For those who work in economic development, pointing out a community’s assets is part of the job. But sometimes, it’s what its citizens say that makes a difference. This is a true story told by a local businessman who’s now in Southern Maryland but moved here from another state.
A company representative was visiting a small city in that other state to explore the community and check out sites for the company’s relocation. On his first day in town, he asked the desk clerk at his hotel, “Is this a good town to live and work?” The clerk had nothing good to say about the community, only criticism and complaints. The business representative cut his trip short right then and there, telling his contacts that he could not recommend relocation to a place where the citizens were so unhappy.
Ouch! A tough loss for that community’s economic development team.
Of course, no one will ever know what might have happened if that desk clerk had given a glowing review of the town. But it’s highly unlikely that would have been the moment that sealed the deal, either.
Businesses and site selectors make location decisions based on a lot of objective – and some subjective – criteria. Available workforce is always one of the top concerns. Of course, cost matters, including cost of labor, cost of real estate, taxes, utilities, and such. Transportation and other infrastructure are imperative, and every business wants business-friendly local policies. Chances are, no one of those factors would be the reason a community would be selected during a business site search, but any one of them – along with others, such as a dissatisfied desk clerk – could be the reason a community is eliminated.
No place is perfect. There are challenges in any community, including ours. But there are a lot of really smart people in both the public and the private sectors working very hard to make and keep Charles County a great place to live, work, and play. And those efforts are much easier and likely to succeed when we collaborate to improve what’s not working and together celebrate what works.
Another true story
A site selector was doing a walk-through of a building that had been identified as a prospect for a company looking to relocate. It turned out that the building was all wrong. The economic development officials on site called the local Chamber of Commerce and within minutes had other buildings lined-up to show the client. The company ended up moving to that town and to one of those buildings. Among the reasons given, was the spirit of cooperation and teamwork demonstrated by community stakeholders.
Charles County has a lot going for it. The message that the Charles County Economic Development Department highlights when promoting the county is “Close to Washington DC; low cost of doing business; and a well-educated, talented workforce.” There’s a lot more. Let’s all show our community spirit and tell the story of all that’s good about Charles County, using the hashtag #MyCharlesCounty. Your voice can make a difference.