Officials discuss how to make economic development boom in Washington County

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Officials met with Washington County Commissioners Tuesday to talk about the top two issues facing economic development in the county.

Economic development commissioners said the focus needs to be on work force development and branding the county.

During the meeting, economic development officials asked commissioners to partner with Washington County Public Schools to target students, as young as middle schoolers, to expose them to the different career and work opportunities offered in the county.

“The jobs are here, and there are really good jobs, but it’s training the children that are in our area at a younger age to be not necessarily college-ready but career-ready,” Julie Rohm, Volunteer Board, Chair, Washington County Economic Development Commission, said.

The county’s economic development commission also proposed creating a grant program to help out businesses.

“We’re proposing to the commissioners of having grants available that businesses could apply for to help further the education of existing employees,” Rohm said.

“Technology changes so rapidly, and we have to keep up with that. As new needs develop, we [need to] stay on top of it,” Wayne Keefer, a Washington County Commissioner, said.

Officials also talked about ways to rebrand the county to attract more people to the area.

“[The goal is] taking in Washington County as a solid brand and something really robust that everyone falls. [Ideally,] when you come to our website, you come to a billboard, if you come to an article or somewhere, you know it’s Washington County, and it’s a great place to live, work and play,” Rohm said.

“We need to maybe look at attracting those people that like to play here. Maybe, there’s living opportunities or work opportunities, and that can bring them into the community at a different capacity,” Keefer said.

Officials came up with these two issues after visiting 35 businesses throughout the county last week for Business Economic Development Week.

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