Easton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC): According to your website, “The Arc’s mission is to serve children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore by creating opportunities for people with disabilities to live, work, and play where and how they choose.” What would you add to that?
Jonathon Rondeau (JR): It’s also important to note that each Arc in Maryland is separately run and incorporated. So, for the last 17 years, The Arc Central Chesapeake Region has been providing services mainly in the Mid Shore region. Since 2018, we have expanded the number of people we serve by 82%. So, part of our strategy now is how to have a greater physical presence as well.
EEDC: And how are you doing that?
JR: We have had a presence in Easton for the last 17 years and are committed to continuing that. Over the last year and a half, we’ve been exploring locations to develop an Eastern Shore headquarters in Easton. Late spring of this year, we identified a lot on Port Street within the Port Street Redevelopment Plan, and we’ve purchased that property. It’s our vision that this would not only be our Eastern Shore headquarters but also create a community hub, which is where people with disabilities and their families could get resources, participate in support groups, that sort of thing. We’re also creating a mixed-use model where there would be eight affordable housing units. The Arc has a housing subsidiary called Chesapeake Neighbors that will be managing these units.
EEDC: How interesting. How far along are you with the housing plan?
JR: We are in the concept phase of that, which will be done in the next couple of weeks. And then, we will be going out to key community members to get people’s input. Our ultimate goal is to break ground and start construction sometime in 2023.
EEDC: How will The Arc be soliciting the community’s response?
JR: This fall, we will have some listening sessions to share our plans with the community and get their feedback. We haven’t scheduled those dates yet, but they’ll be more than one opportunity to give their opinion.
EEDC: How can people find out when these will be?
JR: People can reach out if they’re interested in participating in one of those sessions by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
EEDC: So, what attracted you to the Port Street Redevelopment area?
JR: The property we purchased is right on the Rails-to-Trails that’s being developed. Initially, we were looking and wanted to be downtown. And so this location has the beauty and the flexibility of not only the Easton Parkway because our services are multi-jurisdictional, but also the fact that you can easily walk from this location downtown. It’s sort of the best of both worlds.
I also think that it’s huge that, while the Port Street Redevelopment plan has been in development for many years, our research shows that a lot of developers are also looking at that location. So it seems to be the right location and right time for us to be doing the same.
EEDC: How large is this new headquarter going to be?
JR: It will be about 24,000 square feet, which includes the eight affordable housing units.
EEDC: How many people are currently employed at The Arc?
JR: The Arc as a whole organization has about 400 employees, and we have 30 employees that work directly on the Eastern Shore.
EEDC: What about you, Jonathon? Are you from the area?
JR: I’ve lived in Maryland since 2003 and currently live in Baltimore County. I’ve been with The Arc for a little over four years.
For more information about EEDC, visit https://eastonedc.com/