Corporation forming to support business Luring new firms would be a goal CARROLL COUNTY FARM/BUSINESS

November 18, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Westminster city officials, business leaders and concerned citizens are scheduled to gather at 7:30 tonight in the first public meeting designed to organize a Greater Westminster Development Corporation.

Organizers said the group, inspired by a similar one in Frederick, would support existing businesses and attract new ones in Westminster, much like the county's Economic Development Commission.

"Frederick has an operation, a Greater Frederick Development Corporation, that has been working out beautifully," said Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein, a member of the 1990 Advisory Task Force on Downtown Renaissance.

The task force, which was chaired by Kenneth A. Yowan, now a councilman, had suggested that Westminster consider a similar group to promote the city's economic growth.

"That proposal has been gathering dust until recently; the council has taken under consideration some of the recommendations at last," Ms. Orenstein said.

For the past few months, Councilmen Damian Halstad and Stephen R. Chapin Sr. and Mayor W. Benjamin Brown have met with a planning committee to "get the ball rolling," Mr. Halstad said.

Mr. Brown said the following people have been serving with the three elected officials on the planning committee: Thomas Ferguson, president of Carroll County Bank and Trust; Joseph Beaver, president of Union National Bank; Westminster real estate lawyer Robert Lennon; David Max, owner of Winchester Exchange; and James Dulany, a Westminster real estate appraiser.

The planning committee invited 40 Westminster business leaders and residents to tonight's meeting in the Union National Bank meeting room to help organize the new corporation.

Nearly 25 have agreed to serve, organizers said.

"As of Thursday night, our role is finished," Mr. Brown said of the planners. "The group itself will elect a steering committee and decide committee responsibilities."

Mr. Brown and Mr. Halstad stressed that the corporation's exact structure has not been determined. The group is expected to form officially by mid-February.

Members may decide the group should be a nonprofit organization, like the Greater Frederick Development Corporation, or a for-profit group in which local businesses and residents may purchase shares and then profit as the group buys land and develops it, Mr. Brown said.

Greater Frederick is supported by Frederick businesses, the city and the county, which each donate about $50,000 per year, Mr. Halstad said.

"There are some very intricate issues when you get involved in corporate structure," he said. "Things like what kind of funding can be provided depends on what type of entity you choose."

Organizational support will be provided free of charge for three months by Mr. Chapin's son, Stephen R. Chapin Jr., a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. Inc. of Washington. McKinsey is a nation-wide management consulting firm.

"As a citizen, I'm helping the City of Westminster," said the younger Mr. Chapin. "McKinsey does do pro bono work, but it's usually for a longer period of time. I felt it would be better if it was something that I did in my spare time."

The younger Mr. Chapin, who has been gathering data on Westminster businesses with city planner Katrina Tucker, said he will present that information tonight, along with options for organizing the corporation.

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