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Commissioners, chamber of commerce meet to discuss future entrepreneurial environment

Carroll County is poised to offer space and support for new businesses wanting to locate to the area, according to the county board of commissioners.

Representatives from the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce met with the county commissioners Wednesday to hear what the governing body believes the current status of the county's business environment is, and what the future prospects are. The commissioners said Carroll is in a great position to bring in new businesses and nurture established ones.

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Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, said the board wants to grow the county's business community. For the first time since 2005, Howard said, the county's opportunities to bring in new businesses are in line with the amount of space it has to support them.

"Carroll's opportunities and inventory never really lined up before, until right now," Howard said.

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In the past couple years, a number of businesses have moved or expanded their facilities in Carroll. Fuchs North America, a spice company, is building a new facility in Hampstead; Carlisle Etc. LLC, a women's clothing company, purchased a building in Westminster; and the firm Black Oak Associates is redeveloping the former Carrolltown Center space in Eldersburg.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, said he agrees Carroll is in a great place to foster economic growth, but improvements must be made. Carroll County government has limited resources and funds, which means it must find cost-effective solutions to problems, he said.

"We have got to figure out a better way to allocate scarce resources," Rothschild said. "Some things may have to fall off the priority list."

Rothschild suggested the chamber's business leaders work with the board of commissioners to find solutions to issues like school funding and facilities.

"A dozen heads are better than one," Rothschild said.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, R-District 1, said she does not think the board has done enough to simplify zoning and inspection processes, despite its having passed several code changes aimed at doing just that.

Frazier said the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission is focusing on the wrong things when reviewing developments, like tree plantings and paint colors. The county needs to focus on streamlining and simplifying the development processes, she said.

Howard stressed there is no magic bullet to bring businesses to Carroll. The board has the ability to make use of a combination of tactics — like lowering taxes, reducing debt and creating development-navigation programs — to foster economic growth.

Howard said the board has taken, and will continue to take, actions that will entice businesses to come to the county.

Reach staff writer Christian Alexandersen at 410-857-7873 or christian.alexandersen@carrollcountytimes.com.

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