Ben Wu, the former president and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp., recently announced he has returned to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office to serve as a special adviser on economic development.
Wu, who resigned Aug. 15 after heading MCEDC since December 2019, wrote in a notice to his former Montgomery County colleagues that his new role in Annapolis would be to “support Maryland’s technology-based innovation economy, international trade and investment, and economic activities related to the upcoming gubernatorial transition.”
Washington Business Journal first reported the news about Wu’s new role, which he assumed earlier this month. He had previously served in the state Department of Commerce in 2015 as deputy secretary and chief operating officer, beginning in 2015.
Wu resigned from MCEDC on Aug. 15, after his contract was not renewed by the agency’s board of directors. Some officials in county government were not happy with Wu’s leadership and the county’s progress on economic development, according to a county government source.
But the former head of MCEDC said Monday that his departure from the agency was more amicable than some have previously suggested, noting that several MCEDC board members have also departed in recent months. It was a good time to transition as new partners arrived, Wu said.
“At the end of June, six new MCEDC board members were appointed with six of the original MCEDC board members that I had served with for the past six years having completed their term, including the MCEDC board chair who I had worked very closely with during my tenure, and there would be at least six new members of the County Council being elected,” Wu wrote in a follow-up email.
In an interview Monday, Wu said he is focused on the life sciences, artificial intelligence, and quantum economics in his new role as Hogan’s tenure ends. He added that he wants to ensure a smooth transition as the next governor takes office in order to make sure that Maryland economic development continues to expand.
Montgomery County needs to be part of that expansion for the state to be successful coming out of the coronavirus pandemic and other economic challenges, he said.
“I’ve always told the governor that the county is almost a quarter of the state GDP, so any [economic] recovery for the state can’t happen without Montgomery County leading the way,” Wu said.
Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci wrote in an email that Wu’s first day was Aug. 22.
“We’re excited to have Ben back in the administration doing what he does best, and focusing on transformative economic development for the state and the region, particularly through innovation and technology,” Ricci wrote.
Bill Tompkins, executive vice president & chief operating officer of MCEDC, assumed the role of president and CEO when Wu resigned on Aug. 15.