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Brien Poffenberger: Achievements, optimism shine at business event

March 27, 2013|By BRIEN POFFENBERGER

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Washington County Business Awards. 

The program, a joint project of the county’s Economic Development Commission and the Chamber of Commerce, has celebrated excellence in our business community for the past 14 years, and this year’s program found new reasons to carry on that tradition. Recognized annually at an “Academy Awards-style” program, winners in seven categories show off the successes and achievements of companies across the county.

Individually, the winners are impressive, and collectively they suggest a Washington County that is forward-thinking, technologically savvy, and focused on community and customer service.

• At Your Service Award — Recognized for its customer service, Rentals Unlimited rents, sells and services equipment used by other companies and residential customers.

• Going Green Award — Hagerstown Community College has incorporated environmentally sensitive construction practices into the aggressive building program that is transforming its campus. 

• Large Business of the Year — Brook Lane Health Services, a Washington County mainstay, was recognized for its contributions as a business with 50 employees or more.

• Small Business of the Year — Cronise Market in Boonsboro, with its Olde Homestead country store, was the top business with fewer than 50 employees.

• Leading Edge Award — Biaera Technologies, which links Washington County with the economic engine of Maryland’s biotech industry, won the award for technological innovation.

• Nonprofit Impact Award — The Maryland Theatre was recognized — and received an unrestricted grant from the Community Foundation — as a driver of Hagerstown’s Arts and Entertainment District.

• Business Person of the Year — Finally, recognizing the link between the professional success and community service over the past year, the business community recognized John Itell, of the accounting firm Albright Crumbacker Moul & Itell, as Washington County’s Business Person of the Year for 2013. 

The winners’ achievements are impressive, but this year’s program was something of a milestone. The attendance, which had flagged during the recession, is clearly on the rebound, and with it renewed hopes for a strong economic recovery in Washington County. 

In this sense, the event has become a leading economic indicator. Nearly 500 business, civic and community leaders attended this year, 100 more than last year and twice the attendance we saw just a few years ago. 

The conclusion is inescapable: Opinion leaders in our community came out to celebrate the achievements of the past year and the prospects for the year ahead. They are optimistic about what they see as an increasingly healthy business climate and excited about a renewed sense of what’s possible in Washington County.

Brien Poffenberger is president of the Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

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