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EDC outlines priorities for 2000

January 27, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

None of the strategic priorities presented by the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission on Thursday night was a surprise.

All of the priorities were carried over from 1999.

Fostering development of new industrial and business parks, working toward making the commission a private-public partnership, and developing more financial sources for local businesses were among the eight priorities Commission Chairwoman Suzanne D. Hayes presented to approximately 50 business leaders.

After discussing the priorities over dinner at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway several business people expressed support for them while others said they were too generic and more long-term goals were needed.

At least two of the discussion groups felt the commission needs to say no to some companies looking at locating in Washington County because their business may not fit in with the county's goals.

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Hayes said that was news she was glad to hear.

"We need to target projects we want to target," Hayes said.

After the three-hour program Hayes said the firms the commission needs to target provide higher wages.

The commission's targeted businesses should dovetail with those of the state's, which include the biotech and telecommunications industries, she said.

Michael DiSciullo, general manager of the local Citicorp Credit Services site, said he'd also like to see the county pursue businesses that deal in electronic commerce, such as the Internet, since that is a focus of the state legislature.

The commission also wants to attract technology industries, but at the same time should recognize that progress would be incremental until the county can provide a labor force with technological skills, Hayes said.

The labor force also was a big issue at the program, with more than one business person saying it was a major challenge now to find qualified workers when the unemployment rate is low.

Other strategic priorities are to:




* Emphasize the development of existing businesses.

* Facilitate work force preparedness initiatives.

* Continue strategic marketing.

* Enhance public relations.

* Continue to improve strategic partnering.

Business leaders suggested Thursday night that:




* Local politicians broaden their focus on long-term issues rather than focusing on smaller constituent areas.

* The image of Hagerstown be improved.

* Officials coordinate with planning board and airport commission officials in planning for the future of the Hagerstown Regional Airport and surrounding economic development.

* Urban revitalization be supported.

* Home rule be established so we can control our destiny.

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