Economic Development often is at a distinct disadvantage in the fierce competition that accompanies local budget-making. Because its benefits are long-term, economic development tends to pale in importance beside such critical services as police protection and fire and rescue. One answer to this dilemma, privatization, becomes even more compelling in tough times.
A case in point is Howard County, which is seriously considering spinning off its economic development office into a private, non-profit agency. "Economic development is absolutely necessary for the long-term health of the county, but people have a hard time looking ahead when there are so many other immediate concerns," says county economic development director Dyan L. Brasington.
Under the scheme now under study, the private sector and Howard County government would form a private corporation to focus on recruiting new businesses to Howard and helping companies already there.