CUMBERLAND — Allegany County and the Rocky Gap casino project may benefit from a state designation recently granted to portions of the county by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
“This means jobs for Allegany County. This means growth for Allegany County,” said Allegany County Commission President Michael McKay.
McKay cautioned that the program was not a magic bullet that would solve all of the county’s economic problems.
Gov. Martin O’Malley and his staff were a great help in obtaining the designation, McKay said.
“He really looked out for Allegany County,” McKay said.
The Targeted Employment Area designation is designed to attract foreign investment.
In return for their investment in the United States, immigrant investors can obtain visas for themselves and family members.
“This is an exciting announcement. ... It gives the City of Cumberland an additional tool for economic development,” said Mayor Brian Grim.
The designation includes the Willowbrook Road corridor, a priority for the city to develop medical facilities.
A TEA is “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average,” and requires a distressed county designation by the state.
The geographic area of the TEA spans locations from the County’s North Branch Industrial Park, South Cumberland, the Willowbrook Road corridor to Rocky Gap State Park.
“The above referenced program requires that the investor make a capital investment of either $500,000 or $1 million (depending on whether the investment is in a TEA or not) in a new commercial enterprise located within the United States and must create or preserve 10 full-time jobs within two years,” according to a county press release.
“The county is committed to working with all developers, the State of Maryland, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Maryland Center for Foreign Investment to make the Rocky Gap project a viable economic engine for the region,” said Commissioner Bill Valentine.
The Rocky Gap project could benefit from immigrant investment, but now the designation is in place, pursuing those funds is up to the developer. The county is no longer involved in the program, Valentine said.
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