Economic prospects called good

Development chief sees business moving to `safe havens'

`We have a good reputation'

5,300 jobs created, $68 million invested during fiscal 2001

October 16, 2001|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Carroll County might attract businesses fleeing from urban centers after the attacks Sept. 11 on New York and Washington, said economic development director Jack Lyburn in a presentation on the county's development performance in the past year.

More than a month after the attacks, it remains too early to identify changing trends in business movement, but workers and businesses seem more interested in "safe havens" such as Carroll, Lyburn said.

In more concrete news, he told the county commissioners that companies invested about $68 million in new or renovated Carroll locations and created about 5,300 jobs for the county in fiscal 2001. He mentioned Snavely Forest Products, Kohn Creative Solutions and Fidelitone as additions to the county's business roster.

"We are an extremely business-friendly community, and we have a good reputation now that's really helping us," Lyburn told the commissioners last week. "If we're in a recession, we haven't seen it."

The county's unemployment rate remained steady in fiscal 2001 at about 2.1 percent compared with the state average of about 3.9 percent.

Lyburn also noted the county's increasingly aggressive efforts to aid small businesses with start-up plans and loan applications. In May, consultant Mike Fish began knocking on doors at businesses in Carroll's eight incorporated towns and cities, informing owners that his expertise is available free. Fish said he has been to every municipality at least once and has made about 150 site visits.

An employee of the Small Business Development Center at Towson University, Fish has helped Carroll business owners for nine years from his perch at the county's economic development office. The county helped small businesses procure a record amount of loan money in fiscal 2001, Fish said.

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