Washington County business leaders: Economy took baby steps in 2012
Peggy Bushey President of Cavetown Planing Mill and CAVCO Homes at her Cavetown office. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / January 5, 2013)
So, why the ups and downs in his sales?
Weiss isn’t the only company experiencing such uncertainty.
To hear what’s going on statewide, Maryland’s comptroller of the treasury held an Economic Advisory Forum in November.
The event drew business leaders from throughout the state, Comptroller Peter Franchot said. It’s his office that receives the sales tax collections every month from businesses statewide.
“The private sector is telling us that the underlying economic insecurity out there is causing unpredictable ups and downs from month to month,” Franchot said.
“This prevents businesses from being able to confidently plan ahead, which means they’re not hiring new employees, promoting from within or making investments in their company’s future,” he said.
The uncertainty is being fueled largely by unresolved national and international issues, according to business leaders in the Tri-State area.
“It’s such a fragile global economy right now and it’s fragile-looking at (whatever may come nationally in) the tax policy,” said L. Michael Ross, who has been president of the Franklin County (Pa.) Area Development Corp. for 17 years.
Based in Chambersburg, Pa., the nonprofit organization works to keep existing businesses in the area and to recruit other businesses.
“I think in talking with local employers right now, there is optimism (about the economy), but not confidence,” Ross said. “I think that is what we’re seeing” with the economic ups and downs.
Real estate ups and downs
Ross said several new business projects are under way or have been announced in 2012 in Franklin County, with some of the most significant planned in the area off Interstate 81 just north of Washington County.
“The Exit 3 interchange in Greencastle (Pa.), which is like three miles across the line, (is drawing) $175 million worth of investment,” Ross said.
Projects include Norfolk Southern railroad’s nearly $95 million facility, where hundreds of trucks will carry freight in and out every day. Other projects include a new distribution center and a manufacturing plant, he said.
In Washington County, building permits show the year’s new construction has included some medical office buildings, as well as new restaurants and stores.
This month, New England Motor Freight moved into its new trucking terminal in Halfway. And FedEx Ground said it is going to begin building a major addition to its package distribution center nearby, starting early in 2013 and finishing by fall 2014.
But overall, Washington County didn’t see any increase in 2012 in the levels of construction activity of either commercial or residential buildings, according to the newspaper’s review of building permit records.
And the county’s real estate market has started its own series of ups and downs.