Howard County's economic development blueprint is a significant document in that is sets out a potential road map for a county sorely in need of direction. Since County Executive Charles I. Ecker took office nearly 10 months ago, he understandably has been preoccupied with extinguishing fiscal fires. The economic vision he so ardently championed during his campaign was put on hold -- until now.
Much in this plan, a four-month effort of 19 government, business and civic leaders, is pro forma. It calls for, among other things, a marketing program to attract corporate and regional headquarters, emphasize the importance of commerce to county residents, foster partnerships with federal, state and local organizations and promote work force development. The plan also suggests a venture capital financing pool and assisting businesses snared in regulatory red tape.
One particularly good idea is creating a high-technology council focusing on technological issues and providing advice and support for fledgling hi-tech concerns. This is aimed at diversifying Howard's employment base and strengthening a promising avenue of economic growth.