CUMBERLAND — A CSX Transportation representative told a gathering of local economic development officials Wednesday that there are properties locally that may be attractive to rail use companies and recommended the Barton Industrial Park for consideration for marketing by the transportation giant.
Jennifer Tanner, an industrial development manager for CSX, spoke about placing the property for future considerations with CSX as part of its site select program.
“I’m a site selector for the railroad for the businesses that want to come onto rail,” said Tanner.
The meeting was held at the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce. Tanner gave a presentation on CSX, which operates 21,000 miles of rail lines east of the Mississippi River, prior to talking about the site select program.
Both Mexico Farms and the Barton Industrial Park, along U.S. Route 220, were mentioned. However, Tanner gave special attention to Barton, which has 100 acres available beside the tract that holds American Woodmark Inc.
“Having 100 acres of contingent land is awesome, with access to two interstates. It also has rail running along it. Not many communities have this,” said Tanner.
Tanner said she could place the Barton tract in the program if everyone was in agreement.
Allegany County Commission President Michael McKay was interviewed about the site select program later that day.
“We have been reaching out to her (Tanner). We have had the tract listed in the program in the past,” said McKay.
McKay said they have to be careful with the listing because the program favors businesses that use rail as opposed to trucking. However, he feels they may be able to work around that issue.
“We are definitely interested in any proposals she may have,” said McKay.
Tim Carney, director of facilities for the county, has been selected to reach out to the Chamber of Commerce and Stuart Czapski, executive director and president of the chamber. Carney has been enlisted to gather input from the chamber to decide the best course in moving forward.
Allegany County’s rural location poses a challenge, but Tanner said there are companies that prefer rural settings.
“There are a lot of manufacturing companies that really do prefer rural or small town kinds of work forces,” said Tanner.
Tanner said having a vision as to what you want for the county is important.
Czapski expressed concern for the process of creating a unified vision for economic development on such matters as industrial parks.
When asked about a vision, Czapski said, “I’ll be perfectly honest, there is none.”
Tanner said it is important for communities to get behind a common idea. She said communities will even prepare tracts by putting in utilities, obtaining permits, zoning and other certifications.
We call this “shovel ready,” and it’s very attractive to companies looking to obtain a property for their business, said Tanner.
About 15 people attended the meeting including Shawn Hershberger, economic development coordinator for Cumberland; Guy Winterberg of the Tri-County Council; Bill Valentine, county commissioner; and Becky Ruppert and Tom Striplin from Allegany College of Maryland.
CSX currently employs 1,770 people in Maryland and operates 1,400 miles of rail lines in the state.
Greg Larry can be contacted at email@example.com.