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Development specialist feels like he's returning to his roots

June 24, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Taking a job in Washington County was close to being a homecoming for Stephen L. Christian.

The new business development specialist for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission said Monday that the county reminded him of Huntington, W.Va., where he grew up.

He said both places have similar backgrounds in how they developed economically.

"It kind of grew up the same time Hagerstown did," Christian said. "It felt like I was coming back to my roots."

The EDC announced Christian's hiring last week.

His salary will be $69,472 a year without benefits, said Washington County Acting Human Resources Director Dee Hawbaker.

PenMar Development Corp. Executive Director Richard Rook said PenMar is paying $10,000 toward Christian's salary. The one-time payment was given to the EDC to market the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade, and the EDC chose to apply the money toward Christian's salary.

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In his new role, Christian's job is to attract and retain businesses in the county.

He said his goal is to target high-tech companies that come with high-paying jobs.

"I'd like to raise the bar in terms of the quality of the companies that are considering Washington County as a potential location for their facilities," Christian said.

Washington County is an attractive place to businesses because of its location near Interstate 81 and Interstate 70, its proximity to Washington D.C., and Baltimore and its healthy economy, he said.

"I think our goal is really to capitalize on our strengths and ... pushing the county up to the next level," Christian said.

Christian has worked to expand Montgomery County, Md.'s biotechnology cluster and telecommunications industries, and served four years as an economic development manager for the West Virginia Development Office, according to a written statement from the EDC.

He was part of a recruitment effort that reeled in more than 10,000 new jobs and $150 million of capital investment to West Virginia and Maryland, the statement said.

He holds professional memberships with the International Economic Development Council, the Southern Economic Development Council, the National Corporate Real Estate Executives Network, the Maryland Industrial Development Association and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

Christian has bachelor's degrees in marketing management and theater from Syracuse University, the statement said.

EDC Director Timothy R. Troxell said in a written statement that Christian's talents will be an important tool in marketing Washington County.

"Stephen will play a vital role in our community's ability to attract and recruit quality employers," Troxell said.

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