Our New Hyper-Region

January 01, 1993

Well, look at you.

You look mah-velous. And well you should. Uncle Sam just decided to call you Washington-Baltimore. Don't yewwww feel special?

Maybe we shouldn't kid about such matters. Some area business leaders took very seriously the federal government's joining -- on paper -- of the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan statistical areas into a single hyper-region. The benefits could range from international corporations and retailers deciding to locate in this market because it's now the nation's fourth largest, to decisions on where to slather the federal budget butter. And in spite of the two cities' polarity of personality, there is merit to the argument that the land mass roughly bracketed by the Blue Ridge mountains and Chesapeake Bay shares a dynamic of growth and change over the past decade.

So the joining makes sense, even if the cadence of the new name is a tad choppy. (WBI Airport? It'll never happen). But, hey, if the bureaucracy had an ear for rhythm, the nation's capital would be in Detroit and it'd be churning out sheet music, not regulations, right? Some people believed Baltimore deserved to come first in the combined name simply because a federal rule stated the core city with the larger population, in this case Baltimore, should come first. Doesn't the fact that the Office of Management and Budget violated its own arcane regulation on a whim feed the stereotype of pointy-headed pencil pushers creating decrees that aren't worth the paper they'rephotocopied If that seems like sour grapes, it isn't meant as such. In fact, Baltimore and Maryland come off quite well in spite of the name choice. Everyone acknowledges that the capital and its well-to-do Virginia suburbs are a world-class drawing card for commerce. To the extent we can sponge off of that as a sales tool, super. Also, the higher cost of living in the Washington area will drive up pay classifications for government workers in the region, so federal employees who live in Baltimore should receive higher salaries over time. The converse will be true in the D.C. area, whose pay class will be diluted by the lower common market average.

There's no real loser in this corner, unless you count Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who didn't gain standing as a political street fighter for his city in this episode.

More business? Greater pay? A higher profile? Hey, we win for losing. Pass us some of that there keeesh and bree, will ya hon?

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