Balto. County names new economic development director

Gundersen, former Maryland asst. secretary for business development, would oversee growth efforts

May 10, 2011|By Raven L. Hill, The Baltimore Sun

A former state official with ties to Pennsylvania and New York has been tapped to serve as Baltimore County's next director of economic development.

Daniel C. Gundersen, a senior advisor for Philadelphia-based Econsult Corporation, was nominated Tuesday for the position by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Gundersen would replace David Iannucci, whom Kamenetz declined to reappoint in December.

Gundersen served as the state's assistant secretary for business development from 2000 to 2003. According to the county, he recruited 85 companies to relocate in or expand to Maryland, resulting in 15,000 jobs. As a consultant on the White House task force on disaster recovery related to the BP oil spill, he assessed short- and long-term economic growth strategies for communities along the Gulf Coast.

"His incredible track record of success up and down the East Coast is very exciting," Kamenetz said in a news release.

The county's overall economic development strategy includes attracting more business to the Northwest Hospital corridor and bringing a Walmart Supercenter to Liberty Road in Randallstown, creating an enterprise zone in Woodlawn to attract more federal agencies and promoting Hunt Valley as a high-tech corridor.

With Gundersen's appointment, the first-term county executive's cabinet is complete. Kamenetz described his approach to finding a new economic development director as intentionally deliberate, given the stakes.

"We were very deliberate in our search for an economic development director because we wanted to get it right. He respects and understands the very important role that the private sector plays in our economy," Kamenetz said in the release. "He also understands that … his challenge will be to attract and retain businesses at a time when the Baltimore County government must be innovative, responsible and efficient."

County Council Chairman John Olszewski Sr. called it a "big-time hire" in the release. The council is expected to vote on the appointment by the end of June.

Gundersen said he was impressed with the county executive's vision.

"What really grabbed my attention is that County Executive Kamenetz is consolidating workforce and economic development efforts," said Gundersen in the release. He will earn $185,000 in his new role. "This is a clear message to the business community that he understands how to leverage economic growth."

During his tenure in New York, the state rose to the top spot in attracting companies and jobs, creating 13,000 new jobs and holding on to another 30,000.

According to media reports, Gundersen left because former Gov. David Paterson did not seem as engaged as his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer.

In an interview with The New York Times, Gundersen said he made 12 requests for a meeting with Paterson in a 100-day span, but could not get onto his calendar.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a master's degree in government administration, Gundersen serves on the board of the International Economic Development Council.

"Dan is one of the most successful economic development professionals in the country today," said Jeff Finkle, the council's president, in a statement. "He's the go-to-guy, respected for being rich in talent, content and character."

Gundersen will serve as acting director effective June 1.

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