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November 18, 2010

A Challenge to Produce

Amanda Haddaway

November 8, 2010, was a sad day for Frederick’s local economy. Bon-Ton’s corporate management team announced that almost 60 jobs will be lost in January when its storefront in the nearly defunct Frederick Towne Mall closes.


Two local restaurants, Perkins and Houlihan’s, also closed unexpectedly and eliminated another 60 jobs. This news comes only months after JPMorgan Chase, CitiMortgage and BP Solar announced the closings of their Frederick operations and elimination of a combined total of almost 2,000 jobs.


I feel fortunate every day that I have a full-time job. I know many others who have been looking for a new opportunity for months to no avail. Every time our community loses jobs, it only becomes tougher for those looking.


The economy is showing some signs of improvement, but it’s going to be a long time before we’re totally back on our feet. I’m hopeful, though, that our newly-elected members of the Board of County Commissioners will stay true to their campaign promises of being pro-business.


Now that the election is over, it will be interesting to see if these elected candidates can impact change for the better in the realm of economic development. It’s important to note that government doesn’t create private sector jobs, but there are things that can be done to make a community more business friendly.


Some examples that have worked in Frederick County and other places include a quick and painless zoning and permitting process, tax credits for certain types of businesses and businesses moving into certain areas, small business loans, business incubators and many other unique approaches.


Before the campaign websites are taken down, I thought it was important to capture some “sound bites” from the pages of each of our incoming county commissioners. Here’s what they said (in random order):


Billy Shreve: We will foster a relationship with the business community to keep the good jobs that we have from leaving! Bringing new, high paying jobs to Frederick County will be a priority.


Blaine Young (from a video clip on his website): Right now we have what’s called “strangulation with regulation.” The government doesn’t need to dole out taxpayer dollars to create jobs, but (it) need(s) to figure out what roadblocks are in the way of job creation. We need to make sure that the process is easy and not cumbersome. Right now we have so many regulations.


Kirby Delauter: I will do everything possible to make sure that local businesses are treated fairly and I will do everything possible to give local businesses the opportunity to grow and succeed in Frederick County. Taxes and fees should be lowered on existing businesses in the county. The permit process for businesses should be streamlined.


Paul Smith: Bringing good jobs to the county will help us solve the county’s on-going budget issues because it will help us increase county revenues. Job development will bring in substantially more revenues than it will cost the county.


David Gray: Unfortunately, Commissioner Gray did not provide a campaign website, Facebook page or other online presence.


With the exception of Commissioner Gray, who said nothing, the other candidates spoke in generalities and haven’t yet shown exactly what changes they will make.


Commissioner Young has already proven himself to be an advocate of business in his short tenure on the board and I expect that will continue.


As for the freshmen candidates, I hope they’re already working on plans to make Frederick County a premier business location. Our citizens are depending on them. We need more jobs with decent wages so that we aren’t simply a bedroom community for the I-270 corridor. We need jobs to keep our homes and neighborhoods nice. We need jobs to keep crime down.


We’re depending on these incoming commissioners. I hope they’re up to the challenge.


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