Duties of the Tri-County Council for Western Maryland originated with the Governor's Council for Appalachian Maryland in 1968. The Governor's Council was replaced in 1971 by the Tri-County Council for Western Maryland, a nonprofit corporation chartered to serve Maryland's western counties. Formerly under the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Council became an independent agency in 1986 (Chapter 861, Acts of 1986).

The Council is an association of the governments of Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. It serves as a regional planning and development agency for the tri-county area. The Council works to enhance the quality of economic development in the region and strengthen relationships among its local governments.

Using State aid, the Council fosters the physical, economic and social development of Western Maryland. The Council also receives planning assistance funds from the federal Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission to administer regional economic development programs. Such programs create or retain permanent jobs and improve the standard of living for the unemployed and underemployed in the most distressed areas of the region. To facilitate planning, the Council may study regional resources; gather and analyze social and economic data; and join with other government agencies, educational institutions, and private organizations in coordinating research.

The Council's program for direct business assistance and enterprise development provides a variety of business financing tools and technical assistance, including a Revolving Loan Fund program, and Data Center Services. Local government aid focuses on grants writing and technical assistance, database resources, regional education, and intergovernmental cooperation.

Twenty-six members comprise the Council. From each county, two County Commissioners, the Economic Development Director, two mayors, and two private citizens serve on the Council. The House of Delegates delegation chairs from Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties and the area's two State Senators also serve on the Council. Annually, the Council submits its proposed program and operating budget for the next fiscal year to the Department of Business and Economic Development (Chapter 310, Acts of 2011; Code Economic Development Article, secs. 13-701 through 13-733).

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