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Why the New BDC Hire Matters

November 20, 2012

Everyone should listen to the exchange between Baltimore Brew reporter Mark Reutter and Boston Business Journal real estate editor Thomas Grillo on Baltimore Development Corp.’s hiring of Brenda McKenzie. Grillo acknowledges McKenzie had a much smaller role at Boston Redevelopment Agency than she’ll have at BDC and describes her as being “on the lower echelon of the power over at [Boston Redevelopment Agency].” Grillo notes that BRA critics would laugh at the suggestion that the agency is transparent and downplays McKenzie’s role at the agency.

McKenzie’s hiring–and the selection process–is critically important and deserves extensive scrutiny; after all, her hiring is a statement about the direction the Rawlings-Blake administration intends to take economic development. Grillo’s observations of McKenzie, her role within BRA and the parallels between Boston and Baltimore can be incredibly instructive, and given what little we know of her, it appears city leadership is happy to continue with economic development as business as usual. None of this should be too surprising, unless you were expecting the city to hire an acolyte of new urbanism or the bureaucratic equivalent of Tony Hsieh.

And if you thought either scenario were possible, well, you don’t know Baltimore.


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