County lacking industry land

Needs 1,000 acres zoned industrial, says economic official

Businesses can't wait

October 22, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The resounding message to members of the Carroll Economic Development Commission yesterday was that the county is way behind in land that is in move-in condition for industry.

Within half an hour after the public portion of the commission's annual retreat began, members voted to go into a closed session to discuss land acquisition.

"We need more [business and industrial] parks, and all the infrastructure in them," said Jack Lyburn, the county's director of economic development. He spoke to an audience of about 30 members of the commission, which is made up of business people from the county.

The county has about 1,000 acres of marketable industrially zoned land, he said, and needs another 1,000 acres.

Lyburn said he has had to turn away prospective businesses and industry because he doesn't have the land to offer them, ready for them to move in and operate with natural gas lines and public water and sewer.

"We don't have the land," he said. "They don't have the time to wait. Prospects don't want to see a cornfield. They want to see a park where they can move right in."

Lyburn said that in addition to the infrastructure, he wants land that has permits for uses such as manufacturing, so a company can move in without having to go through the process of applying to a planning commission or other government panel.

Land along railways is particularly underused, he said.

"We have great rail sites, but we don't have the infrastructure on them," Lyburn said.

The county commissioners have made economic development a top priority for this year.

"Certainly, economic development is at the top because it helps provide the dollars for the other projects we want to carry out," said Julia Walsh Gouge, commissioner president.

For every dollar received from residential development, the county spends $1.10 in services such as roads and schools. For every dollar received from agriculture, the county spends 45 cents, and for every dollar received from business, it spends 55 cents.

The guest speaker for the meeting was a "site locator," a person who scouts the country for industries looking to expand or relocate. Gouge said he gave them an insider's perspective on what industry looks for and how certain industries are "multipliers" that bring a greater economic return to counties.

She said pharmaceutical companies will have higher-paying jobs than food industry companies, and their employees will spend more in the county and pay more in taxes.

At the beginning of the meeting, Lyburn went through highlights since last October. For the 1999 fiscal year, he said, the county's taxable base came to $68 million. Including $13.9 million in commercial and industrial property added since July, the base is at $81.9 million.

Other highlights, he said, were the creation of 1,400 jobs, an additional 2 million square feet of commercial and industrial space, and the completion of deals including one with Sweetheart Cup Co. to build a 1.034-million-square-foot distribution center south of Hampstead's town line. A groundbreaking is expected early next month.

Other deals include a 326,000-square-foot expansion of Random House in Westminster; a 25,000-square-foot luggage factory called Clemco Manufacturing at West Branch Trade Center north of Westminster; and Accu-quest Inc., a 10,000-square-foot training facility for law enforcement personnel at West Branch.

Pub Date: 10/22/99

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