville office is open Monday-Thursday from 10:00am – 4:00pm and offers bilingual services in English and Spanish. Walk-ins are welcome and no appointments are necessary. Mid-Shore Pro Bono staff members are available to assist with the intake process, referrals to community resources and space is also available for clinics and private meetings between clients and their volunteer attorneys.

About Mid-Shore Pro Bono

Mid-Shore Pro Bono Mid-Shore Pro Bono connects low-income individuals and families who need civil legal services with volunteer attorneys and community resources. The organization serves citizens of Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties. For more information, to apply for services or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.

Maryland 3.0: Making Eastern Shore Towns “Cool”

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Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, 34, has a floor-to-ceiling erasable board dotted with Post-it notes on the longest wall of his office.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day

It’s a jarring display of terrestrial organization for a millennial, but Day is hardly old school. He’s got two masters degrees, one from Carnegie Mellon in urban design and the other from Oxford in environmental policy. He is also an officer in the Maryland National Guard and a local boy whose father was recently named COO of Perdue Farms.

“There were moments when, as a 9-year-old living in Salisbury, I was thinking I really want to be mayor in this town,” said Day.

So he’s had plenty of time to think about how he’d change things in a city with a history of helter-skelter development and a stubborn crime rate.

“The biggest thing for us has been arts, entertainment and culture,” Day explained. “Recognizing that those things can be more than an ancillary benefit, but a driver has been big for us.”

Day is staring down a core problem in rural Maryland: People are dying faster than they’re being replaced, and where they’re not the numbers are trending that way. So retaining residents and attracting new ones is vital. Because creating jobs, enticing new industries and rebuilding infrastructure matters little if there’s no one around to fill those jobs, drive on those new roads or enjoy those renovated downtowns.

And cities like Salisbury, Frederick and Cumberland — small urban anchors in Maryland’s rural areas — could be where the revitalization begins.

Or where it’s already underway.

A matter of life and death

Garrett, Allegany, Kent, Talbot, Dorchester, Somerset and Worcester counties all had more deaths than births in 2015, according Maryland’s Vital Statistics Report. Leading the way on the Eastern Shore was Kent, which had a third fewer births than deaths. In Western Maryland it was Allegany, where the disparity was 27 percent.

In Wicomico County, where Salisbury is located, the numbers are rosier. In 2015, births beat deaths by 36 percent. However, in 2010 that number was 50 percent. The same trend is there for Frederick County, where births outpaced death two to one in 2010, but slowed to five for every three in 2015.

Population problems in rural areas tend to get framed in economic terms. The argument goes that young people won’t stay if there are no jobs, but the jobs won’t come if there are no young people to fill them. But the jobs are there.

According to Maryland’s Workforce Exchange, there were more than 600 open job listings in Wicomico County, the majority of which were in Salisbury. The numbers are similar in Frederick and Allegany, with more than 500 open job listings in both counties as of late April.

“The problem is that we’re just not adding people at the same rate that we’re adding jobs,” Day said.

Part of the challenge includes boosting the quality, pay and benefits of available jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a pronounced economic shift in Salisbury over the last 10 years from producing things to delivering services — and with it, more jobs that tend to pay less and come with fewer benefits.

In order to sell employment that might not stack up salary-wise to urban areas, mayors like Day and Randy McClement in the city of Frederick are increasingly turning to what they can offer instead: quality of life.

“The thing we’ve been able to do is make Frederick a destination,” said McClement, who’s been mayor there since 2009. “We’ve done that with a hip feel. Millennials are looking for a livable, walkable city. By delivering that, we’re attracting the younger generation.”

The city of Frederick, basically the model for small to mid-size urban redevelopment in Maryland, has the luxury of being perched at the top of I-270 corridor, in commuting distance to job-rich Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County. Salisbury is more remote, and the people who live near it more reliant on its services.

When asked what Salisbury’s 33,000-odd residents needs most, Day points first to an intangible.

