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Clear skies ahead, Snook says

February 08, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Unemployment in Washington County is low, development is flourishing and more good times lie ahead, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook told a group of business and government leaders Tuesday.

At the annual State of the County address, Snook said businesses invested $280 million in the county in new construction and expansions in 1999.

The projects will mean more than 3,200 new jobs, according to the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

"This clearly is the best of times," Snook said in an interview after the address.

"This didn't just happen overnight," he said.

Snook said the county began working about five or six years ago to make sure there were enough attractive sites from which companies could choose.

The county's two biggest accomplishments last year were to lower unemployment from about 4.9 percent to just under 2.6 percent, and to raise the cash reserves to between 5 percent and 10 percent, , Snook said.

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During his address, he listed several other achievements, including increased funding for education and agricultural preservation, a commitment to put a University System of Maryland education center in downtown Hagerstown and a grant for the Clear Spring Library.

Snook reiterated the County Commissioners' nine goals for 2000, among them: Revitalizing downtown Hagerstown and other regions, adopting a right-to-farm ordinance and finding more downtown space for county government.

Snook said both the economy and the county's efforts have created the upswing. The Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission has done a good job of marketing the county, including preparing a Web site and a CD-ROM, he said.

The State of the County address, held at the Four Points Hotel, had been scheduled for Feb. 1. County officials promised a "major announcement" about new jobs then.

The address was postponed because of bad weather, but the announcement, that Susquehanna Bancshares and Garden State Tanning were adding at least 225 jobs in the county, was made anyway.

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