Ellicott City hires town manager

Ellicott City's historic district has its first Main Street manager in more than two decades, the group charged with preserving and promoting the old town announced Wednesday.

Debra W. Korb has been hired for the position, which was created by the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership as a way to communicate the old town's interests through a more centralized voice. Korb has already started the job, according to ECHDP interim President Andy Hall.


He said the group had received some 40 applications for the post and had interviewed candidates from "far and wide" -- prospective managers came from New Jersey, New Mexico and Connecticut -- before deciding on Korb.

According to a press release announcing the hire, Korb most recently worked as executive director of Henry Clay's Estate in Ashland, which is  a National Historic Landmark in Lexington, Ky. She has worked in corporate and non-profit business for more than a decade, the partnership said.

The news was accompanied June 18 by another announcement of an agreement between the historic district partnership and the Howard County Economic Development Authority to provide $100,000 over a three-year period to help fund the Main Street manager position.

The historic district partnership will provide funds to match HCEDA's contribution, Hall said.

Hiring a Main Street manager falls in line with the historic district's goal of receiving a Main Street Maryland designation from the state, a competitive program which seeks to improve the economic standing of member towns through rehabilitation, marketing and enhanced sustainability measures.

If Ellicott City is accepted into the Main Street Maryland program, it would join other historic towns throughout the state, including Annapolis, Havre de Grace, Frederick and Westminster. Hiring a dedicated staff person for the town is a prerequisite for acceptance.

In recent years, the county has dedicated more than $3 million towards renovation of Ellicott City's historic downtown. Main Street recently received a fresh coat of paint as one of 20 winners of a Benjamin Moore-sponsored contest called "Main Street Matters."

"Historic Ellicott City is one of our county's signature communities," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement.  "We are already committing millions to capital projects to make the Main Street area friendlier to pedestrians and the environment and to help merchants and residents.  We want to ensure that Ellicott City is vibrant and thriving for decades to come and this partnership to help us gain the Main Street Maryland designation will help us achieve that goal."

Hall said the economic development authority's support put Ellicott City "well on our way to achieving Main Street designation.

"Efforts like this require great partnerships and we [are] delighted to be working closely with all of the stakeholders concerned about the future of Historic Ellicott City," he said in a statement.

HCEDA CEO Lawrence F. Twele said achieving Main Street status can help Ellicott City  "build on the momentum that's growing in the historic district, increasing business and becoming even more of a focal point for economic opportunities in Howard County."