Practical regionalism GBC's new leader: Frank Bramble wants to refocus the Greater Baltimore Committee.

May 20, 1996

THE GREATER BALTIMORE Committee, at 41, is a boomer that has achieved great things but is going through a mid-life crisis. First Maryland Bankcorp. chief Frank P. Bramble, who took over the chairmanship of the 600-member business group last week, promises renewal of the business group by establishing benchmark goals. He wants a "new Broadway-style theater by the year 2000." He wants an end to "Baltimore bashing." He wants to practice regionalism.

"Some regions in this country recognize the value of business. They organize their infrastructure to support businesses and as a result they have experienced measurable improvements in the quality of life for their residents," Mr. Bramble told those at the GBC's annual meeting. "Unfortunately, in our region we don't understand the benefits of business very well. We need to do a better job of selling ourselves."

While Baltimore bashing is an indigenous sport in Montgomery County, the truth is that Baltimoreans are among the fiercest denigrators of their hometown. William Donald Schaefer, the mayor from 1971 to 1985, attacked this mind set with his upbeat slogan, "Baltimore's Best."

But under current Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, the mood is downbeat as the city's social and fiscal problems become more complicated. It is helpful that the metropolitan counties surrounding Baltimore are now headed by executives who show increased concern about the city's future. There is a new realization, crystallized by David Rusk's "Baltimore Unbound," that unless the city's decline is halted, its problems will spill over to the counties.

The significance of this change of thinking cannot be overstated. Until recently, many political leaders in the counties overtly or covertly fed fear about the city. No wonder there was scant constituency for regional solutions.

"Regionalism is key to our ability to leverage our marketplace," Mr. Bramble declared. GBC's advocacy of regionalism comes at a time when businesses can truly help local governments build a stronger, more prosperous metropolitan region.

Pub Date: 5/20/96

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