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After more than a decade of involvement in Howard County political and business life, Michael P. Hickey, owner of Hickey & Associates, isleaving to take a job with a multinational corporation in Minneapolis.

"It was very, very difficult for me to leave Howard County and very, very difficult for me to leave my current company," said Hickey.

Hickey, 41, will begin June 10 as general manager of the Grand Metropolitan U.S. Community and Business Development Center, a subsidiary of the London-based Grand Metropolitan PLC corporation. The corporation represents a worldwide collection of food, beverage and retail operations and owns American subsidiaries Pillsbury, Burger King, Haagen Daz and Alpo, among others.

The center is a new venture that "will provide service to the community and other businesses: training,retraining and a lot of support to people in the community," Hickey said.

He decided to accept the job, he said, because it offers "anexcellent opportunity" and challenges within a major corporation.

Hickey & Associates, a human relations firm that currently employs five people, will be phased out by the end of this month, he said. Hickey, his wife, Doris, and sons Jason, 11, and David, 7, will move to the Twin Cities area.

Hickey started his Howard County career as director of the county's Employment and Training Center from 1980 to 1985. He became director of General Electric's Re-employment Center in1985 and president of Hickey and Associates in 1986.

He served onthe Owen Brown Village Association Board from 1979 to 1982 and the Columbia Council from 1983 to 1986, and ran unsuccessfully for the District 3 County Council seat against C. Vernon Gray in 1986. He is nowchairman of the county Personnel Board, which he has served on since1986.

The center Hickey will manage, which will be expanded to other

cities in two or three years, is "oriented toward the future of the country in terms of developing young people; in terms of developing a future work force."

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