Baltimore's united front Marketing: Local political boundariesmatter little to prospective businesses.

March 04, 1998

DEBATES OVER which jurisdiction is the job-growth leader in Maryland are like arguing over which is the more important of the two chemicals in water. The successes in attracting businesses to Howard County or Montgomery County or Baltimore County have more to do with the overall benefits of living and working in the Baltimore-Washington region than with any jurisdiction's individual efforts.

Cooperation is the essence of the Greater Baltimore Alliance, an organization that area business and government leaders created three years ago to market the region as one entity.

At a panel discussion in Columbia last week, Ioanna T. Morfessis, the organization's chief executive, pointed out that companies that want to relocate are oblivious to local boundaries. "Our fates and our successes are inextricably linked," she said.

Executives from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Bell Atlantic Corp., Comcast Communications Inc. and Arbitron Co. agreed that regional cooperation holds the key to the area's economic development and, in turn, the growth of individual companies. Jaye Gamble, a Comcast vice president, presented an outline labeled "Why Regionalism Is Important to Comcast," with arrows showing a chain reaction. It starts with a skilled work force, low costs and a high standard of living. Next comes commercial growth, then a new employee base, residential growth and more customers.

The tax cut passed last year should boost Maryland's image as a place to do business, but concerns linger that the region isn't perceived as business-friendly. Selling the area's strengths will help counter some of that -- its culture, location, airport and concentration of "intellectual capital," said Sherry F. Bellamy, Bell Atlantic president and chief executive, referring to the concentration of science and technology workers. The region needs continued cooperation in selling itself to the rest of the world.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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