Key UMES official to retire this week

  • Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    By Deborah Gates Daily Times Staff Writer

    Daniel S. Kuennen - 2012

    Daniel S. Kuennen

    PRINCESS ANNE - (Dec. 12, 2012) - Michele Krause followed the road signs to the Lower Shore, while Daniel Kuennen followed the funding sources to get some of them erected.

    Krause found an expanding MaTech Solutions and a new job as contract administrator. Kuennen followed the money that helped fund the expansion at the design and engineering firm that manufactures parts for aerospace, defense and commercial industries.

    While Krause never met Kuennen, she recognizes the economic impact of MaTech, a major regional employer.

    "I don't know the name, but I definitely appreciate the efforts that created this job," Krause said. "It gives you the opportunity to get more work and to grow. We've increased capacity and I have more contracts."

    After more than two decades of securing grants and loans in the hundreds of millions of dollars to further economic development for the economically stressed Lower Eastern Shore, Kuennen retires this week as executive director of the Rural Development Center at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a university nonprofit affiliate, the Maryland Hawk Corp.

    During his tenure, Kuennen aided more than 300 rural, regional and community economic development projects and landed the region more than 5,600 manufacturing jobs.

    Kuennen, 66, is a giant among strategic planners and economic developers with a global reach, yet shuns the limelight and enjoys getting the job done with a low profile, say associates.

    "He has a goal and a passion for what he's doing, and he's not a spotlight guy," said Bill Badger, executive director at Worcester County Economic Development. "A luncheon for him last week was indicative of that: He could have had hundreds of people testify about what he did, but Dan didn't want that. He told the folks at UMES he wanted no big ado.

    "That's Dan," Badger said.

    Kuennen joined UMES in 1990 as director of the Rural Development Center. One of his primary tasks was to strengthen and diversify the region's rural economy in order to grown jobs and raise incomes and the local tax base in the wake of lost manufacturing jobs. Kuennen had worked with governments in economic development while at the research and education center at the University of Delaware in Georgetown.

    Kuennen's imprint is visible throughout the region.

    His efforts won a $1 million economic development administration grant to build a hydroponic greenhouse on the UMES campus. The initiative, a revenue stream to create farmer diversification, won Kuennen the 2002 Outstanding Project of the Year award from the National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers. The initiative is responsible for more than 40 Eastern Shore growers.

    Under Kuennen, tourism advanced with promotional highway signage directing travelers to "Blue Crab Byways" and "Beach to Bay Indian Trail" routes.

    MaTech grew from four workers to 250 and relocated from a modest 10,000-sqaure-foot building to a sprawling, 165,000-square-foot campus in Salisbury. Kuennen helped the company get the funds for this growth.

    UMES' newly appointed president quickly learned of Kuennen's ability to attract major investments from start-up capital to the benefit of hundreds of enterprises.

    “It has become apparent in the short time that I have been president that Dan Kuennen is an important cog in the economic development engine that is the University of Maryland Eastern Shore,” said Juliette B. Bell, who joined UMES this summer. “His talent for utilizing seed funds to leverage investment in hundreds of businesses has provided much-needed jobs for our area.”


    This article was published in the Salisbury Daily Times and is reproduced here with the newspaper's permission.