Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 22, 2013

Major ally

CSX offers county help in economic development

Getting CSX Transportation’s assistance in helping Allegany County with its economic development effort has the potential to be a big payoff for the county.

At a meeting of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce last week, Jennifer Tanner, an industrial development manager for CSX, spoke about including the Barton Industrial Park along U.S. Route 220 in the rail company’s site selection program. County officials indicated they have already reached out to CSX for assistance.

CSX has had vast success in helping other communities attract jobs. In 2010, for example, the rail company said its customers committed to 130 new or expanded facilities on CSX Transportation lines like the one adjacent to the Barton park. The result was 5,200 new jobs in 18 states, including markets such as energy, consumer goods and manufacturing. Overall, $3.6 billion in customer investments were made that year as a result of CSX Transportation’s site selection program.

At last week’s meeting, both the Barton Industrial Park and Mexico Farms were mentioned because of their proximity to CSX rail lines. But it is Barton, with its availability of 100 acres, that is most prime for economic development.

“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. She said she could place the Barton tract in the program if everyone was in agreement.

The next step should be laying the groundwork to get the partnership moving. 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.

Allegany County officials should sign on the dotted line as soon as possible. Having CSX partner with the county in trying to bring jobs to the county can only be a good thing.

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