A letter from the editor

May 16, 1991|By Catherine E. Pugh

The declining economy is certainly having an impact on area (( businesses. Just a few weeks ago, Maryland's largest bank announced layoffs of some 1,000 employees, while another local firm held counseling sessions for some 200 long-time employees who were unexpectedly terminated.

today's depressed economy, many businesses are trying to figure out how to do more with less. Terms like streamlining, downsizing, cutting away the fat, trimming the budget, are being tossed around.

Companies are not only scrambling to survive, but are trying to maintain market shares at the same time that they wrestle with the reality of the shrinking economy. Because of the economy, people are more careful about how they spend and where they spend their dollars.

Local retailers are seeing sales drop 20, 30 and 40 percent from previous years, and there is hardly a day that goes by that you don't read or hear about branches, outlets, franchises or plants closing.

No business seems to be immune. The real questions stalking employers are: Where does it stop? When does it turn around? How long can I hold on?

What is the formula that will get our economy back on its feet and provide job security for today's work force? Well, I do not profess to have the answer, but I do know that we have to be more creative and more concentrated.

Recently, I sat down with one of my friends to discuss, as we

often do, everything from world politics and the world economy to local politics and the local economy. One area we were in concert on was that while Maryland's economy still remains intact, we are feeling the pinch from a downturned economy. To tackle this problem, we need a more global approach.

Those in the forefront of guiding our state's economy need to be less concerned with luring companies to Maryland to relocate, and more concerned with finding ways to develop the businesses existing in our state. We talked about the importance of developing strategies that will help our businesses do business outside the state and abroad.

I am sure my friend was pleased to learn that some Maryland companies will be doing business in Kuwait. We have moved to a global economy, and thus our perspective has to change in that direction. We can no longer afford to confine our business growth to our own back yards.

As no business is safe from the state of the economy, neither is any job. Two weeks ago, I held a breakfast discussion with about 15 black professionals to talk about the economy and its impact on their professions. While they agreed that the economy has created much concern, they were quick to point out that professionals, black or white, who could and were making a contribution to the bottom line of a company were less apt to be affected by the shifting economy.

The conversation lasted more than two hours, and included many concerns. There was some common ground. We agreed that developing an entrepreneurial spirit among themselves and their counterparts, and encouraging young people to obtain the skills to run a business, would be a step in the right direction. This concept would help eliminate the feelings of hopelessness in a shrinking economy. You'll read more about that discussion in this issue.

Also in this issue, we profile some black professionals in the local corporate structure who are making contributions, not only to their companies but to their communities.

We also look back five years to the Maryland corporate board structure we reported on to see if it has become more inclusive, and it has not.

Finally, in this issue, we look at five professionals that we profiled five years ago to see where they are today.

I found this issue an interesting pursuit and want to thank those who joined me for our breakfast discussion. It was fruitful. I also want to thank the Baltimore Sun for making this issue possible.

HC

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