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Business magazine names city a 'five-star community'

May 16, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

A business magazine has ranked Hagerstown's quality of life in the top 50 among metropolitan areas across the country.

Expansion Management Magazine measured quality of life by looking at things such as housing affordability, crime, education and traffic.

The top 50, which included Hagerstown, were named "five-star communities."

"True quality of life means being able to tap into the American Dream. Being able to do that at a reasonable cost means lower turnover and higher productivity for employers," Chief Editor Bill King wrote.

In the Hagerstown area, for example, more than three-fourths of all the homes are affordable for a family making the median income of $53,500, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

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The magazine is delivered to about 45,000 executives and consultants scouting new business locations.

Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said the article gives him something to show prospective employers.

"Any positive publicity that this area receives I think helps in our economic development efforts," he said.

Usually, companies narrow down their search for a business location based on factors such as transportation access, workforce costs and utility costs, he said.

Quality of life usually comes into play when the decision-makers are relocating their own families, he said.

But the magazine article makes the argument that quality of life should be important in all location decisions because a happy workforce is more productive and less likely to have high turnover.

"I've always felt that we lived in one of the finest areas in the entire United States, and it makes me feel proud that one of the leading economic development magazines agrees," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner said the city was honored to be recognized.

"Upon completion of the University System of Maryland's Hagerstown Campus and other downtown projects currently under construction, we might even become a six-star community," he said.

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