In search of business deals, Maryland delegations make annual trip to Las Vegas for retail convention

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and a bevy of other city officials will spend much of the week in Las Vegas to attend an annual retail convention where cities, states and companies go to cut deals.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for the Democratic mayor, said Baltimore has had success in bringing investment home after attending the event, known as the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon.

“He’s going obviously to lure retail to the city,” Davis said. “He’s going to let folks know that Baltimore city is a great investment and is open for business.”

Two senior staff members are also making the trip, along with Democratic City Council members Eric Costello, Sharon Green Middleton and Ed Reisinger, and an aide to Democratic Council President Brandon Scott.

The city’s spending board has approved $28,000 in hotel bills, airfares and registration fees connected with the trip.

Young is scheduled to return Thursday.

Davis said Young will attend meetings arranged by the city’s economic development agency and also look for opportunities to make connections on the ground in Las Vegas. Davis declined to name any of the companies Young expects to talk with, saying any potential business deals were sensitive.

The convention blends sessions on the nuts and bolts of running a retail business with parties and networking events.

In the past, hundreds of officials and business people from Maryland have made the trip to attend the convention.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, is attending the event with senior adviser Samantha O’Neil and the county’s economic development director, Will Anderson, county officials said. County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat, is also attending the conference. The county didn’t immediately have an estimate of how much the trip cost.

The Maryland state government has a team at the convention this year, headed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Other officials on the trip include Kelly Schulz, the state’s secretary of commerce; Signe Pringle, assistant commerce secretary for small business development, and Kyle McColgan, an assistant to Schulz.

A cost estimate for the state delegation’s trip was not available Monday.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood and Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.

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