Merger urged of development, tourism offices

April 29, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Carroll's Economic Development Commission agreed yesterday to recommend that the county offices of tourism and economic development be combined, despite concerns that a merger might eventually harm efforts to attract business to the area.

The proposed merger -- suggested by economic development administrator William E. Jenne and Joan Meekins, program administrator for the Office of Tourism -- must be approved by the commissioners.

"It's an economies-of-scale issue," Mr. Jenne said. "We both have limited staff resources, and both are involved in marketing and promoting Carroll County.

"I think by leveraging resources we can make each of our organizations stronger and be able to be more effective, given our limited staffing."

Mr. Jenne would oversee both offices, which would be on the first floor of the Winchester Building, 125 N. Court St. in Westminster, said county Executive Assistant Robert A. "Max" Bair.

"Bill really had to sell me on this proposal," he said. "[But] tourism is a self-contained operation with not a lot of need for supervision. EDC is in the same mode."

The two offices were one until the early 1980s, and recombining them could help consolidate efforts for marketing, Mr. Bair said. The offices would keep separate budgets, he said.

"For the most part, economic development and tourism are linked throughout the state of Maryland and nationally," Mr. Jenne said.

Economic Development Commission members said they were concerned that the merger might make the public think county officials were discouraging economic development.

"EDC has appeared to be diminished in the past few months, and this may be perceived as taking another step down that path," said Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown. "Pretty soon, the appearance becomes the generally accepted reality."

Paul Denton, president of Maryland Midland Railway, said, "I have great concerns that rather than merging the EDC, we ought to beef it up and add to it.

"But these are the in-house professionals, and if they made the recommendation, I think we ought to give it a shot and see what they can do."

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