- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2001

The Greater Washington Board of Trade announced the appointment of its first new president in 32 years yesterday.
Robert Peck, a District resident who most recently served as public buildings service commissioner for the General Services Administration, was voted in unanimously as expected by the seven-person search committee yesterday. He will replace John Tydings, who is retiring after serving as president since 1969.
"It's a tough act to follow," Mr. Peck said at a press conference in the Board of Trade's District headquarters. "Everyone knows that John Tydings has done a tremendous job."
On Oct. 1, Mr. Peck will officially take control of the organization representing the interests of more than 1,600 businesses across the District, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. As part of his duties, he will oversee five political action committees.
Mr. Peck. was chief of staff for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat, from between 1984 and 1986, and worked on the campaign to elect Bill Clinton as president in 1992.
Specifics of Mr. Peck's contract were not disclosed in full, but board Chairman John Derrick said it was for "more than one year" and would be extended as the board sees fit.
Mr. Peck was vague when asked yesterday to state his goals for the board, particularly relating to issues like home rule and representation in Congress for the District.
But he said the District would have to remain a strong economic force in order for the entire region to flourish.
"Everyone recognizes that without a significant core city in the region, the region's ability to prosper and grow is limited," he said.
Mr. Peck said one of his biggest challenges will be tackling District issues like taxation, representation and home rule while keeping interests of the entire region in mind.
"There's a lot of issues in the region that have to be dealt with," he said, referring to everything from legislation involving taxes on electronic commerce, to improving transportation across the region and building the board's membership portfolio.
Reporters asked Mr. Peck for his response to a recent report from the Small Business Survival Committee that rated the District as the worst "state" for small businesses.
He said that the advancement in small businesses would help the District take advantage of its diversity.
"It's through small businesses that immigrants and people coming out of poverty have opportunities," he said.
Mr. Peck dismissed the notion that the city was overrun with bureaucrats, as the report suggested. But he said that a strong governmental presence in the region has lead to a mentality that puts process ahead of results.
"This is a region that's obsessed with process in a way that gets in the way of getting things done," Mr. Peck said.
He supports the relocation of a Major League Baseball team to the region, either to Northern Virginia or the District. He said, however, that the Board of Trade has little actual power to influence such a decision and would be reluctant to choose one part of the region over another.
Before working for the General Services Administration where he was responsible for a budget of about $5.5 billion, or 550 times that of the Board of Trade Mr. Peck was a deputy director for the Federal Communications Commission.
Mr. Peck announced yesterday that he would relinquish his post on the District of Columbia's Board of Education, to which he was appointed by Mayor Anthony A. Williams in January.

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