Anne Arundel County will get a new lead economic development officer in the wake of financial losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) announced Wednesday.
Ben Birge, the county’s chief administrative officer, will take the reins as president and CEO of the county’s Economic Development Corporation. He’ll be filling the position that Jerry Walker, a former Republican county councilman, vacated earlier this year.
Birge led the charge in developing Anne Arundel County’s ArundelStat program and its Open Arundel program, Pittman said in a news release, both of which aim to increase transparency and government efficiency in the county.
“As President/CEO of Economic Development, Ben will do for our economy what he’s done for our government. He will Build Back Better from this pandemic, not just to drive growth in our tax base, but to improve the lives of our residents.”
The announcement comes as Anne Arundel County looks to recover from the economic hit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses of all kinds had to shutter in the midst of Maryland’s lockdown earlier this year, and have only recently begun to reopen.
Birge, a public policy expert, previously led Prince George’s County’s CountyStat program, which analyzes data to make government sources more effective and cost-efficient. Matt Power, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for land use, will replace Birge as chief administrative officer.
It wasn’t the only county staff shakeup that Pittman announced: Chief of Staff Jennifer Purcell is stepping down to implement “priority projects” for Pittman on health and education, according to the release. She’ll be replaced by Kai Boggess-de Bruin, the deputy Chief Administrative Officer for health and human services.
The staff will be working in their new roles immediately, according to Pittman, but they won’t officially assume their new positions until the new fiscal year begins on July 1.