“The thing we struggle to overcome more than anything else is a change to our community self-esteem,” he said. “We look to ourselves in a poorer light than any metric would suggest that we should.”

Day is referring in part to Salisbury’s crime problem. According to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the city’s violent crime rate per 100,000 people in 2015 was almost double the state average, though it has fallen in recent years.

“We’ve had some dark times and those things linger,” said Day. “It’s easy to latch onto them as your identity and it’s a lot tougher to get people to believe that things aren’t so bad.”

Downtown Salisbury

To help put the past behind, Day wants to remake pretty much the entire city. And, thanks to a partnership he initiated between Salisbury and the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning, he has a blueprint to do it.

It focuses on the city’s urban core, dividing it into seven neighborhoods, and includes everything from streetscape redesign to newly constructed modern buildings and bridges along the city’s riverwalk on either side of the Wicomico River, which snakes west to east through Salisbury’s center.

Day is hyperfocused on the city’s physical appearance, particularly its branding and signage, but also its benches, planters and trash cans, which are not uniform at present and clearly bother the mayor’s design sense.

Salisbury’s master plan has a proposed price tag of about $640 million over 20 years, nearly 75 percent of which is meant to come from private sector investment. The plan is aggressive and maybe unrealistic, but also visionary. And perhaps no surprise from a mayor with an undergraduate degree in architecture and a masters in urban planning.

Day is also pursuing smaller, less costly efforts at rebranding Salisbury, including being a finalist to host the National Folk Festival for three years, a 175,000-person event that takes place over a long fall weekend each year. Prior hosts include Nashville and Richmond, with Greensboro, N.C., as the event’s current location.

Finally, one of the simpler efforts Day and his team are doing is something called 3rd Fridays, where the city organizes arts and crafts vendors and live music in the city’s historic quarter.

“We had to focus on our own market first so we stopped worrying about the beaches and Baltimore and Washington for a minute and tried to figure out how to get local people to show up,” Day said.

Initial funding for 3rd Fridays the first year was around $20,000. In 2016, it was $280,000.

Given the size and scope of his efforts, it’s fair to question Day’s ability to keep all of them on track, including management of Salisbury’s 435 city employees.

But Day is a believer in using data to make decisions and runs his weekly management meetings like a military battle briefing. Each of his department heads have between four and six key metrics that they measure and then provide updates on on a weekly basis. These include things like potholes filled and lane miles paved and travel time on fire department calls.

“We’re measuring constantly and we’re making decisions based on that,” said Day, his enthusiasm growing as he drills down on yet another topic. “The weakness is the linkage to mapping. We need to reinvent our use of GIS (geographic information systems).”

Something Day will probably incorporate into his briefings soon.

by J.F. Meils

Emil Andrusko of Benchworks Named One of the 2017 ” PM360 ELITE 100″

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Andrusko, Sr., Vice President of Pharmaceutical Strategy at Benchworks in Chestertown, MD

PM360, the premier magazine and information resource for marketing decision makers in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, has named Emil Andrusko, Sr. Vice President of Pharmaceutical Strategy at  Benchworks, as one of the  2017 PM360 ELITE 100 in the Mentor category. Now in its third year, the PM360 ELITE (Exceptional • Leaders • Innovators • Transformers • Entrepreneurs) represent the most influential people in the healthcare industry today.

Emil joined Benchworks in 2014. He is primarily responsible for market development within the biopharmaceutical market, as well as strategic planning and direction for a variety of existing clients. Emil has 30 years of sales and marketing experience in the pharmaceutical industry with Wyeth and Pfizer. He has held numerous executive sales and marketing leadership positions in numerous therapeutic categories and has a track record of innovation and driving growth for brands.

Emil commented on the award saying, “I am extremely humbled by this recognition. It is truly an honor to be recognized for being a mentor as this is a passion of mine. I have taken the time to mentor many colleagues during my career and believe it is important to help them attain their professional goals.”

