Letter: Harford already doing what watchdog group suggested needs to be done


The recent letter from Joan Ryder concerning Harford County's economic development growth programs hit some positive points. In fact, the programs created for effective economic development in Harford County actually do all those things the letter listed as "prudent."  From being a positive benefit to the community and gaining jobs to providing needed products and services and lowering taxes, these programs help to create a strong, vital economy. They have a solid impact on residents and businesses here. We know this because participating companies are also required to report on their use of funds and the results.

The letter regaled the past: "when business competed to enter into an area…management was responsible for the success …therefore, businesses located in communities where they determined they could prosper." We need to bring our thinking into the present and look toward the future. While businesses obviously select communities where they can prosper, the competitive landscape is changing. We are in different times now. We need to be creative in the ways we attract new companies and retain existing businesses because other counties and states are doing so. Businesses are taking notice. Management is responsible for a company's success, and in today's world, success equals a positive bottom line. Management is going to choose the best location that will result in the best bottom line. Additionally, most program funding originates at the state level. Dollars are allocated to counties for programs like the Economic Development Opportunity Fund, in which the county matches the dollars. If the money is not used, it is re-directed to other counties who will use it. Instead of sitting idly by and watching other counties gain business that could have been ours, we must be competitive and show that we are, indeed, business friendly.

To do that, we need to have the cooperation of existing businesses, county government, civic groups and individuals. When businesses thrive, taxes are lower, jobs grow and a healthy community results. People want to live in a vibrant community, not one that has empty office and retail space on every corner. Consumer-friendly companies with expanded retail opportunities are at the forefront of the County's progress, along with the 82 defense contractors that have put down roots here. These companies are generating tax dollars, bringing in employees who purchase real estate, pay income and property taxes and use community facilities and infrastructure. Visitors to these companies are pouring money into local tourism by staying in hotels and eating in local restaurants. When these companies thrive and prosper, everyone in Harford County benefits.

Our objective should be to work together to strengthen the attractiveness of the county. We are not the only ones with a proximity toWashington, D.C. Our location alone does not guarantee companies will build here. That's why the Administration, County Council and the Office of Economic Development, with the assistance of the Economic Development Advisory Board, have studied and created a number of distinct programs for companies of all types and sizes. The programs have clear requirements for participation, selection and reporting. Selection is done not by government representatives, but by a variety of members of the corporate community.

Let's use the attractiveness of our location and our thoughtful economic development programs to our advantage as a community – making Harford County the right choice for living and working.

Chris Streett

Harford County Economic Development Advisory Board

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