Bill Stern has lived in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now he lives in Washington. But the place he really wants to be is Baltimore.
And if his new business venture works as planned, that's exactly where he'll be.
Late last year, Mr. Stern, 45, opened the first East Coast office of the Beverly Hills, Calif., public relations firm Media Resource Group. Located in Washington, the office is serving the entire Baltimore-Washington region until he can open a second office in Baltimore early next year, he said.
"I love this area personally, and I feel that from the business side there are more emerging companies here than in New York," Mr. Stern said, noting that Media Resources' president originally wanted to locate an Eastern office in New York. Mr. Stern convinced him prospects were brighter in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
Mr. Stern's affection for Baltimore dates back to the eight years he spent here during the height of the city's renaissance. Soon after the New Jersey native moved here in 1974, he became one of the founders of Sascha's restaurant and catering firm. In 1978, he went to work for Image Dynamics, a Baltimore public relations firm.
As partner and executive vice president of Media Resource, Mr. Stern says he hopes to bring the firm's "subtle creativity" -- which he defines as "effective without being obnoxious" -- to the Baltimore-Washington region.
"I think a lot of them [public relations firms] just bang out the boilerplate," he said, adding that the resources of the region, especially the "marvelous graphics designers" from the Maryland Institute of Art, are underused.
While Media Resource hopes to achieve high visibility in the region, it won't have much impact on the region's employment base. Mr. Stern said the firm keeps a small full-time staff while drawing on a nationwide network of free-lance talent for specific assignments.
Now he just has to convince the region's businesses that there is no need to turn to high-priced, high-profile New York or Los Angeles firms for important assignments.
"They don't realize there is tremendous creativity right here in their own backyard at probably half the price," he said.