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6 Economic Development Leaders & Their Big Ideas

6 Economic Development Leaders & Their Big Ideas

We gathered local economic development leaders--from the state, city, and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, and Howard counties--and asked, "What's the big idea?"

1) Dominick Murray--Maryland Sec. of Economic Development since December

Dom Head shot by jaybaker 110411

How to accelerate economic growth in Maryland:In his third month on the job, Sec. Murray tells us his big push is closing the gap between job ops and workers' skills. His department is investing--in partnership with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation--in workforce development and training. He's also continuing to support entrepreneurs and innovators with more incubators (their offices get cold, ya know), investments, and other assistance. The sectors where he'll concentrate: life sciences, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace. His agency is coordinating efforts to eliminate or streamline regulations, expediting review of major development projects, and allowing entrepreneurs to register businesses online (which cuts the state's response time from 10 weeks to less than one)

On the personal side:

We asked Mr. Secretary what he wishes he'd done more of in 2012 (his fifth year as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Business & Economic Development): spend more leisure time in rural Maryland, visited his sister in his home state of Michigan, and played more music (guitar). His personal goal for this year: "Embrace discernment and serenity." He tells us his favorite desktop item is a picture of his son Connor (19), who's "an inspiration to be the best" he can.

Where he was when the Ravens won:

"At home in my living room with very good friends and family."

2) Laura Neuman--Anne Arundel County Executive since last month

Mikulski and Neuman

How to accelerate economic growth In Anne Arundel County:

The previous Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO (above, with Sen. Barbara Mikulski) has simple ideas for her new county, home of Fort Meade: Modernize the computer systems and processes, streamline the permit process, and shorten the plan-review process. (Seems easy enough.)

On the personal side:

Do more sailing and yoga and eat more carrots--afitting aim for someone whose new office(she didn't have a computer yet when we spoke, making her iPhone her favorite desktop appliance) is in Annapolis.Her favorite Camden Yards foods are french fries and Pepsi, and at M&T Bank Stadium, they're nachos and Pepsi (we're sensing a theme).

Where she was when the Ravens won:

On her couch (texting about the game with that beloved iPhone) with her two kids, one of whom had the flu.

3) Larry Twele--Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO since yesterday


How to accelerate economic growth In Howard County:

The organization's board of directors just approved Larry's appointment to replace Laura (he'd been interim CEO since she headed for Anne Arundel). They launched the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and iCat (Innovation Cataylst), an incubator that has grown from 23 resident companies to 30 plus a waiting list and two affiliates (which use the services but don't have space there) to 25. Larry wants to expand the companies that take advantage of these programs, encourage corporate relocations to Howard County, and broaden its business base.

On the personal side:

His favorite office knickknack is a picture of his wife Christine and three kids (12, 14, and 16). "That's why we do this," he says. Oh, and Bisnow readers may find it useful to know that this sailor has a captain's license.

Where he was when the Ravens won:

The man who wears purple every Friday during football season was on the couch with his family.

4) Dan Gundersen--Baltimore County Department of Economic Development Executive Director since June 2011


How to accelerate economic growth in Baltimore County:

Dan tells us exports and manufacturing belong at the top of agenda, and the proverbial focus on improving the state's business climate should begin with an evergreen source of infrastructure funding. And he's thinking long-term with education, encouraging science, tech, engineering, and math in K through 12. What he wished he had done last year: Cut the ribbon on a new Fortune 100 HQ, re-engineer the workforce development system, and take a vacation. But his big goal this year is a long-range land-use plan for Sparrows Point.

On the personal side:

Dan's goal for this year should be at the top for every global and local leader: "Figure out how to transfer to my friends and family the look of love that my Golden Retriever shows me." In his office, you'll find brass bookends of Abe Lincoln, a gift from Dan's father that he says represents "the virtue of determination with humility." With humility comes honesty, hence his approach to stadium food: cutting back on it to pay for the beer.

Where he was when the Ravens won:

Like the others, Dan watched at home, "where I could put my face to the television screen and deliriously scream my fool head off."

5) Kirby Fowler--Downtown Partnership of Baltimore president since 2004


How to accelerate economic growth in Baltimore City:

Kirby has always been a plainspoken guy, hence his clear-cut ideas: tax credits for apartment conversions (his big goal is to convert obsolete office buildings to residential to keep up with Downtown housing demand), improvement of public spaces, and adoption of a variety of low-cost transit options. He's also got hindsight on his side when he tells us what he should have done last year: "bet heavily on the Ravens, developed a popular sitcom showcasing Baltimore in a positive light, and solved that whole sequestration thing."

On the personal side:

Talk about dedication to the city. Kirby's personal goal circles back to work: allowing himself the time to pursue outside interests. "Its easy to overlook the benefits of taking time for yourself, but I miss attending lectures and workshops and find that they help me see my work from different angles." The candy bowl on his desk is there strictly for the benefit of his colleagues, he says. "My staff battles a collective addiction to sugar, and its a good way to regulate their intake and catch up throughout the day." His favorite food at Camden Yards is Boog Powell's pit beef. At M&T, look for him and Dan together because Kirby's favorite food there is beer.

Where he was when the Ravens won:

"The dark side of the Superdome."

6) Tom Sadowski--Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore CEO since January 2006


How to accelerate economic growth in Greater Baltimore:

Tom wants to "sell to our strengths, highlighting activity, competitive advantages, and employment opportunities." He emphasizes the need to develop, retain, and attract talent to keep emerging industries like edtech, health IT, cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing chugging. And he wants to use higher-ed partnerships, angel or venture-capital investment, mentorships, and the like to propel entrepreneurs and growth companies. So he aims this year to launch a regional marketing campaign that "sheds Baltimore's pathologically modest label" and instead celebrates the metro as a world-class market with hometown charm.

On the personal side:

Outside the job, he tells us, his goal is to complete P-90x but he'll settle for being a better golfer (reach for the stars, Tom). He's expecting another baby (perhaps the fourth will finally be a girl). As for his teenagers, he wishes he'd made them attend the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore's annual meeting in November, where Dr. Freeman Hrabowski--president of Tom's alma mater, UMBC--was inspiring and said some nice things about Dad. Tom keeps a Baltimore Clippers puck in his office, which reminds him of when he was a kid and that "while life and business are contact sports, there needs to be that element of fun in everything we do."

Where he was when the Ravens won:

"At home with my best friend, my wife Melissa, listening to our almost two-year old son say, 'Go go Rice!'"