Commissioners sign off on block grant application
Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News
OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners ap-proved the signing of documents regarding an application for a Keysers Ridge Business Park creation project during a public hearing earlier this week.
The application through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Block Grant program will provide $625,000 for new construction for job creation at the park, according to Frank Shap, acting director of the Department of Economic Development.
“The CDBG funds are available for the restricted use of job creation,” said Shap. “The $3 million project requires matching funds that will assist in the construction of a new 10,000-square-foot facility for a business to locate at Keysers Ridge park.”
The park has 224 available acres, according to the Economic Development website.
The CDBG program is a federally sponsored program designed to assist units of general local government with activities directed toward neighborhood and housing revitalization, economic development and improved community facilities and services.
Maryland’s program is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, in close cooperation with the Department of Business and Economic Development.
Also during the commission meeting, the board announced the appointment of Michael Koch, co-owner and board president of FireFly Farms, as the director of the Department of Economic Development. Koch replaces Jim Hinebaugh, who retired in September.
“We made a decision to move forward and form a committee in search of a replacement,” said commission chairman Robert Gatto. “It was a good process; we had an excellent committee. We had a good turnout of applicants. Many applicants were qualified and they (the committee) had a tough time making a decision.”
Koch thanked the commissioners; Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator; the economic development team and Hinebaugh for their work.
“I’m very pleased and honored to be joining the economic development team,” said Koch. “I want to commit to you all that I will use all my talents, energies, creativity as well as my business and personal network to these ends: Grow the size, diversity and health of the Garrett County economy.”
Koch said that he and the economic development team will have a threefold focus, which will include working to grow county business; working with the Chamber of Commerce to grow existing businesses and to attract new businesses; and working to develop new and enhanced county infrastructure and to increase county tourism.
“We’ll work to ensure that Garrett County secures its place as a regionally and nationally renowned destination,” said Koch. “We’ll be as transparent as the lawyers allow us to be with our community and do everything we can to encourage engagement and collaboration.”
Koch also plans on targeting specific business sectors that are aligned with the county’s assets and interests and leveraging the work of the ongoing county branding study.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at firstname.lastname@example.org.