Civic News
Economics / Municipal government

Incoming DBED secretary lays out early goals

Baltimore's economic thought leaders are chiming in on what his to-do list should be.

Keeping spice giant McCormick in Maryland is one of R. Michael Gill's priorities. (Photo by Flickr user Roadsidepictures, used under a Creative Commons license)

Now that we know R. Michael Gill will lead the Department of Business and Economic Development when Larry Hogan moves into Government House next week, Baltimore’s economic thought leaders are chiming in on what his to-do list should be, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
For his part, Gill, currently a venture capitalist and formerly of various mobile tech companies, wants to keep spice giant McCormick & Co. in Maryland, bring the FBI headquarters north to the state and improve relationships with the state’s businesses.

Gill will have a chance to put his stamp on Maryland’s business map with work behind the scenes at DBED. But some of his most important efforts might not be obvious. They might also take time.
“You can’t expect him to come in one day and make changes overnight,” said Don Fry, CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee and a former state legislator. “He’s going to have to look at how the department operates, look at the various grant funds or loan funds that are available and find the best bang for the buck.”
Bang for the buck could be important in a state facing a budget deficit projected between $750 million and $800 million next year. DBED’s workhorse incentive program, the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund, already operates far below its original funding targets after years of underfunding and money sweeps to other activities. A recent DBED report said continued funding for the program will be important as the state vies for future economic development projects.

Aris Melissaratos, who led the department under Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, told the BBJ it’s also important that Gill surround himself with experts in specific fields like small business and technology.
Read the full story

Companies: Greater Baltimore Committee / DBED (Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development)

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