A significant number of Odenton residents leave their community to shop for groceries and convenience-type items, depleting the area of locally generated revenue, a market study conducted over the past seven months shows.
"There is a tremendous leakage of dollars to the outside area," said Howard Kohn, president of The Chesapeake Group, a Baltimore consulting firm that specializes in economic development.
"People have money right now that they should be spending in Odenton. It is one thing to drive 25 miles for furniture, but quite another to drive 15 miles for milk."
Kohn, speaking to the Town Center Growth Management Committee Wednesday night, told the group that the West County community can support many new businesses and shopping centers.
Odenton, he said, "has the most rapid growth we have seen. All the houses people have been hearing about for 20 years are happening now."
The growth-management committee, made up of residents, business managers and county planners, has been meeting for a year, working to draft guidelines for developers who want to build on the 218-acre Town Center land and its periphery.
Getting people to stay means building more stores, said Kohn, who stressed that his final marketing report is about two weeks away.
By 1995, he said, Odenton'spopulation will increase from 13,900 to 17,100. The community, whichcurrently has 9 percent of the county's households, will have 38 percent of the county's growth in the next three years.
The town aimsto bring in the businesses people need, while maintaining a competitive environment that doesn't force other shops to close.
In preliminary figures released Wednesday night, Kohn said 44 percent of residents living near Odenton's business district or in Fort Meade do their weekly grocery shopping at the base commissary.
But a surprising25 percent drive out of Odenton to shop at Giant Foods. Twenty-two percent shop at the Super Fresh, in the Odenton Shopping Center on Route 175.
Kohn said an "astounding" 50 percent of Odenton residents leave the area for convenience-type shopping, which includes servicessuch as dry cleaning or department-store shopping.
"That has a tremendous impact," he said.
Of the people surveyed who live outsideOdenton, 40 percent said they visit the community to shop, 32 percent said they come to eat and 6 percent said they only come to use the train station.
Among Odenton stores are the Super Fresh, Ames, Jo Ann's and the Beacon Pharmacy.
Kohn said the negative perceptions of Odenton include a lack of a variety of stores, poor quality of thestores, slow service and the feeling the community is outdated.
People surveyed said they want a movie theater, a hardware store and more restaurants.