Basu leaving Towson's RESI

Economist to help run firm that he, partner launched

January 24, 2003|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

For the second time in four years, a prominent economist is departing Towson University's economics research arm, RESI Research & Consulting.

Anirban Basu, the director of applied economics and senior economist, will leave the organization next month to be chairman, chief executive and chief economist of an independent economics research and consulting firm in East Baltimore.

Basu and an economist who recently left the Johns Hopkins University launched Optimal Solutions Group LLC about two months ago.

"There was this desire to be entrepreneurial and ... to build something new," said Basu, 34. "There is not a lot left for me to do at RESI."

Mark R. Jacobson, RESI's managing director, said he wasn't surprised by the decision because Basu had talked about starting his own firm.

"He is in his 30s and he got to the point where he wanted to get it going," Jacobson said. "I am surprised I was able to keep Anirban there as long as I did."

Jacobson said Basu, who makes about $100,000 a year, will continue to work for RESI as a paid subcontractor. The details have not been completed.

Basu will also continue to lead RESI's annual economic outlook conference.

"Anirban was our face for economics," Jacobson said. "I honestly believe he was Maryland's face for economics, not just RESI's."

Jacobson said he expects Basu's replacement to be named within a week.

Basu is the second senior economist to leave RESI since 1998, when Michael A. Conte, the organization's founder, was fired.

Basu joined RESI's predecessor, the Regional Economics Studies Program at the University of Baltimore, in 1992 as a research economist. Four years later, RESI moved to Towson University. In 1997, Basu became senior economist, and two years later, he was named director of applied economics. Today, he oversees a group of 30 employees that specializes in forecasting and producing economic impact studies.

Basu said he had been thinking about starting his own firm for two years. He said he felt limited at RESI because it focuses largely on the mid-Atlantic's economy. He said he wants to take a much broader view of the economy and offer services to clients - law firms, developers and government agencies - throughout the country.

Basu said he and his partner, Mark Turner, are investing about $80,000 to start Optimal Solutions, which is at 6 N. Broadway.

Turner, a leading economist on labor market policies and child support enforcement, is Optimal's president and has been running the business for about two months.

"We would like to be large, we would like to be a significant player," Basu said. "I see no reason we shouldn't pursue business on a national scale."

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