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ESRGC Celebrates 20 Years of Service
ESRGC's current SU Downtown location opened in 2018.

ESRGC Celebrates 20 Years of Service

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University’s Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC) recently celebrated 20 years of service providing geographic information system (GIS) services and web applications across Maryland and beyond.

“I never imagined that our little idea of coming together to bring technical services to the Eastern Shore would grow into the center of excellence it is today,” said Dr. Michael Scott, ESRGC director and dean of SU’s Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology. “One of the best things about the ESRGC is the example it sets. It’s continued existence shows that a small group of people dedicated to bedrock operating principles like operational excellence, public service, and operating with absolute integrity can make a real difference in their community.”  

While mapping, technology, data analysis and needs of communities have consistently evolved over the last two decades, the ESRGC’s commitment to people and to service have remained at the forefront of the cooperative’s mission. 

“Our success is directly tied to decades of relationship building,” said Lauren McDermott, practice manager. “ESRGC staff take the time to understand regional needs, focus on solutions and build trust. We stay true to the goal of providing services that, in our community and region, would not have been able to happen otherwise, no matter how big or small a project may be.” 

Since its launch in January 2004, the ESRGC has leveraged funding from the Upper, Mid- and Lower Shore regional councils to earn more than $13.9 million in grants and contracts. The regional councils’ funding, supplemented by GIS grants and contracts, has allowed the ESRGC to deliver top-quality GIS services and products to the municipalities and counties of the region for either a significantly reduced or non-existent fee.

“We are one of the largest and longest serving continuously operating GIS organizations in the state,” said Dr. Arthur Lembo, ESRGC technical director and chair of SU’s Geography and Geosciences Department. “The fact that we are self-funded and have strong leadership and a staff who are passionate about what they do keep us from becoming complacent, and we are always striving to make a difference in our stakeholders with GIS.” 

ESRGC’s projects and success span beyond the Eastern Shore, including ongoing broadband mapping projects through federal and state funds, the most recent being a $2.44 million grant from the Maryland Office of Statewide Broadband in 2022. 

The triumph of a localized ESRGC resiliency project during the COVID-19 pandemic, made possible by a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, sparked Maryland Department of Commerce interest to continue the useful data visualization and analysis solutions for the state some four years later.  

As of December 2023, the ESRGC signed on 18 new projects, generating $559,671 in fee-for-service contract costs in the last quarter alone, not including ongoing projects or continuations.

“The work and growing technology continuously excites the ESRGC staff,” said McDermott. “When your focus is truly giving the best product to someone, it’s easy to continue to push yourselves to stay up to date and always searching for the thing that no one else is able to do yet. We all love to keep learning and are never satisfied with the bare minimum when we know we can create something new and even better.” 

The ESRGC’s connection to SU is more than an outreach entity. It represents a pipeline of hands-on experiential learning for student interns and cutting-edge education from ESRGC staff who also teach undergraduate geography courses as well as classes for SU’s nationally ranked online master’s degree program in geographic information systems. 

“The piece of this that I am most proud of isn’t the projects completed or even the service provided but the young people we have trained and launched into successful GIS careers, across our State and beyond,” said Scott. 

The cooperative has welcomed over 200 SU interns (90% of its staff are SU alumni) and has trained dozens of the state’s leading GIS professionals in government, non-profit and the private sector. 

“Lauren is one of the strongest GIS managers I've ever met these last 20 years,” said Lembo. “She has created an environment that pushes our staff to continually offer the best solutions, while at the same time creating an enriching work environment where people feel they are valued. I know no matter how GIS technology and needs change in the next 20 years that the ESRGC will play a big role in it”     

For more information visit the ESRGC’s website.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.