Burch nominated to be GBC chairman

Piper's co-chairman vows new approach

April 24, 2001|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Francis B. Burch Jr., the co-chairman of Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe LLC, has been tapped as the new chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the group announced yesterday.

The GBC is an influential organization of business and civic leaders with a mission to improve the business climate of the region.

The GBC board of directors' nomination of Burch, who presides over the state's largest law firm, is expected to be ratified at an annual meeting of the organization's membership May 10 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

In his new role, Burch said he will lead the GBC on a long-term path of attracting businesses and residents back to the city.

"We're going to do things a little differently by turning the focus on the issue of the erosion of the tax base, the exodus of the middle-income population from the city and the related issue of aging infrastructure," Burch said of the initiatives he'll pursue in his two-year term. "We want to be an advocate for the strategic investment of public resources.

"There are terrific opportunities staring us in the face with the west-side initiative, including GBC's idea to renovate the Hippodrome and, on the east side, the concept of creating a private biotech research park next to Johns Hopkins Hospital," Burch said. "That could be a catalyst for redevelopment on the east side. This is an agenda for which the GBC leadership will remain committed to for the next four to six years."

Burch added that to attain these goals, the chairman and chief executive of Constellation Energy Group Inc., Christian H. Poindexter, has agreed to be his successor at GBC "so that we have some continuity of leadership."

Burch, the son of the late Maryland Attorney General Francis B. Burch Sr., joined Piper in 1974 after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law. He became a partner in 1981, a member of the policy and management committee in 1986 and chairman of its litigation department in 1991. He took over as chairman of Piper & Marbury in 1994 and became co-chairman of the firm after its merger with Chicago-based Rudnick & Wolfe in 1999.

Burch will succeed John Morton III, president of Bank of America's Mid-Atlantic banking region, who led GBC's efforts to make reducing homicides and violent crime a top community priority. During that time, the group started building a strong relationship with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Last year, the GBC also worked with the Presidents' Roundtable, a group of leading minority chief executives, to conduct a management and efficiency study of five city agencies. O'Malley used more than 200 recommendations from that study to streamline various departments, including a move to close six city fire companies and add four emergency medical services (EMS) units.

In addition to Burch, other nominated GBC officers for 2001-2002 are: Anthony W. Deering, chairman and CEO of the Rouse Co., vice chairman; Poindexter, who is also president of Constellation, vice chairman; and Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the Abell Foundation, secretary-treasurer.

The GBC has 600 member businesses from Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

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