Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger has dropped plans to privatize local economic development programs.
Ruppersberger concluded that privatization would cost too much and that it might conflict with local chambers of commerce and regional economic development programs. Anyway, he said, he was satisfied with the way the Department of Economic Development was working within the county government.
"Things are not broken. Why do you need to fix it?" said Ruppersberger's spokesman, Michael H. Davis.
While campaigning for county executive in 1994, Ruppersberger criticized the economic development program of his predecessor, Roger B. Hayden, and called for a private agency that could solicit donations from businesses.
Several Maryland counties, including Howard and Anne Arundel, have such private agencies.
But Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon said that after considering the options, the administration decided a private agency might unduly compete with other organizations, including the revamped Greater Baltimore Alliance.
Robert L. McKinney, president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, said a private economic development agency wouldn't necessarily threaten the chamber but that he saw no reason to tamper with success.
"Things are working very well," he said, noting the department's achievement in bringing a regional office of MBNA, a large credit card company, to Hunt Valley.
Hannon said he is instituting management practices from private industry, including an employee incentive program that started last week.
Under that program, the department's five business development representatives can earn bonuses of up to $1,000 a quarter for bringing new jobs and investment into the county. The department's support staff will share in the award system.
Hannon said the program is similar to bonus plans among retailers and in the real estate development industry, where he worked, but is new to government economic development programs. "We're doing something innovative and novel in county government," he said.
Hannon also has started weekly meetings to establish priorities.
From July 1995 to December 1996, the department helped with 72 transactions leading to the retention or creation of more than 7,000 jobs and more than $250 million in capital investment, he said.
The main disadvantage of keeping the agency in the county government, Hannon said, is that it is subject to political winds that can change each time a new executive is elected.
Pub Date: 7/08/97