Ships a symbol of city's hopes

June 23, 2000|By Mayo A. Shattuck III

THE 31 tall-masted ships from 14 nations that are visiting Baltimore's harbor for the OpSail celebration this week will be more than a majestic sight. These visitors from Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Chile and other nations are also a visual metaphor for the rising tide of globalization that is reshaping Baltimore and Maryland's economy.

Like it or not, our region and its work force are growing increasingly reliant on the global marketplace.

As chief executive of a firm whose roots in Baltimore reach back two centuries, and whose branches now reach worldwide, I am convinced globalization is a positive for our regional economy. The tall ships that will soon visit our harbor are a vivid reminder of our need to welcome the world -- and the world's corporations -- to Baltimore with open arms.

Understandably, some are fearful of the consequences of globalization, especially when an international company headquartered in Frankfurt, Tokyo, London or Amsterdam acquires a local business. Uncertainty is unsettling unless you believe, as we do at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, that change represents opportunity.

Our community should welcome the prospect of corporations from other parts of the world coming to Baltimore and Maryland, whether it is through acquisitions of local companies or through start-ups of new domestic operations.

While not all acquisitions are beneficial to the local community, the record demonstrates that foreign acquisition and investment in our community has netted far more positives than negatives.

Locally, skeptics expressed initial concern about foreign acquisition of First National Bank (now Allfirst) by Allied Irish Bank, of Monumental Insurance by Dutch giant Aegon, N.V., and of Alex. Brown by Germany's Deutsche Bank. Yet today, all are more potent economic engines for Baltimore than they were when first acquired.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, for example, has grown its work force in Baltimore by 300 employees since our acquisition by Deutsche Bank. Our global character and stature now serve as a powerful talent magnet for Baltimore, drawing scores of newcomers who are expanding the intellectual infrastructure of our local business community.

Our company's philanthropic commitment, always a community's major concern in an acquisition, has grown to $5.5 million in gifts to Baltimore philanthropies during this, our 200th anniversary year. Millions more are donated each year by our employees to United Way and other Baltimore charities.

The presence of global companies such as Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, Allfirst and Aegon is helping to create new emissaries for Baltimore in cities around the world. People who never would have reason to come to Baltimore previously are now drawn here regularly, and they return to their countries praising the city and people they have discovered.

Baltimore, a city that has long suffered from a second-city mentality, must learn to embrace, not fear, globalization. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are not threatened by the globalization of their local economies; nor should we be.

Atlanta became a global city in the past generation in large part by building a civic belief that the city was the world's next great metropolis. By believing, its ambition became reality. Here in Baltimore, we must recognize and we must believe that Baltimore can be an increasingly important global center.

Indeed, the signs of our growing global importance are many.

The recent announcements of expanded international air service at BWI Airport, and the exploration by other international air carriers of extending service to Baltimore, suggest that our global importance is gaining.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's recent trade mission to Germany solidified our significance in one of the world's leading economies as he met with more than a dozen business leaders interested in locating or expanding in Maryland, among them Rolf Breuer, head of Deutsche Bank.

OpSail is an appropriate celebration for Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown and for our community. The tall-masted ships remind us of our roots as one of the world's great ports, as an active trading center that connected a young nation to Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Alexander Brown, our founder, saw Baltimore as a global city when he emigrated here from Ireland. Shipping linen, cotton and tobacco, he connected Baltimore with the world.

Today, Baltimore is even more global, and the tools we use are technology and finance and the expertise to link them to create new ideas and jobs. As we enthusiastically welcome the tall ships to Baltimore, let's welcome the international business community as well.

Mayo A. Shattuck III is co-chairman and co-chief executive officer of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.

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