Story to head county agency Towson executive gets economic development post

September 08, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

Richard W. Story, a business development manager for a Towson design and construction contracting company, will head Howard County's Department of Economic Development.

The Reisterstown resident, who has held management posts in other economic development offices in the region, will begin work Sept. 20, Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker said yesterday.

The new director will be paid $69,436 a year.

"I'm pleased that our county could attract an individual with such a high degree of economic development experience," said Mr. Ecker, referring to Mr. Story's 14 years of experience in the field. The executive said he interviewed several people for the job.

David Carney, a lawyer who is chairman of the county's economic development advisory council, is enthusiastic about Mr. Story's appointment.

"He's a career professional in the field," Mr. Carney said. "He represents a really good catch with significant potential for what we need."

Mr. Ecker said he was particularly impressed with Mr. Story's wide experience with economic development issues in the Baltimore and Washington areas.

"The county is pushed and pulled between Baltimore and Washington," he said. "We have residents who work in both cities, so we have to have a regional approach while also not forgetting to focus on the county."

Mr. Story will fill the post vacated by William H. Howard Jr., who resigned unexpectedly Aug. 16 after nine months in the director's post. His predecessor, Dyan Brasington, served about months.

Some County Council members have said the office needs stability at the top. Mr. Story attempted yesterday to allay those concerns.

"I plan to make this a long-term venture," he said of his new appointment.

Mr. Story, 48, was selected from about 200 applicants for the post after Ms. Brasington resigned last year. He takes over an office with five employees and a $1 million annual budget.

The economic development office is responsible for developing and administering tourism, employment and training programs, and attracting and retaining businesses. It also administers county arts and cultural grants.

One of his primary duties in the new job will be to shepherd the economic development office's transition from a county department to an economic development authority financed partly with private money and public grants. After the change -- scheduled for March 1994 -- Mr. Story will report to a nine-member board of directors and the county executive.

"My immediate task will be to get the authority up and running and staffed," said Mr. Story. "When the department changes to an authority, I think our work will be remarkably similar to what it's doing now."

Mr. Carney, who has been named to serve on the authority's board, said Mr. Story's challenges at the helm will include limited staff and budget money.

"He's going to have to wear a lot of hats and be hands-on for a lot of things other counties have staff to do. But he's got the business community very much behind him and willing to play a role," Mr. Carney said.

The new director will be aided in his marketing efforts by the county's average household income, which is the highest in the state and sixth-highest in the nation, and by the high educational level of its residents.

The county's location in the middle of the Baltimore-Washington area and its proximity to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and interstates 70 and 95 also should help Mr. Story.

The county has been attractive to companies in biotechnology and health-related sciences, as well as light manufacturing industries. It also has boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state this year.

Mr. Story will be leaving Atlantic Builders Group Inc., a Baltimore County-based general construction contractor where his responsibilities include targeting and soliciting new clients.

Before joining the construction company in 1991, Mr. Story was executive director of Baltimore County's Economic Development Commission for two years.

From 1983 to 1989, he was vice president of an economic development council for the Greater Baltimore Committee, an organization that promotes economic growth in the Baltimore region.

During Mr. Story's tenure, the council became Maryland Economic Growth Associates, a statewide economic development lobbying group that is now separate from the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Mr. Story was director of the Carroll County Economic Development Commission from 1979 to 1983 and worked for a Carroll County radio station for almost a decade before that.

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