Economic specialist position created

City hopes to build on downtown success

March 18, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Westminster's downtown is the stuff of envy among many municipalities.

Most storefronts are occupied, city parking lots are full, and historic buildings such as the 1860s-era stone building at Liberty and Green streets, the old post office and the Carroll Theater - both on Main Street - are undergoing major renovations.

Instead of resting on its laurels, the city is hoping to improve economic development downtown and elsewhere in Westminster by creating a full-time economic development specialist position.

"We realize if the business community doesn't succeed, particularly the downtown, the city's not going to succeed," said Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan, who announced the creation of the job at a Common Council meeting last week.

The specialist will work as the city's Main Street manager and will also work with area businesses, provide Smart Growth support and complete economic development studies and business surveys.

"We certainly hope to increase communication between the city and the business community and the appropriate people with the state," Yowan said.

Previously, the city had a part-time Main Street coordinator who also had other duties but that post has been vacant since Don Hammond left last fall, Yowan said.

The specialist would be paid in the range of $35,000 to $50,000 per year, Yowan said. He said he hopes to have the position filled by the end of April.

Judith Nave, owner of Forget-Me-Not in Westminster and co-president of the Westminster Business Association, said, "We're anxious for the position to be filled so we can learn how this will affect us."

The hiring of an economic development coordinator in Taneytown four years ago has had a major impact, said Taneytown Mayor Henry C. Heine. The position began as part time but became full time within a year. The work by economic development coordinator Nancy B. McCormick helped in getting Taneytown selected by the state as a Main Street Maryland community, Heine said. She also worked to help retain Flowserve Corp., Taneytown's second-largest employer.

"I don't know if we could survive without the EDC [Economic Development Commission]," Heine said. "From what I understand, we are in very, very good standing with a lot of the state agencies because of our efforts."

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