Economic development, tourism is a ‘people business'

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The article, "Will ‘Meet Charles' work?" [Maryland Independent, June 23], highlighted the fundamental lack of commonsense leadership among our current Charles County commissioners.

The article alluded to a very critical flaw in the newly launched economic development and tourism website.

After a prospective new business has researched this new website and gathered all of the information it has to offer, who do you call for further assistance? You are directed by "Charles" to call the voice mail system at the county government.

Since the commissioners have fired the staff and eliminated the department, who will listen to the messages and follow up with a phone call? Who will answer questions about the current business climate, median income, workforce, housing, taxes, school and transportation infrastructure, population, demographics, available land and county zoning regulations here?

I admit I am not an expert in economic development and tourism, but I am a businessman whose very livelihood depends on my ability to meet the needs and wants of current and potential customers.

Of course, my business also has a website with a lot of useful information for folks, which is designed to entice them to call and set up an appointment with me.

And when they call, that's what they'll get — an appointment with me at the earliest possible opportunity. Meeting the demands of current and potential customers is just plain common sense in the business world.

Economic development and tourism is a people business, not a website business. What good is a website if there are no economic development professionals to answer the phone and provide critical answers to prospective and existing businesses contemplating expanding, closing or locating to Charles County?

Commissioner Gary Hodge was quoted as saying, "Tourism requires development and investment. … We really need a five-year capital program for tourism, to show how the county is going to partner with the state and federal government to develop some of our assets so we have a genuinely deep and significant program of sites and attractions people will be interested in seeing in Charles County."

Commissioner Hodge has been in office for almost four years and only now sees the importance of a development and investment in tourism after he eliminated the department and fired the staff whose job it was to work on it?

As a longtime Charles County resident and business owner, I'm asking, "Where is the commonsense leadership?"

Bob Denny, Waldorf