Economic chief wants 'big league' approach

April 08, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Having Washington County stand out from thousands of other communities competing for new industry and better publicizing local economic development efforts are among the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission's objectives for 1998, officials said Tuesday.

"We've got to look like a big-league community in order to play in the big league," said EDC Director John C. Howard, who said local leaders' positive perception of the community and its assets is key to setting Washington County apart.

Howard outlined the group's five "strategic priorities" Tuesday morning at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

About 90 business and community leaders attended.

According to Howard, the five priorities are:

- To increase the visibility and effectiveness of the ommission's efforts to retain and expand existing businesses.

- To develop well-defined programs to address potential and existing businesses' concerns about work-force preparedness.

- To develop and implement a comprehensive marketing plan that will create an image and awareness of Washington County as a quality business destination.


- To establish a public relations program to let the community know what the economic development commission is doing.

- To form partnerships, groups and coalitions with private and public entities that ensure the county is prepared for development, to streamline the regulatory process and to develop more funding for economic development.

The goals represent input from local and state government, business, economic development and education leaders on how to promote economic opportunity for all citizens, he said.

Technological advances in the past decade have outpaced the educational process, Howard said.

Economic development officials repeatedly hear work-force preparedness is key to both expansion of existing businesses and attracting newcomers, he said.

It's important to foster the growth of existing companies because 80 percent of new jobs in the United States are created from within a community, not by new companies that move in, Howard said.

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