Rehrmann hired to study city's empowerment zones

Ex-gubernatorial hopeful paid $7,500 as consultant

April 10, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Former gubernatorial candidate Eileen M. Rehrmann was recently hired by the Baltimore empowerment zones as a $7,500 consultant to study business strategy.

Empowerment zone officials confirmed yesterday that Rehrmann was hired on a 15-day contract last month to report on how businesses in the zones have been faring.

In 1994, President Clinton designated empowerment zones in Baltimore and five other cities and pledged $100 million over 10 years to help turn poor neighborhoods around.

Last summer, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke stood on the steps of City Hall supporting Rehrmann's challenge to Gov. Parris N. Glendening in the September Democratic primary. Schmoke's political manager, Larry Gibson, handled her campaign.

Rehrmann dropped out of the race in August after she was unable to raise the money needed to continue and finished the last of her two terms as Harford County executive. Rehrmann also served eight years as a delegate in the Maryland legislature.

Rehrmann was hired in mid-March by Diane Bell, president of Empower Baltimore Management Corp., which oversees the empowerment zones, after expressing interest in the agency, spokesman Michael W. Preston said yesterday. Rehrmann had attended several empowerment zone events, Preston said.

As president and chief executive officer, Bell can extend contracts. She hired Rehrmann to conduct a survey on strategic alliances for businesses in the city's six empowerment zones. The agency did not solicit bids or advertise for the contract, Preston said.

"Over time, we have a lot of people who contact our organization about doing work," Preston said.

Rehrmann said her interest in the agency grew from her economic development experience as a politician. Part of her goal was to study whether the agency is maximizing access to government institutions to help businesses in the zones, she said.

"What happens in the city impacts the entire region," said Rehrmann, who has been a consultant on state legislation since leaving her Harford post.

Rehrmann completed her work Tuesday and submitted a report. William Rice Jr., director of the Business Empowerment Center, said board members are reviewing the report but seem satisfied with Rehrmann's work.

Pub Date: 4/10/99

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