James Rada Jr.
Thurmont is one of the leading business creators in Frederick County, according to the database used by the Frederick County Office of Economic Development.
Data Axle (formerly Reference USA) reports on businesses by zip code across the country. In the Thurmont zip code (21788), Data Axle reports there are 468 businesses, and second only to the Frederick zip codes in the county.
Thurmont Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder said, “That sounds about right. Thurmont is pro-business. We promote our businesses, and more importantly, we retain our businesses.”
She said being pro-business is not always about attracting new businesses. You also need to retain them, which, in times like these, can mean helping them stay open.
“We have not lost any businesses during this pandemic, and we have even opened some,” Grinder said.
During the months of the pandemic last year, Thurmont saw ribbon-cuttings for three new businesses: Tracie’s House of Hair in July, Thurmont Veterinary Clinic in August, and Beautiful You Salon and Spa in October.
It is not surprising that Frederick, the county seat and largest city in the county, by far, dominates with the number of businesses in its zip code. However, Thurmont, Walkersville, and Brunswick are all roughly the same size, and Thurmont has nearly the same number of businesses (468) as Walkersville (302) and Brunswick (200) combined.
Grinder attributes the larger number, in part, to initiatives like the Thurmont Business Network. Any Thurmont business is welcome to the meetings to hear speakers, talk about business opportunities, and share knowledge.
The town also runs advertising, promoting the town’s businesses and recognizing successful businesses with its “You Make Thurmont Proud” awards. The advertising even tied into the small-town and parks aspect with a tagline: “We’ve been socially distancing for decades.”
The town also started helping local businesses with micro-grants before the federal government announced it would reimburse such programs through CARES Act.
“I’m here to tell you… that $1,000 that was given to those businesses… people cried,” Grinder told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners during a recent meeting.
Some of the leading employers in Thurmont include NVR, R.R. Donnelly, Criswell Chevrolet, and Playground Specialists. However, the town also has lots of small businesses that employ just a handful of people.
Besides storefront businesses, the numbers also include home-based businesses. Grinder estimated that home businesses probably make up 75 to 100 of the Thurmont-area businesses.