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Economic Development Strategic Plan has scores of recommendations

January 26, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Strategic Plan unveiled Saturday at The Maryland Theatre has scores of recommendations distributed through 80 pages, a lot to digest in one sitting for those who attended the presentation.

Not all of the report’s recommendations are likely to be acted upon, County Commissioner William B. McKinley said.

“We’re going to have to try to come up with the really important points of things that are doable ... and take it from there,” McKinley said.

Consultant Kenneth Creveling of Urbanomics Inc. identified several industry categories that the county should look to expand or attract, including:

• Aviation technologies and services at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

• Product development and manufacturing, with Creveling citing Volvo Powertrain as one industry that does both here.

• Distribution and logistics, already well under way at Hopewell Valley Industrial Park.

• Business and financial services, such as First Data and Citi.

• Information and technology services for the Mount Aetna Technology Park being developed near Meritus Medical Center and Hagerstown Community College, or in a technology park along the Interstate 70 corridor.

• Agriculture and agribusiness in a county where 40 percent of the land is agricultural.

• Arts, culture and tourism, including Hagerstown’s city center, where The Maryland Theatre, Maryland Symphony Orchestra and Barbara Ingram School for the Arts already are established.

The plan notes strengths in the county’s proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C.; Interstates 81 and 70; existing industries; a pro-business climate; health, education and social services; national and state parks; and a favorable cost of doing business.

Weaknesses include inadequate skilled labor; downtown poverty; over-regulation of land development; and a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states.

The plan’s final report is on the Economic Development Commission’s website (http://hagerstownedc.org) and a link to the plan is on the county’s website (www.washco-md.net).

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