Annapolis businessman Steven W. Oxman used to bump into other local business people in the strangest places, usually on airplanes miles away from Anne Arundel County.
As the president of a small, high-tech computer firm, Oxman would often overhear an executive of a large company talking about traveling thousands of miles for some service that Oxman or another high-tech firm could have offered much closer tohome.
Oxman, of OXKO Corp. on Admiral Cochrane Drive, found other small, high-tech firms in a similar situation, losing business because some of the larger companies didn't know they existed.
He hopes much of that will change after tomorrow night.
At Oxman's urging, County Executive Robert R. Neall invited 50 Annapolis-area high-tech companies, many of whom do business throughout the United States and the world, to a "get acquainted" meeting aimed at forming a network.
Those who could benefit most include small, high-tech firms and large companies needing those firms' services, Oxman said. His company develops computer programs of several types, including one that simulates the way people make decisions.
"It's important to try to keep jobsin your own community," Oxman said. "If this individual uses someonein California, it will cost more than using someone locally."
It will also mean more area people out of work, he said.
"With the economy and the number of companies doing layoffs, it would be nice to be able to put some of those people to work," he said.
Oxman estimated that there are hundreds of high-tech companies in the county, with at least 50 in Annapolis and another 50 near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Such companies employ about 2,000 workers countywide, Oxman said. Many of them specialize in electronics, computer software, hardware or a combination of the three.
Oxman approached Neall last year with his idea of trying to form a high-tech network.
"I don't want money. I don't want loans," he told the county executive. "There are a lot of good business people in my boat who arestable financially but just need a little more visibility. We have to meet people face to face."
Neall offered the assistance of the county Department of Economic Development, which organized tomorrow's first meeting.
The county executive has invited such companies as United Nuclear Corp., General Dynamics, ARINC, Westinghouse and the National Security Agency to an informal gathering. The meeting is set for 5 p.m. tomorrow at OXKO, in the north lobby of the Annapolis Science Center, 175 Admiral Cochrane Drive.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for area businesses to exchange information and build market awareness," Neall said.
"My proposal, at the very least, is to establish an organization that has meetings quarterly, hosted at different companies' facilities," Oxman said. "I'm looking for this to be a countywide thing."