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Hagerstown's economic development manager asks county for help

Jill Estavillo laid out four objectives and five strategies to support the city center

November 08, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown's economic development manager Tuesday asked Washington County officials for support in strengthening the city center as a business, arts and entertainment, education and residential hub.

In a presentation to the Washington County Board of  Commissioners, Jill Estavillo laid out four objectives and five strategies on which the city and county could partner to support the city center.

Estavillo recommended that the city and county work in partnership to attract major employers to the city center, encourage renovation of city-center buildings, support entrepreneurial and small-business development in the city center, and lessen obstacles to economic development.

Her recommended strategies for achieving those goals were to market sites within the city center, to attract federal, state and county government agencies to locate in the city center, and to establish a "joint fund and incentives" to support building acquisitions and development or redevelopment projects in the city center.

City and county economic development officials already communicate regularly, and Estavillo sits on the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission as an ex-officio member, EDC Executive Director Timothy R. Troxell said.

Tuesday's presentation was meant to serve as an additional step to ensure that the city and county are on the same page when it comes to promoting economic development in the city, Troxell said.

"Whether it was perceived or real, there appeared to be some lack of shared goals, if you will," between the city and county EDCs, said Shelby Penn, one of the Hagerstown representatives on the county EDC board.

Two of Estavillo's suggested strategies — developing a long-range strategic plan and creating alternative sources of capital for entrepreneurs and startups — have already been initiated at the county EDC level.

The EDC has been working on a strategic plan, and the commissioners agreed last month to ask the commission to develop a revolving loan fund.

Troxell suggested that a green building tax credit the commissioners discussed previously would be one opportunity to offer support of downtown development. Offering incentives for redevelopment of the former hospital site would be another opportunity, he said.

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