Going independent Baltimore Alliance: Three-year-old private-public regional group hires first president.

March 08, 1997

AFTER THREE YEARS of existing under the aegis of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Greater Baltimore Alliance is going independent. And it has hired its first president, Ioanna Morfessis.

In the seven years Ms. Morfessis led the Greater Phoenix Economic Council in Arizona, the group assisted 139 firms in establishing operations in the area. The effort created 64,500 jobs and helped the area restart an economic boom that had gone bust. Prior to that, she was Montgomery County's economic development director.

When she starts here in May, Ms. Morfessis, 45, faces a daunting challenge.

The Baltimore region has lost thousands of jobs during this decade as such key local economic engines as the defense industry and the banking sector have been hit especially hard by downsizing or mergers. Meanwhile, many local manufacturing jobs have disappeared.

But thanks to $7.5 million raised by corporations and institutes belonging to the Greater Baltimore Alliance, Ms. Morfessis will have sufficient resources to get her diversification efforts going.

The strength of the Greater Baltimore Alliance is its comprehensive nature. The alliance is not exclusively a business organization like the Greater Baltimore Committee. Instead, it includes many of the region's leading corporations and non-profit institutions as well as the top officials of the governments of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

"Cooperation is one of the hardest things to do in a community," Ms. Morfessis told an alliance breakfast. Yet successful cooperation is absolutely essential.

Or as the state's economic development secretary, James T. Brady, said: "In Maryland, we need to pull together in a far more cooperative effort if we are going to be what we want to be. This cannot fail or we are in deep trouble."

Pub Date: 3/08/97

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