Selling image and strengths Greater Baltimore Alliance: Marketing plan aims to trumpet region's business advantages

October 02, 1997

WHAT COMES TO mind when you mention the Baltimore area to friends or business associates? A jumble of disconnected attributes perhaps -- everything from steamed crabs and the Orioles to Harborplace and "Homicide."

"We have a really positive tourism image but our business image does not match that," says Ionna Morfessis, who came here in March from Arizona to be president of the Greater Baltimore Alliance.

That regional economic development group has now launched an $11.5 million marketing push that will initially last for five years.

How will success be measured? According to an ambitious set of goals that includes the creation of 50,000 new primary jobs in the Baltimore region.

"Employment growth is the only indicator we should focus on," Ms. Morfessis said yesterday.

Adding that many jobs will not be easy. But previously untested strategies could help achieving that goal.

A promising innovation was mentioned yesterday by C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Baltimore County executive, and his Howard County counterpart, Charles I. Ecker. They see a predictable regional system for granting building permits not only as a possibility but a necessity if the Baltimore area hopes to attract new businesses or expand existing ones.

After operating under the aegis of the Greater Baltimore Committee for three years, the Greater Baltimore Alliance went independent six months ago. Unlike GBC, the alliance is not exclusively a business organization focused on policy but involves non-profit institutions as well as the top officials of a region that includes the city and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Harford and Carroll counties.

The Greater Baltimore Alliance's marketing plan ought to increase this region's visibility in a highly competitive field where some 8,000 rival economic development groups are vying for new business.

A major event on that promotion calendar will be the meeting of some 2,000 corporate and real estate decision-makers next May in Baltimore. That is an event tailor-made for the Greater Baltimore Alliance's new marketing push. Every effort should be made to turn it into a sales success.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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