Getting Serious About Development CARROLL COUNTY

December 14, 1992

If the commissioners are serious about attracting development to Carroll County, they should not focus so much energy on forming a community development bank but instead appoint a full-time economic development director.

Creating a pool of low-interest loans will certainly help attract industry to the county, but the county's economic development office needs a leader.

Since last summer, the county's small economic development office has been operating without a director. Instead, the commissioners' executive assistant, Robert A. "Max" Bair, has been assigned the duties of coordinating and reviewing economic development efforts.

Identifying and attracting businesses to the county is a full-time job. Mr. Bair has a tough act to pull off, especially considering his other responsibilities. We will never know how many potential employers were lost because Mr. Bair had to attend to other pressing issues and did not have the time to meet and talk with potential businesses.

The lack of low-cost capital is not the reason there is very little economic development here. Probably most businesses shopping around Maryland for factory, warehouse or office sites aren't even aware of Carroll County. Because so much of economic development is a matter of making one's existence known, the county should be investing its dollars into programs and people that can bring attention to the county.

To have an effective economic development effort, a great deal of time has to be invested in developing contacts, cultivating them and then convincing them that Carroll is the best location out of thousands for their businesses. At the moment, the county can't mount this kind of effort.

While having a bank capable of making low-interest loans is an additional arrow in the economic development quiver, Carroll has other more important attractions. Relatively inexpensive land, a good labor force, relatively low taxes, good access to major transportation centers and an opportunity for pleasant living are probably more important factors.

However, as long as the county continues to operate without a director of economic development, it is going to be very hard to get that message to the people who should be hearing it.

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