Starting Over in Baltimore County

July 01, 1992

Though Kenneth C. Nohe resigned as the director of Baltimore County's Economic Development Commission on June 29, the actual end of his reign probably came a few weeks earlier. That was when the county Chamber of Commerce decided it had had enough of Mr. Nohe's misadventures and formed its own group in an effort to give the county some semblance of economic vision.

Government and business leaders alike have made known their displeasure over the lack of economic initiative by County Executive Roger B. Hayden's administration. They laid much of the blame for this inertia on the Nohe-run development commission, and their frustration evolved into extreme irritation as Mr. Nohe, appointed by Mr. Hayden last November, was hounded by one controversy after another.

Last March, Mr. Nohe raised more than a few eyebrows in Towson when he fired three commission staffers, two of them veteran officials with solid reputations. Then it was learned that Mr. Nohe had spent more than $2,000 in county money on a series of official meetings at posh restaurants. Late April brought the resignation of attorney A. Samuel Cook, the commission chairman and a figure of respect in both the private and public sectors in Towson.

Then, last month, Chamber of Commerce officials created their new Economic Development Alliance. In doing so, they essentially declared that they would set the county's business agenda because Ken Nohe's commission seemed capable of developing little more than acute anxiety among county leaders. Even Roger Hayden reportedly told the chamber's leaders that he would be receptive to the work of the new alliance. That wasn't exactly a vote of confidence in Mr. Nohe. Now, less than a month after Mr. Hayden and the chamber officials met, Mr. Nohe is gone.

The Hayden administration should waste little time crafting sensible plans for the development of Baltimore County's economy. Also, Mr. Nohe's successor would do well to improve the lines of communication to large and small business operators. In fact, one of the first things the new economic development chief should develop is a better working relationship with the business community. As we've seen, the alternative hasn't done much good.

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