Baltimore Economic Development Corp. President David M. Gillece has resigned a week after completing a merger of BEDCO with the city's office for downtown development.
Gillece was appointed by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke four years ago and has been responsible for developing a plan to merge BEDCO with Center City Inner Harbor Development.
BEDCO's primary responsibility had been overseeing city economic development outside downtown.
A statement last night from City Hall announcing the resignation said Gillece was leaving the post, effective Oct. 4,"to pursue other opportunities in the private sector."
But one business community source said Gillece had been involved in a power struggle with Lynette Young, Schmoke's executive assistant, and Honora Freeman, the mayor's assistant for economic development. "He was caught cross-wise with the mayor over who was going to control economic development -- Gillece or the second floor of City Hall," the source said. "As is typical in these cases, the guy on the front line loses and the palace guard wins."
The announcement said Gillece would be replaced Oct. 7 by Freeman, an attorney who has worked in the mayor's office since 1989. The merged organization will be called Baltimore City Development Corp., the statement said.
The merger had been in the works for some time, but combining the two staffs was completed only last week, when Center City Inner Harbor Development personnel moved to BEDCO headquarters in Charles Center South.
In the statement, Schmoke praised Gillece's work as head of BEDCO and his analysis of the effects of the merger.
Gillece could not be reached for comment. Clinton Coleman, a spokesman for Schmoke, said he did not know where Gillece would be going. He was not fired, Coleman insisted.
Robert Keller, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, praised Gillece's work as head of BEDCO but conceded he may be biased because Gillece was once economic development director at GBC. "He has tremendous credibility in the business community," Keller said. He declined to comment on Gillece's departure.
Yesterday, Schmoke expressed confidence that the merger would quicken and streamline development decisions in the city. "Baltimore, in the 1990s, needs a new and more flexible approach to growth, livability and job creation," he said.