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On top EDC job, make a decision

July 22, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

We understand the Washington County Commissioners' desire to get the update of the Comprehensive Plan approved before the November elections. After all the efforts that have been made, a new county board might put all that work on the shelf, while they study it for six months.

But we don't understand the commissioners' reluctance to begin a search for candidates to fill the Economic Development Director's position recently vacated by John Howard. Judging from their discussion this past Tuesday, the county board is unsure about which way to go. Whatever choices are on the table, "wait and see" shouldn't be one of them.

EDC's Howard went on paid administrative leave in March of this year, then retired June 11. Since then Tim Troxell, EDC's assistant director, has been in charge. Dougt Wright, EDC's chairman, unsuccessfully sought to convince the commissioners to immediately start a search that could take months.

Commissioners' President Greg Snook said that he was unsure whether the county should fill the top job, or create another EDC marketing position. Commissioner Bert Iseminger said that the figures show that EDC has done well in recent years and noted that the agency has just put together a plan to market sites around the Hagerstown Regional Airport6.

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John Schnebly questioned whether it was time to start a major marketing campaign because of the sluggish economy. If clients can't afford the sites, he said, even the world's greastest salesperson couldn't move them.

The commissioners should make a decision now, for several reasons. Companies seeking to cut costs in this economy may find this county more attractive than the metropolitan area. Companies that can't afford to branch out now should know about this county so it's on their list when the good times come again. And the commissioners should have some respect for a board whose members they appointed, whose recommendation we agree with: Make a decision now.

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