City urged to develop its ‘brand’

CHARLES TOWN – Charles Town’s population grew 81 percent in the last decade, but less than 5 percent of the town’s population both live and work inside its borders, according to an economic development report given to city officials recently.

[cleeng_content id="259973017" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Representatives from Camoin Associates and Thomas P. Miller and Associates, which presented preliminary findings of an ongoing $50,000 study to the Charles Town Council at a meeting last week. They said just 219 people live and work inside its borders, indicating that Charles Town has an

extremely high degree of economic interconnection with the surrounding area.

The consultants, who hopes to complete the report by February, were hired by city officials to develop a concerted economic development strategy.

To achieve that, the consultant told city leaders Charles Town should work to develop a brand in order to draw in more tourism dollars and a more clear identity in the eyes of visitors.

The consultant said traffic to Hollywood Casino presents the town with a major opportunity to draw visitors into secondary activities based on the town’s historical assets.

“Charles Town has historical significance (Washington Family, John Brown, Fisherman’s Hall, etc.), a destination attraction (Hollywood Casino at Charles Town races), and proximity to DC/Baltimore but not a clear identity/brand,” the preliminary report states.

Camoin indicated the town has not been able to establish itself as a primary destination for the county in the way that Harpers Ferry has been able to, despite major historical resources. Much of the problem, the consultant said, lies with the fact that many of the sites are not well marked, can be difficult to find, may not be publicly accessible or are in need of repairs.

City manager Joe Cosentini said the study had confirmed the intuitions of the town’s leaders.

“I think the preliminary findings were very much in line with what we had thought they were going to be,” he said. “It was good to have a third party come in and confirm some of the suspicions we had.”

“I don’t believe we’ve done a really good job of telling our own story, of putting what we are good at out there,” he said. “I think there are so many different things that we could build on that we really need to pick a few and showcase them.”

Among the most striking facts highlighted by the report is Charles Town’s extremely high degree of economic linkage with the region.

According to the report, 2,148 people commute out of town to find work, while 2,674 outside residents commute into town. Only 219 people, less than five percent of the town’s population, both live and work inside its borders.

The report also points to the city’s impressive population growth rate – 81 percent between 2000 and 2010 – and the education level of its work force, which is slightly above the national average and much higher than the state average, as important assets for promoting future growth.

Cosentini said the consultants will now begin working with town officials to help build specific strategies to promote economic development in the city.

“Over the next few months, they are going to be working with me and other staff members to look at what policies we can put in place to achieve some of the goals we have identified,” he said. “There are a lot of things that we can build upon. These are the things that will give us the biggest bang for our buck.”[/cleeng_content]


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