After the Nohe era

July 08, 1992

Kenneth C. Nohe's short and troubled tenure as director of Baltimore County's Economic Development Commission came to a merciful end with his resignation last week.

During his seven months in the job, Mr. Nohe exhibited more of a talent for generating controversy than for creating an economic vision. Indeed, if the brief Nohe era was not very substantive, it was at least interesting. Maybe too interesting.

County business leaders followed Mr. Nohe's misadventures with no small amount of anxiety. The April resignation of commission chairman A. Samuel Cook, a respected local attorney, was a particularly telling event. Business people wondered, if such a valued figure was at odds with the administration of County Executive Roger B. Hayden, then how solid was the county's economic development program?

Leaders of the county Chamber of Commerce thought they knew the answer to that question all too well, so they recently moved to form a group called the Economic Development

Alliance. Similarities between the name and the goals of the chamber's new group and those of the commission formerly directed by Mr. Nohe were hardly coincidental. Nor was it a good omen for Mr. Nohe when the county executive said, shortly before Mr. Nohe's resignation, that the chamber's group would have his ear.

Since the departure of Ken Nohe, Mr. Hayden has taken the positive step of naming Maryland National Bank chairman H. Grant Hathaway to replace Sam Cook as commission chairman. Now the county executive should act just as quickly to find a new economic development director with credentials to match those of Mr. Hathaway, and fill the 12 current vacancies on the 24-member commission. Those moves would go a long way toward restoring the business community's trust in the county's development agency.

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