Governor says he means business

March 02, 1995|By Alec Matthew Klein | Alec Matthew Klein,Sun staff writer

Parris N. Glendening, the candidate, took his pro-business message to the community last fall. Parris N. Glendening, the governor, came back to Baltimore yesterday to reassure business leaders that he still means business.

But he didn't break any new ground -- for a reason.

"I believe if you have a message, you repeat it over and over . . VVTC until there's a general understanding in the broader public," Mr. Glendening said after a speech at the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore's monthly "Business over Breakfast" forum at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore hotel.

"Crucial to our future is an emphasis on better schools . . . safe streets . . . and the business of job development," he said in his low-key professorial way. "They all come together. You can't do one without the other."

Assuming the bully pulpit, the new governor was received with polite applause from a crowd of about 400 business leaders over a ballroom breakfast of quiche, bagels and fruit.

"I believe that the health of Baltimore is critical to the health of the entire state of Maryland," the governor said, underscoring his commitment to help revitalize the city. "We're losing jobs here, and we can't be successful . . . unless we retain young families who live and work in Baltimore."

The governor apparently connected.

"Supporting tourism and supporting business is vital to the economy of Baltimore, and we're delighted that he's showing the support to date," said Kathleen Ratcliffe, director of convention marketing for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. "It's important to get that message across."

Mr. Glendening demonstrated his aggressive business approach by pointing to his early success with McCormick & Co. His personal intervention -- and $20 million in incentives -- helped persuade the Sparks-based Fortune 500 spice company to choose Maryland over Pennsylvania for a 150-employee distribution center.

"Our real competition is not among individual jurisdictions in Maryland," he said. "Our real competition is the region and, to some extent, states throughout the country."

Mr. Glendening said he has tried to "put a stop" to Virginia Gov. George F. Allen's attempt to lure business away from Montgomery County. Mr. Glendening confirmed a recent Washington Post story, which reported that two Silver Spring firms -- Orkand Corp. and AT&T Federal Systems -- are considering relocating.

With finality, the governor told his audience: "We are going to retain the businesses we have."

To achieve that end, he outlined a philosophy that calls for private-sector expansion, a reduction in social programs that promote dependency, and increased investments in education, jobs and business development.

"In Maryland, we have a lot going for us," he said, urging an end to the "doom and gloom" pall cast over the state's business climate. Mr. Glendening plans to simplify regulations, restructure the 1,400-employee Department of Economic and Employment Development and rely on a newly created economic development commission, dominated by business executives.

Also in the works: a $25 million economic development "sunny day" fund to retain and attract businesses; a $7 million revitalization fund to help small businesses in urban and suburban settings; and tax relief on high-tech research and development equipment, snack food and auto leasing.

"We have one major goal, and I know we will succeed by the turn of the century," he said.

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