Cumberland Times-News


June 26, 2014

Topic A

Plan looks at region’s economic future

The economic study of Cumberland now underway is long overdue. Besides looking at how jobs can be created locally, we hope the study will grab the attention of state government leaders.

Although it is in its early stages, the study — being conducted by RKG Associates from its Arlington, Va., office — already identifies Maryland, from an economic development perspective, as not being as competitive as some of its neighbors. Non-competitive tax rates and government regulatory impediments to businesses need to be addressed in Annapolis as well as in Cumberland and Allegany County.

RKG has listed some of the goals it has identified, including:

• Creation of jobs above median income.

• Define a tangible multi-year plan that can garner support.

• To reverse negative attitudes in the community.

• Create a new image for Cumberland that can be marketed.

• To add growth that will grow the middle class.

• To create a business case for moving past “the way it is” mentality.

The study also pinpoints the need for a regional approach to economic development. Cumberland and Allegany County are not islands — their leaders need to communicate and cooperate with governmental entities in adjoining West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Although the study focused on Cumberland, it utilized data from Allegany County and five neighboring counties of Garrett, Washington and Mineral, W.Va., as well as Somerset and Bedford counties in Pennsylvania. “You will be more successful working collaboratively, not just with the county, but with the region, than you will be on your own,” Kyle Talente, vice president of RKG, told city officials.

As the study moves forward, so will the local discussion about how to revamp the local economy. It should be Topic A in the politicking that goes on from now until the November general election. It also should be a topic for state leaders to address.

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