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New GBC Chair Rogers wants to nurture local firms

Saying he hopes to sharpen the city and region’s competitiveness, Brian C. Rogers, chairman and CIO of T. Rowe Price Group Inc., was named on Monday as the new chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Rogers took over at the annual meeting of the GBC, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel before a crowd of about 600 that included many executives from the city and state.

John Frisch, left, a member of the Greater Baltimore Committee's Board of Directors and lawyer at Miles & Stockbridge, shakes hands with Brian C. Rogers, chairman and CIO of T. Rowe Price and incoming GBC Chairman, Tuesday night at the GBC's Annual Meeting. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

“Our best opportunities for improving competitiveness are to support local businesses and nurture new ones,” Rogers told the crowd. “In short, we have to do it ourselves.

“As someone involved in the Northrop Grumman relocation conversations, it is hard to attract large firms to our state. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is highly unlikely that Merck or IBM are moving to Maryland. Companies like Under Armour, Medifast and Curiosityville have grown up here because their founders started here. While economic development conversations often revolve around landing the big fish, we will be more successful growing our own.”

In April 2010, Northrop Grumman chose to relocate its corporate headquarters to Northern Virginia after a heated competition between Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Rogers said a plan unveiled by the GBC last year to build a new arena, expand the Convention Center to include a new hotel complex and upgrade a portion of the Inner Harbor will be further developed under his watch.

State lawmakers recently approved $2.5 million for planning the $900 million development, to be funded with public and private resources.

Rogers, a 30-year veteran at T. Rowe Price who lives in Towson, has been a member of the GBC board since 2007 and on its executive committee since 2009. His term as chairman will be for two years.

Rogers said he hopes to steer the nonprofit GBC toward better workforce development initiatives, stronger political alliances, streamlined regulatory policies and establishment of a fair and competitive tax structure as part of the “core pillars” recently outlined in a new GBC report.

“I pose the following question: If Maryland is No. 1 in terms of median household income and ranks highly in household net worth and we have relatively high tax rates, how can there not be enough revenue to fund the needs of the state?” he said. “You would be hard-pressed to move here from out of state because you found our tax structure appealing. We cannot tax our way to prosperity.”

Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the GBC, said Rogers brings years of experience and knowledge of Baltimore’s business community to the chairman’s post.

“Brian, because of his background, his education and his work experience and his knowledge of companies and where companies are located throughout the country, certainly has a unique perspective on what makes a difference for businesses to have as part of their environment to grow and expand,” Fry said, noting that with economic recovery still fragile, stronger bonds have to be formed between elected officials and business leaders for growth.

“A lot of the work that the GBC is focusing on now includes the importance of our state and local elected officials understanding about the importance of having a competitive business environment and what’s critically important for economic growth and job creation,” Fry said.

Fry said the GBC is also aiming to work closer with its Washington counterpart, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, to help promote greater business opportunities in the future.

“We recognize that each and every day, the Baltimore and Washington market grows closer together and there’s a lot that we have in common from an economic growth perspective,” he said. “We’re going to try to expand our collaboration with the Greater Washington Board of Trade.”

Rogers replaces Charles O. Monk II, managing partner at Saul Ewing LLP, who has served as chairman of the GBC for the past three years.