Business for the city New leader: Baltimore Development Corporation needs a chief executive officer, fast.

November 07, 1995

NOW THAT Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has named the new members of the Baltimore Development Corporation board, it must push hard to find a president for that agency as soon as possible. The mayor and board chairman Roger C. Lipitz deserve commendation for quickly putting together a board that should build confidence within the city's business community. Past boards were dominated by city officials and bureaucrats; this one is not.

The private-sector board members include Bruce Alexander and Anthony Hawkins of the Rouse Co,; Elinor Bacon of Bacon & Co.; lawyer Richard Berndt; banker Frank Bramble; S.A. "Skip" Brown III of Belt's Corp.; Theo Rodgers of A&R Development Corp., and accountant Arnold Williams.

Baltimore has to make up for a lot of lost ground in the realm of economic development. It has not done as well as many cities in moving past the recession, particularly when it comes to job-creation and retention. No one factor is the reason for that, but the business community believes a major stumbling block has been the lack of decisive leadership at BDC. The transfer of past BDC president Honora M. Freeman to the mayor's staff has provided an opportunity to correct that situation.

The city needs to act fast. Each day without a BDC president delays the timetable for setting a new course that will make Baltimore a more credible competitor for expanding industries and a better partner to companies that need help if they are to remain in the city. Baltimore has lost 20,000 jobs since BDC was created in 1991. The new BDC president must be someone who can turn the tide. Finding that person should be the board's first priority and its decision must not be defined by politics.

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