New director of development takes charge Retired banker lured to Baltimore Co. job

September 03, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

E. Neil Jacobs' experience in landing his new $70,300 job as director of Baltimore County's Economic Development Commission was a bit different than most in these tough economic times.

He was happily retired from his career as a high-ranking bank executive, lying on the beach at Rehoboth, Del., when his former boss called and persuaded him to come back to work.

Mr. Jacobs, a tall, friendly, 54-year-old Roland Park resident arrived for his first day on the job yesterday, and although he wasn't sure of everyone's name yet, he was very clear about his role.

"I'm the implementer," he said, a point reinforced by County Executive Roger B. Hayden, who appointed him, and by H. Grant Hathaway, commission chairman and the man who recruited him.

Mr. Hathaway is still in the banking business, serving as chairman of Maryland National Bank and vice chairman of MNC Financial, Inc.

Mr. Jacobs' first task, both men said, is to help complete the economic development strategy the commission has been writing all summer, and then put it into action without the "flashing lights" of controversy and publicity that dogged Kenneth C. Nohe when he was director.

Mr. Nohe resigned June 29 after eight turbulent months on the job. He was severely criticized for spending $1,700 in budgeted funds for business entertainment dinners in one month last winter, for summarily firing three high-ranking staff members, and for allegedly excluding A. Samuel Cook, the former commission director, from policy decisions. Mr. Cook resigned shortly before Mr. Nohe.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Hayden appointed new commission members to fill 13 vacancies on the 25-member body.

The county executive said that although Mr. Jacobs lacks experience in public service and economic development, he liked Mr. Jacobs for the director's job because of his "good visibility in the business community," and his "good track record."

Mr. Jacobs retired in 1991 as president and chief executive officer of the Bank of Maryland, and previously was executive vice president of the Community Banking Group at Equitable Bank.

Mr. Jacobs served in the U.S. Army for four years, and graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 1963.

He worked 10 years for First National Bank, then spent 15 years at Equitable, where he worked under Mr. Hathaway.

Working for the county, he said, will be "different and important. I just think it's going to be interesting."

The county executive, who has been meeting with the volunteer commission all summer, said he and Mr. Jacobs "will be spending a lot of time together."

In the future, Mr. Hathaway said, the commission should concentrate on existing county businesses and not worry so much about finding large new businesses who might "parachute in."

He said he wants the new director and commission members to help find out what county businesses think of their relations with county government, and what support they may need.

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