Montgomery keeps lead in business development But Howard, Shore, Western Maryland show faster growth

October 24, 1997|By Melissa Corley | Melissa Corley,CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Montgomery County continued to lead Maryland in business development, but neighboring Howard County and sections of the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland experienced faster growth rates, the government reported.

The number of businesses in Howard County grew by 4.2 percent in 1995, while statewide the growth rate was 1.6 percent, the Census Bureau said.

Worcester, Calvert, Carroll and Harford counties also outpaced Montgomery County's 2.4 percent business growth rate.

The Census Bureau reported that the number of employees in Maryland rose to 1.82 million in 1995, a 3.9 percent jump.

Queen Anne's County led the way with a 12.2 percent employment increase. Calvert County was second with a 7.3 percent increase, followed by Washington County with a 6.5 percent increase.

Harford, Worcester, Cecil, Howard, Prince George's, St. Mary's and Anne Arundel counties all came before Montgomery County, which had the 11th highest job growth rate at 4 percent.

Queen Anne's also had the highest payroll increase at 10.8 percent, followed by St. Mary's County at 10.4 percent and Prince George's at 8.7 percent.

Howard, Baltimore, Washington, Frederick, Charles and Cecil counties also had faster-growing payrolls than Montgomery County.

Montgomery retained the highest number of businesses and employees and highest payrolls in the state while Somerset County had the lowest numbers in each category.

Howard County's rapid growth is attributable to the strong national economy, its location between Washington and Baltimore and pro-business local officials who focus on small-business growth, said Richard Story, executive director of Howard County's Economic Development Authority.

"This is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country and we're the bull's-eye in that target," Story said. "We're the bridge that brings those two masses ... together."

Regions such as Queen Anne's County on the Chesapeake Bay have experienced growth for other reasons.

Queen Anne's is "the gateway county to the Eastern Shore," and aggressive efforts by its Economic Development Commission and tourism officials to attract businesses have succeeded, said Doug Shreve, executive director of the Queen Anne's County Chamber of Commerce.

The "golden triangle" of Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis has become overdeveloped, Shreve said, making Queen Anne's more attractive bedroom community with lower tax rates.

He said development has picked up in the past five years due in part to making the permit process and zoning laws more favorable to business.

Worcester and Calvert counties also experienced high growth rates in 1995.

Shreve said the waterfront housing development in and around Ocean City accounts for Worcester's growth. He also noted that Calvert County, on the Western Shore, is a natural growth area for the southeast Washington corridor.

The Census Bureau released figures this week on county business patterns for 1995 - the last year for which complete data are available.

The annual survey contains information on industry activities in small geographical areas.

National comparisons of regional data will not be available until next month.

The information is used by state and local governments to attract new businesses and to evaluate strengths and weaknesses, said Census Bureau spokeswoman LaVerne Collins.

The Census data include information on the non-farm private economy and exclude most government employees and the self-employed.

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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