Grant sought to pay consultant for downtowns marketing plan


Carroll County's eight municipalities will have another advocate for downtown renewal if the state approves a $20,000 Maryland Main Street Improvement Grant for consulting services.

Yesterday, the county commissioners agreed to apply for the grant, which will pay part of a $50,000 salary for a proposed full-time consultant to devise a general marketing plan for all Carroll County's downtown areas.

The completed plan would include specific suggestions on attracting businesses and customers to the individual municipalities.

County mayors, particularly Mayor Kenneth W. Clark of Sykesville, requested the additional support at their quarterly meeting with Carroll County officials last week.

"Each town has its own attributes that it will want to promote,"

said William E. Jenne, Carroll County's economic development administrator. "This will be a liaison to help each municipality market itself."

County money will cover $22,000 of the pay, and the county will provide in-kind services for the one-year job. Municipalities will divide the remaining $8,000, Mr. Jenne said. The grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match from local sources, he said.

"The Economic Development Commission tends to focus on industrial development," said Robert A. "Max" Bair, the commissioners' administrative assistant. "We don't have the capabilities in-house to do this type of thing."

County officials will know next spring whether they won the grant, for which the application deadline was yesterday, said county grants analyst Michille Hyde. If approved, the position would be part of the fiscal year 1995 budget, which begins July 1.

"It's likely the award will be closer to $15,000," Ms. Hyde said. "A decision [whether or not to accept it] can be made at the time of the award, based on municipal support and the amount of the grant."

Initially, the county commissioners were reluctant to approve the application, wondering if the investment was worthwhile.

"I'm not against revitalizing the downtown areas," said Commissioner Julia W. Gouge. "How often I've sat in meetings at the town level where we talked about revitalization.

"They have to realize this is only a beginning; we're not going to hand them something on a plate. There needs to be lots of work lTC with this money and lots of cooperation with the council and staff to make this happen."

Mr. Jenne and Ms. Hyde assured the commissioners that municipal leaders realize how much work is ahead of them.

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