Regional management of services such as education, police and fire protection is the fastest way to streamline government and ensure economic prosperity in the Baltimore metropolitan area, Edwin Warfield IV told a group of Carroll County business people yesterday.
"Our region is pursuing a 'War of the Roses' strategy of economic development," said the owner of Warfield's Business Journal, referring to a recent black comedy movie about a couple's violent division of property during their divorce.
"Our counties are pitted against each other when they should be working together. Maryland has lost 2.4 percent of its employment in the past four months."
Mr. Warfield's speech, which was received with a mixture of silence and polite applause, was the keynote address during yesterday's Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Business to Business Expo.
The annual business fair, designed to foster business contacts between county industries, was co-sponsored by the Baltimore-area business magazine.
"Regionalism is to the 1990s what annexation was for Baltimore City in 1918," Mr. Warfield said.
He noted that the exodus from the city began in the 18th century, when Baltimore would annex property to make up for its shrinking tax base.
"I'm not suggesting that Baltimore annex Carroll County," Mr. Warfield said, laughing. "But this is an avenue to economic success and has marketing advantages. There are ways to work together."
Instead of duplicating police, fire, educational and other services in the city and the counties, municipalities should look at merging departments, he said.
"Rather than having two police departments with two chiefs, what about having two departments with one chief?" Mr. Warfield suggested. "Regionalism can hasten the streamlining of government without harming services."
Regional support of artistic and cultural activities in Baltimore would be a good place to start, because people from all of the area counties take advantage of them, he said.
Many, however, do not support organizations such as the Walters Art Gallery or the Maryland Science Center financially, he said.
"Our region is a rich cultural area," he said. "What if the only opportunities for our children were in shopping malls or vicarious adventures like watching 'Jurassic Park?'
"The arts are of value to all citizens. We should all help pay for it."
Working as a region, not as individual counties, to attract business would benefit everyone, Mr. Warfield said.
"This is not just for the political wonks," he said. "This will create jobs, be good for business and is a moral obligation."
Meanwhile, business people tended their stands at the exposition, offering incentives and door prizes to people who stopped to chat about their products.
Contestants for the Nassau vacation drawing had to get a card stamped by each exhibit with a palm tree.
Visitors to the McLean, Koehler, Sparks and Hammond accounting firm booth got chances to "Out Count the Bean Counters" by guessing how many jelly beans were in a jar.
"There's been a steady flow of traffic," said Helen Utz, the chamber's executive director. "There haven't been any big crowds, but we didn't expect any. We were just looking for business people."
By noon, hundreds of people had wandered through and talked to the 71 business people who had set up displays at Martin's Westminster, she said. The chamber, which will supply a list of all those who attended to the participating businesses, expects to have a final count today.
"Some of our businesses have had sales today," Ms. Utz said. "But, more importantly, they are making contacts for future sales."