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Opportunity is where you find it [Editorial]

Aberdeen
(MATT BUTTON AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

If it is possible to find opportunities in Aberdeen, does that mean the rest of Harford County is devoid of opportunity?

Or if Harford County declares itself to be the "Home of Opportunity," does that make Aberdeen less of a place where opportunity can be found?

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Or does Aberdeen, being part of Harford County, become twice as good a place to seek opportunity?

If the questions seem silly, it's because they are. They stem, however, from a serious complaint raised by Aberdeen City Councilwoman Ruth Elliott against the administration of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman over the use of the word opportunity.

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Aberdeen has been calling itself "the Home of Opportunity" since 2009, when it relegated a few previous slogans – "All America City," "Agriculture and Armaments," "Transportation and Technology," "We Host the Post" and the like – to second tier status.

In December, the Glassman administration began touting Harford County as "Maryland's New Center of Opportunity," a move that prompted Aberdeen's Elliott to say: "We are 'Home of Opportunity' and I would think they might want to have a different type of motto," going on to add, "It just sounds like a duplication and I believe people will get confused."

Sure, the Glassman Administration could have picked a different slogan of the moment. Like Aberdeen, it has had its share over the years.

Opportunity, however, is one of those words that seems to hold special meaning for marketing outfits and others who are seeking to promote a particular town, county, state, region or nation as a good place to do business. It has the ring of being specific, but means different things to different people. Is opportunity available because of a natural resources boom like a gold strike or a natural gas find? Is there a particularly convenient deep water port? Is there proximity to major markets? Is government regulation lax? Is land abundant and under-valued? Is it a buyer's market for labor?

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If the answer to any of these questions, or dozens more, happens to be yes, that translates into opportunity.

On the whole, such slogans are largely meaningless. A community can make wide proclamations about any number of advantages it offers to potential new residents, or potential new businesses, but just having a slogan doesn't make a particular community better or even all that much more appealing.

If Harford County and Aberdeen both want to say they're places where opportunity can be found, there's no real harm in it, but neither is there much benefit.

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