As chairman of Ryland Corp., Roger Schipke's weekdays begin with a reverse commute to Columbia in his tan Lexus. Ryland's bread and butter may be the construction of new homes in suburbia, but Mr. Schipke loves living in downtown Baltimore.
Not long after Mr. Schipke took over as chairman and chief executive of Ryland, he and his wife, Jackie, bought a three-bedroom condo at Harbor Court Towers in the Inner Harbor. He relishes the fact that the condo lets the couple walk to city attractions ranging from their favorite Greek and Italian restaurants to the new baseball stadium.
The city is more than Mr. Schipke's preferred place to live. He is also committed to the belief that if the city flounders, the whole region suffers economically.
"If the cities of this country are neglected, we're all going to have to pay for it in the form of social programs," he says.
Having risen to the top of the region's corporate power structure in less than two years, Mr. Schipke is in a position to effectively promote his urban viewpoint.
He was elected one of two vice chairmen of the Greater Baltimore Committee in May, and could head the influential business organization as early as 1994. Both he and the other co-chairman, William L. Jews, head of Landover-based Dimensions Health Corp., are convinced that the needs of Baltimore should rank high on the GBC's agenda.
"There has to be a redistribution of wealth," says Mr. Schipke, noting that many suburbanites who commute to Baltimore rely during working hours on such city services as fire and police protection, yet pay no taxes for them.
Mr. Schipke doesn't believe it is his role as a GBC leader to push specific legislation in the General Assembly, but he argues that the organization should highlight the importance of urban issues.
"Roger believes that the city is a viable, vibrant place to be, with opportunities for economic development," says Joseph Haskins Jr., president of Harbor Bank of Maryland and the GBC's treasurer. "The fact that he lives in the city is evidence of that."
Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., chief executive officer of Crown Central Petroleum Corp. and GBC board member, says that Mr. Schipke's urban emphasis is in line with other top GBC members."He knows that as the city goes, so goes the entire state," Mr. Rosenberg says.