Merle Elliott receives state economic recognition

June 07, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

For his volunteerism, Merle Elliott of Hagerstown has received a statewide economic development award.

The Maryland Economic Development Association gave Elliott its 2008 Volunteer of the Year award Monday in Cambridge, Md.

"In the last 28 years, Mr. Elliott, in various unpaid volunteer positions, has made a positive impact on the economic growth of Washington County and the State of Maryland," the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission's nomination says. "Mr. Elliott's foresight, hard work, and tireless devotion to business and economic development, higher education, and community betterment have tremendously (helped) make Hagerstown and Washington County the success it is today."

Elliott has been part of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF), a nonprofit organization that helps finance development projects, since it began in 1960. He was president from 1974 to 2001.

"Under his leadership, CHIEF has been instrumental in bringing thousands of jobs to the area, creating industry diversification and additional business opportunities for our community," the nomination says.


Elliott said in a phone interview that CHIEF formed as Fairchild, a local industry anchor, dropped from 10,000 employees to fewer than 1,000.

"That was a lot more traumatic than anything else that happened," he said.

Around that time, he said, Mack Trucks was "a savior" and built a local factory, which still is operating.

The nomination says Elliott helped bring Citicorp Credit Services to Washington County in the 1980s, when Fairchild closed and Mack Trucks was making cuts.

The EDC credited Elliott and CHIEF with contributing to upgrades of Hagerstown Fairgrounds, The Maryland Theatre and other projects in the city.

Elliott has served on a variety of boards and commissions - some for business, but also for Hagerstown Community College and the Community Foundation of Washington County Inc.

Elliott said he always feels obliged to see causes through to the end. He joked that he's "emotionally incompetent to quit."

"I think we all have a responsibility to pay back to the community," he said. "I've never paid everything back."

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