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Washington County economic development plan to be unveiled

January 15, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A four-hour presentation on a strategic economic development plan for Washington County will be made Saturday, Jan. 26, at The Maryland Theatre, County Administrator Gregory Murray said Tuesday.

The presentation of the final draft of the plan will begin at 8 a.m., Murray said.

In June, consultants with Urbanomics Inc. of Florida and Leak-Goforth Co. of North Carolina met with government officials and representatives of business and education to outline the scope of the work that would go into developing the plan. That included interviews with leaders from government, education and the private sector to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the county.

“We identified areas in the county for economic development” including downtown Hagerstown, Kenneth Creveling of Urbanomics said Monday in a telephone interview. Four other areas in the county have also been identified for possible development, he said.

Creveling said certain types of manufacturing, information technology and business and financial services should be targeted to locate here. The plan also looks at arts and tourism and agriculture, as well as the infrastructure needs of the county he said.

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The plan also addresses the work force needs of those businesses and industries, Creveling said. It also addresses how to prepare and grow a work force for the increasingly technical jobs of the future, he said.

The $100,000 contract for the study was awarded by the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, known as CHIEF. It was paid for by grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Members of the economic development commission and CHIEF reviewed an earlier draft of the plan in December and submitted comments for the final draft, Creveling said.

It will be up to the Hagerstown-Washinghton County Economic Development Commission to adopt the strategic plan, something that could happen in February, Murray said. However, the county would have the authority to implement parts of the plan, Murray said.

The plan would have to be adopted first by the Hagerstown-Washington Economic Development Commission and then forwarded to the Washington County Board of Commissioners for final approval and implementation, county spokeswoman Sarah Lankford Sprecher said.

The economic development commission could act on the plan in February, she said.

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