CUMBERLAND - A former economic development director for Allegany County has been nominated to head the state's Department of Business and Economic Development.

Germantown resident David Edgerley was nominated Wednesday morning by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The news was warmly received by Edgerley's friends and former co-workers.

"I think the governor made a tremendous choice," said city of Frostburg Administrator John Kirby, who worked for Edgerley for 10 years in the county's economic development department, eventually succeeding him.

"David was an amazing deal-maker, very intelligent, a great speaker and writer, well-respected in the business community, a tireless, tireless worker. I couldn't keep up with him."

Frostburg Mayor Arthur Bond was a county commissioner when Edgerley was hired as a grant writer for the Human Resources Development Commission right out of college. He was then hired as a county grant writer before moving to economic development.

"I'm glad to see he's been so successful. Of course, I had no doubt in my mind he would be," Bond said.

Edgerley left Allegany County in 1995 to take an economic development position in Montgomery County, where he served for 12 years.

Allegany County Commissioner Dale Lewis said he was "tickled" by Edgerley's nomination. Lewis was first elected to county office in 1994, a year before Edgerley resigned.

"I hated to see him go, but he had a chance to better himself. It was (Montgomery County's) gain and our loss," he added.

Edgerley earned a bachelor of science degree from Frostburg State University in 1974 and a master's in business administration from Mount Saint Mary's in 1976. He's served his community in numerous ways over the years, including as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Cumberland Theatre.

"I look forward to working with Gov. O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Brown as we work to keep Maryland competitive in the global economy and expand biotech and life sciences in our state," Edgerley said in a press release distributed by the Governor's Office.

"In order to fulfill Gov. O'Malley's goal of One Maryland with a strong and growing middle class, we must make our state more business-friendly, while still protecting our working families."

Delegate Kevin Kelly has known the former county official since the mid-1970s when they attended FSU together. He emphasized that Edgerley is "an excellent choice" for the state position.

"It's good news that David, who has many connections in Allegany County and certainly appreciates the economic development problems which confront this community, is in the position of secretary of DBED," he said.

As an Allegany County employee, Edgerley felt the storm created by the loss of the Celanese and Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. He helped the county rebound, however, by attracting such companies as Superfos, Bayliner, Hunter Douglas, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Spherix, among others.

"He was one of the key leaders in the community being turned around," Kirby said.

Edgerley and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan were also instrumental in bringing biotechnology businesses to the Interstate 270 corridor, a concept DBED officials have been attempting to extend to Western Maryland for years.

Sen. George Edwards said he believes Edgerley can assist Allegany County if he's appointed by the Senate by encouraging new or expanding businesses to set up in Allegany County, in addition to businesses that need a product developed.

"It would be good for us because he's from our neck of the woods and understands our issues and what we're trying to do," Edwards said. "He knows things we're working on. He knows we have an excellent work force and a great quality of life."

If appointed, Edgerley will replace former Secretary Aris Melissaratos, who stepped down from the position Jan. 17 following O'Malley's inauguration. Clarence Bishop, former chief of staff for O'Malley as mayor of Baltimore, has been named interim secretary.

"We benefited from his presence and I can't help but feel the state will benefit from his abilities," Bond said. "I don't think we should say he would favor this county, but it's nice to have people aware of the resources we have here."

Tai Shadrick can be reached at tshadrick@times-news.com.

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