The PM360 ELITE Awards were established in 2015 to recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on the healthcare industry throughout their careers. More than 500 submissions were received and nominees were evaluated based on their accomplishments; testimonials from their bosses, clients, and colleagues; and supporting evidence that reflects the impact of their efforts. A total of 100 winners were selected across 18 categories, including Creative Directors, Data Miners, Digital Crusaders, Disrupters, Drug Researchers and Developers, Entrepreneurs, Launch Experts, Leaders of the Future, Marketing Teams, Master Educators, Mentors, Patient Advocates, PR Gurus, Sales MVPs, Strategists, Talent Acquisition Leaders, Tech-know Geeks, and Transformational Leaders.

“Each of the 2017 PM360 ELITE 100 demonstrated immense talent in their ability to impact our industry,” says Anna Stashower, CEO and Publisher of PM360. “These people represent the best the industry has to offer, including veterans who have made their mark over and over and up-and-comers who are just getting started.”

Emil Andrusko and the rest of the winners will be honored at a celebratory event on July 11th in New York City at the rooftop bar 230 FIFTH. Tickets are available for purchase at the PM360 website.   

About PM360

PM360 is the premier, must-read magazine for marketing decision makers in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries. Published monthly, PM360 is the only journal that focuses on delivering the full spectrum of practical information necessary for product managers and pharmaceutical marketing professionals to succeed in the complex and highly regulated healthcare environment.

The journal’s targeted and insightful editorial focuses on issues that directly impact critical decision making, including planning and implementation of cutting edge strategies, trends, the latest technological advances, branding/marketing, advertising/promotion, patient/professional education, sales, market research, PR, and leadership. Additionally, the “360” in the title signifies the span of this critical, how-to info with personal and career insights for an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

By providing the full circle of enriching content, PM360 is truly an indispensable tool for busy and productive marketing professionals to stay at the top of their game.

About Benchworks

Benchworks, a comprehensive marketing services agency headquartered in Chestertown, Maryland, was founded in 1991. With offices in Philadelphia and Boston, the company specializes in the design, production, and launch of complete marketing and branding services. Clients include a wide variety of companies in the life science, pharmaceutical, beverage, manufacturing, and education industries in North America and Europe. For additional information, visit “Benchworks or call 800-536-4670.

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Shore Leadership Class Meets at Wye River Upper School

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The 2017 Shore Leadership class met at Wye River Upper School in Queen Anne’s County on May 24th for the first of 7 sessions.  Two students from Wye River Upper School greeted and welcomed the class to the completely renovated Centreville National Guard Barracks which Wye River now calls home.

The morning session was facilitated by Dr. Joe Thomas on Leading with Strengths.  The class had completed the Strengths Finder assessment and used that information throughout the morning as they worked with Dr. Thomas.

After lunch, Ms. Chrissy Aull, founder and Executive Director of Wye River Upper School discussed the history of the school and why there is a need for schools like Wye River.  Three students shared their stories and talked about how their learning differences held them back at their other schools but that at Wye River their differences have become their strengths and have helped them to be successful.  The students and Ms. Aull gave the class a tour of the renovated campus. 

Dr. Jon Andes, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Education Consortium, spoke to the class about the State of Public Education in Maryland.  He shared the laws the govern Maryland public education and told the class that each year there is a deficit of more than 2000 qualified teachers in Maryland.  The Maryland colleges are not producing enough teachers and students are not enrolling to become teachers.  Neighboring states are also seeing a decline in their teacher education programs. He also shared that since 1986 the nine counties on the Eastern Shore have been part of the ESMEC consortium which gives them a bigger voice with the legislature and with the Maryland State Department of Education.

Later in the afternoon Marci Leach from Chesapeake College and Bryan Newton from Wor-Wic Community College led a discussion and game show which highlighted the role of Community Colleges in today’s world.  Deborah Urry, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Higher Education Center shared information about the baccalaureate and graduate degrees offered at the Center which is located on the Chesapeake College Wye Mills Campus.

Throughout the day the class focused on how strengths can be used as a focus for leadership development.  The next session will be held in Caroline County in June and will deal with the topic of Rural Health Care.