To have a good neighbor, you must be a good neighbor.
Harford County has seen that familiar aphorism borne out in the quality of new businesses that have relocated there in recent years. While the county development office weighs tax base, job creation, economic and environmental impacts, it also evaluates the community involvement record of companies it wants to attract to Harford. "For a company to be successful in the long run, it needs to be committed to the community," says the county's economic development chief James Fielder. "We look at its record in other locations."
A good example of that corporate good neighbor is the Clorox Co., which has made its mark on the community even though its new Perryman facility is not yet finished and the first group of local employees was hired only a few weeks ago.
Visitors to the county Farm Fair this year saw ample evidence of the newcomer, which sponsored exhibitions and handed out 1,000 frisbees on "Kids Day." Behind the scenes, company managers volunteered to help set up bleachers for the event.
Two Harford high schools are getting money from Clorox for computer labs that will benefit their dropout prevention program. Plant manager James Berger is already an active board member of the community college's foundation and the county Economic Development Advisory Board. "It's the right way to do business, giving something back to the community," he says.
Much has been said about the magic worked by Harford's fast-track permit approval system in persuading businesses to locate in the county. But it's important to remember that only one in 10 prospects gets that red carpet treatment; a company's community involvement record is one criterion for such favored treatment.
Clorox is not the only example of a good corporate neighbor. Mr. Fielder says that hundreds of Harford businesses share that outlook. But the company's marked effort to build solid community relations from its early arrival sets a strong example for other newcomers to emulate.