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New chief Lipitz pledges to revitalize city economic development agency


Saying he will recruit the best and the brightest to revamp Baltimore's economic development agency, Roger C. Lipitz, the new board chairman, pledged yesterday to work closely with the corporate community to find ways to attract and create more jobs.

Mr. Lipitz, the prominent entrepreneur chosen to overhaul the beleaguered Baltimore Development Corp., also said a priority will be developing a strategic economic plan for the city.

"In terms of the business community, we've got some work to do there. But I can do it, and the people we're going to get will do it," Mr. Lipitz said at a news conference with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

The mayor, who announced Mr. Lipitz's appointment to chair a reconstituted BDC board yesterday, acknowledged that the agency has lacked an activist director since its inception in 1991.

For much of this year, BDC has been criticized by corporate leaders and the City Council for its lack of responsiveness and inability to retain key businesses. In April, Mr. Schmoke ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of the agency and reassigned its director, Honora M. Freeman.

A panel that studied the agency concluded it was "a reactive organization relying on crisis management" and recommended changes in August.

Mr. Lipitz, the former chairman of Meridian Healthcare Inc. and the University of Maryland Medical System also will conduct a search for a top professional to head BDC.

Among Mr. Lipitz' immediate goals are developing a true partnership between BDC and the business community, recruiting business leaders and others with development experience for the new board, and crafting a clear mission for the agency.

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