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Official says publicly owned business park may bring companies

January 22, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

A new publicly owned business park would give Washington County an edge in courting companies, which are demanding a quicker and quicker turnaround time for land and buildings to locate their operations, a county development official said Thursday.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission plans to encourage the development of such a park in 1999, Commission Chairwoman Suzanne Hayes told local leaders at a dinner at the Sheraton-Four Points Hotel.

It was one of two new EDC priorities set for the year during the group's strategic planning conference earlier in the day, Hayes said.

The other is to seek additional financing sources for businesses, she said.

The need was pointed out during an EDC outreach luncheon for small businesses last year, Hayes said.

The remaining 1999 priorities continue or refine efforts started in 1998, Hayes said.

A lot was accomplished, including the forging of numerous strategic partnerships, the promotion of the county through television ads and the generation of a lot of positive press through public relations efforts, she said.

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But progress on the priorities was stifled to a degree last year by the reorganization of the EDC office, which wasn't up to full staff until late in the year, Hayes said.

The county needs ready space for businesses wishing to open or expand operations in the county, she said.

A new publicly owned park would complement, not compete with, private development for businesses, Hayes said.

The new business park is only a dream at this point, she said.

The next step is to form an EDC task force to figure out how to make it a reality, Hayes said.

There's no specific site in mind, she said.

An area on the west end of Hagerstown between Marshall Street and Salem Avenue was one of five possible sites talked about during a half-day planning session, Hayes said.

Creating a new publicly owned business park has been a long-term goal of the Washington County Commissioners, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

Considering its history of developing business parks in the county, the Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation, known as CHIEF, could be the instigator of the project, Snook said.

The funding could end up coming from CHIEF, the county, the city or any combination of the three, he said.

"You have to remain open about all types of options," Snook said.

The EDC's priorities for 1999 are:




* Emphasize the development of existing businesses.

* Facilitate work-force preparedness issues.

* Continue strategic marketing planning.

* Expand the public relations program.

* Implement strategic partnerships.

* Seek additional funding sources for businesses.

* Encourage the development of a new publicly owned business park.

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