Carroll County's representative to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development will be working more closely with county businesses, due to a reorganization at the state level.
While Patrick Barnes has been serving as the Carroll representative for two years, prior to September his duties involved much more than just Carroll County. Barnes was the regional representative for Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties, as well as the business development representative for a team of people that recruits businesses to work in the state of Maryland. His role in Carroll was really 16.6 percent of everything he did, he said.
As of September, Barnes began splitting his time between Carroll and Frederick counties in order to give state assistance for businesses in Carroll.
"I'll just be out in the field way more and the able to focus on two counties rather than three," Barnes said.
Barnes spent much of his time over the last two weeks visiting businesses at Frederick's and Carroll's business appreciation weeks and speaking with businesses about issues they may be having on the county and state levels.
Business appreciation week is an initiative from Carroll County Economic Development to thank businesses for choosing Carroll. It gives businesses a chance to meet with county and state officials and put a face to the many businesses in the county. While the primary goal of the week is to thank the businesses, it also gives business owners the chance to speak with officials about how business is going.
Carroll County Economic Development split their visits into teams of three or four people in order to cover more ground during business appreciation week.
Barnes said the deputy director of Economic Development, Denise Beaver, put Barnes on teams where he would be able to be most useful.
State involvement can be as easy as referring businesses to another agency, Barnes said, or he can introduce the business to several state programs that can benefit the businesses in the long term. Barnes gave the example of a job creation tax credit to spur economic growth.
The tax credit is for businesses with more than 25 employees who are hiring full-time employees. Manufacturing, central financial and real estate services are among the kinds of businesses that could receive a $1,000 tax credit per full-time worker hired.
Beaver said Barnes' biggest responsibility is ensuring Carroll businesses have access to state resources. Carroll businesses typically take more advantage of county resources than they do state resources, Beaver said.
"I think the programs from the state typically are focused for some of the larger businesses," Beaver said.
Barnes said because of Fort Detrick in Frederick, Frederick County has a strategic location to be involved with bio-medical companies, and deals with more federal contracting than Carroll.
Any business development, expansion or retention of businesses is of interest in Barnes' work, Beaver said. While going from three counties to two is less of a workload for Barnes, he said the work is an upgrade from his previous position.