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Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Strate­gic Plan: A proac­tive ap­proach to shap­ing our fu­ture

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Busi­nesses and job pros­per­ity help com­mu­ni­ties flour­ish and foster a sense of lo­cal pride. Our busi­nesses have a di­rect im­pact on res­i­dents by pro­vid­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices, cre­at­ing jobs and pro­mot­ing qual­ity of life. To sup­port long-term eco­nomic pros­per­ity, the Charles County Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment re­leased a five-year Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Strate­gic Plan. The goal of the strate­gic plan is to cre­ate eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity for res­i­dents by in­creas­ing the amount of high-pay­ing jobs, en­cour­ag­ing lo­cal in­vest­ment and grow­ing the county’s com­mer­cial tax base. The plan pro­vides ac­tions — “trans­for­ma­tional ini­tia­tives” — to help us reach our goal.

The Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment de­vel­oped the plan in part­ner­ship with Devel­op­ment Coun­sel­lors In­ter­na­tional (DCI), one of the coun­try’s lead­ing con­sult­ing firms in eco­nomic devel­op­ment and tourism mar­ket­ing con­sul­tants, and Gar­ner Eco­nom­ics LLC, a team spe­cial­iz­ing in site se­lec­tion, in­dus­try tar­get­ing and or­ga­ni­za­tional devel­op­ment.

The re­port be­gins with a snapshot of the county’s over­all com­pet­i­tive­ness based on Gar­ner Eco­nom­ics’ re­search, anal­y­sis and stake­hold­ers’ feed­back. These find­ings help re­de­fine the county’s tar­get in­dus­tries and serve as the ra­tio­nale for the plan’s strate­gic rec­om­men­da­tions. High­lights in­clude: Re­de­fined tar­get in­dus­tries The plan iden­ti­fies tar­get in­dustr y groups that “best match the unique com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages” of Charles County. The plan will fo­cus on fu­ture busi­ness ex­pan­sion, re­ten­tion and at­trac­tion ef­forts to­ward com­pa­nies in the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories:

• Fed­eral con­tract­ing and high value pro­fes­sional/busi­ness ser­vices, such as tech­ni­cal con­sult­ing ser­vices, and fa­cil­i­ties and busi­ness sup­port ser­vices;

• Health ser­vices, such as of­fices of physi­cians, di­ag­nos­tic labs, health ed­u­ca­tion and res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties;

• En­tre­pre­neur­ial and re­tail devel­op­ment, such as co-work­ing cen­ters, spe­cialty stores, ho­tels and restau­rants;

• Re­search and devel­op­ment, engi­neer­ing and com­put­ing, such as sci­en­tific re­search, engi­neer­ing ser­vices, com­puter-re­lated in­dus­tries and spe­cialty man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove Charles County’s com­pet­i­tive­ness

DCI and Gar­ner Eco­nom­ics de­vel­oped 18 rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove the county’s com­pet­i­tive­ness, strengthen ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and iden­tify new in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, which fall into three main ar­eas:

Prod­uct im­prove­ments: Strengthen the county’s in­fra­struc­ture and tal­ent pipe­line to help the county at­tract the re­gion’s most tal­ented peo­ple and com­pa­nies. Ideas in­clude in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments, free pub­lic high­speed in­ter­net ac­cess and re­de­vel­op­ment of com­mer­cial cor­ri­dors.

Or­ga­ni­za­tional ad­just­ments: Changes and en­hance­ments to county gov­ern­ment to pro­vide more seam­less ser­vices and sup­port ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in in­vest­ing in the county. Rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude re­or­ga­niz­ing the depart­ment and ad­vo­cat­ing for a re­al­is­tic and sus­tain­able in­cen­tive pol­icy.

Mar­ket­ing: Ad­just­ments and en­hance­ments to the county’s on­go­ing, award-win­ning pro­gram launched in part­ner­ship with DCI, and to the adop­tion of tac­tics to com­ple­ment the new tar­gets and eco­nomic devel­op­ment strat­egy.

The strate­gic plan will be used as a tool to en­hance our county’s eco­nomic fu­ture and in­crease the vi­tal­ity of our res­i­dents. The Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment is ex­cited to launch this col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort as we look for ward into the next five years. View the strate­gic plan on­line at

Dar­rell Brown is di­rec­tor of Charles County Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment.

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