In my humble opinion, the President of the Howard County Economic Development Authority is one of the most important appointed positions of the county. Right up there with Superintendent of the HCPSS and President of Columbia Association.
So Laura Neuman's sudden departure leaves a void at that position. A void which should eventually be filled by a great person. After all, this should be a highly coveted position in the economic development field. HoCo has a lot of things going for it, and despite the current (coming?) economic turmoil, there's a lot of work that can be done for someone to leave their mark.
Problem is though, in attracting great candidates, is that this person's boss changes in November, 2014 when the new County Executive is elected. And there are at least three different flavors of leader that person could be?
Should a Guy Guzzone or (as a few have been speculating, Calvin Ball) be elected executive in 2014, I think one can expect the offices of the HCEDA to operate under more of the same philosophy as under Ken Ulman. Fairly generous county government support and intervention. With the election of a Courtney Watson, the working relationship may be a bit looser with county government. Thinking that the relationship may be a little less directed from the Executive's office.
Now, if a Republican (Allan Kittleman most likely) gets elected, could one expect a HCEDA- county government relationship where the HCEDA is basically on its own? What incentives will county government give to attract business? I would suppose that in a Kittleman Administration, the county government would want to give tax breaks and incentives a-plenty; however, those would still need to be approved by an almost certainly-Democratic County Council.
So, with all this uncertainly, are we still going to get the best of the best candidates nationwide for HCEDA chief? I suspect we will, but I will be curious to learn more about the search process.
Last, but not least, will County Executive Ulman punt on the whole thing, leave Larry Twele in the job on an interim basis, and leave the appointment to his successor? Such Falstaffian moves are not our County Executive's want, but we may yet be surprised.
There is drama to be had, true believers! Stay tuned!!!