Business council tries to head off plant closures Ambassadors visit local companies

June 17, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

The state's chamber of commerce is testing ways to keep businesses in Maryland through a fleet of ambassadors visiting Anne Arundel County companies this summer.

When they visit clients in the county in June and July, some 68 representatives of C&P Telephone Co. of Maryland, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and First National Bank will ask a few extra questions to catch potential problems before they mushroom.

The Maryland Business Council, parent company of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, expects that a grass-roots assistance network will help businesses expand and avert surprise plant closings or moves out of state, said Donald P. Hutchinson, the business council's president and former Baltimore county executive.

The group hopes to take the program statewide after testing it in the county and Baltimore city through the end of July.

By enlisting the help of utilities and banks, which also will benefit by keeping businesses in state, the council figured it could tie into existing customer service efforts and keep the costs of the program down.

Bank and utility officers, during regular calls on customers, will ask about reorganizations, shifts in operations, increases or decreases in the work force, changes to the physical plant and ways local or state government could help.

The business council would then sort out the responses and direct them to the appropriate city or county agency.

In Anne Arundel, the council would pass concerns to the non-profit Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., the privatized version of what used to be the county Office of Economic Development.

"We're trying to be more pro-active, so we can anticipate problems and get a feel for where the company is in its game plan," said Rosemary Duggins, the development corporation's marketing director.

The council chose Anne Arundel and Baltimore city so it could test markets that didn't mimic each other, said Jane Shaab, director of marketing for the Maryland Economic Growth Associates, the council's marketing arm.

This year through April, 23 county companies moved -- most for larger quarters within the county, Ms. Duggins said.

The state program should serve as a business complement to a program known as "The County Comes To You," in which County Executive Robert R. Neall has been making visits to communities around the county to hear their concerns.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.