BDC is taking a team approach Baltimore agency regroups to become more responsive

March 15, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Development Corp. yesterday announced a restructuring aimed at improving the city's long-troubled economic development agency's focus and its responsiveness to local business.

Chief among the changes being implemented by new BDC President M.J. "Jay" Brodie is the creation of seven teams including a downtown team that will oversee the agency's efforts on both a geographic and a functional basis.

"What we're trying to do is systemize things," Mr. Brodie said. "The city has not been competing very well, but there's no reason it can't."

The reorganization marks the latest in a series of changes that have taken place within the agency since last fall, when Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke named former Meridian Healthcare Inc. Chairman Roger C. Lipitz to chair and recruit a revamped BDC board. Mr. Brodie took the helm of the much-criticized agency in early January.

To help it compete, Mr. Brodie envisions hiring six new employees to head new departments or augment existing staff, a move that would raise the staff level to 38.

No layoffs are planned as part of the reorganization, but Mr. Brodie did not rule out the possibility of eventual staff changes or shifts.

Additionally, BDC Executive Vice President Michele L. Whelley will assume the title of chief operating officer, reporting to Mr. Brodie. A second executive vice president position, vacant since Robert Hannon became head of Baltimore County's economic development office late last year, will not be filled.

Mr. Brodie said he expects to be able to implement the changes without substantially increasing the agency's $2.5 million annual budget.

Under the new structure, BDC plans to create an information and marketing division that will respond to business inquiries within seven days, an attempt to correct a wide perception that the agency has failed to respond effectively in the past.

Each team, as well, will contain a BDC staff expert in life sciences, distribution, tourism and the Port of Baltimore.

"Our definition of success will not be just to do great stuff but to get to know people, make cold calls, know the assets and problems of a particular area," Mr. Brodie said.

BDC will also create departments to focus on attracting nonprofit entities to the city and to promote minority- and woman-owned businesses.

"Developing industry expertise isn't a bad idea, but to anoint someone is not good enough," said one former city economic development executive, who asked not to be named. "And I just don't know if they have a deep enough staff to diversify geographically."

In-house training of staff and ways to measure the success of the changes also will begin next week, Mr. Brodie said.

Mr. Brodie acknowledged that at least a portion of BDC's problems could be traced to a 1991 merger of the former `D Baltimore Economic Development Corp. and Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc., two city agencies with vastly different missions.

Since then, the city has lost at least 20,000 jobs in the areas of banking, insurance, manufacturing, retail and real estate.

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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