How much new business will 100 pounds of crabmeat and four gallons of oysters attract?

Probably not very much, but Maryland economic development officials hope they will help make a lasting impression as part of today's promotional extravaganza in Chicago, including a keynote address by baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.

Accompanied by 25 Maryland business leaders, Gov. Harry Hughes and other state officials will host a luncheon for 250 executives whose firms are based in the Chicago area. The aim of the mission is to tout the advantages of doing business in Maryland.

Billed as "Chicago Meets Maryland," the economic development road show is also designed to emphasize what state officials describe as "the close working relationship between government and business in Maryland."

That brings us to the 25 corporate executives from leading Maryland companies who are in Chicago today to endorse the state's pro-business campaign and to help repair its battered pro-business image.

Seafood makes a great lunch, and remarks by a former baseball superstar preceding a dazzling computer-controlled, 12-projector slide show have their entertainment value.

But those Chicago executives speak the same language as their host counterparts repesenting Maryland firms such as Black & Decker Co., Londontown Corp., Kelly Springfield, HRB Singer Inc. and C&P Telephone Co. And those same executives will be interested in hearing what their hosts have to say about the business climate in Maryland.

After all, some Maryland executives have been mouthing some potentially damaging remarks about the state recently, adding to a negative image held by some outsiders.

It's obvious, therefore, why Maryland officials are anxious for leaders from the state's private sector to help them set the record straight.

Conspicuously absent from the delegation to Chicago is Fairchild Industries Inc., a major aerospace and communications corporation with a substantial presence in Maryland.

Although state officials say an invitation was extended to Fairchild, a company spokesman says he has no knowledge of one being sent.

Mail delivery is slow nowadays, but the Postal Service can hardly be blamed for this little snafu. And it couldn't have come at a worse time for both the state and Fairchild.

To have had Fairchild Chairman Edward G. Uhl or some other high-ranking company official accompany Hughes on the trip to Chicago would have been a masterful stroke in public relations for the state and Fairchild.

This was an opportunity to prove, as Maryland and Fairchild officials emphasized last week, that the company's decision to move its headquarters to Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia will have no effect on a longstanding partnership.

Fairchild was convicted April 27 on five counts of hazardous waste disposal and water pollution violations at its Hagerstown plant and fined $100,000. But the company insists that the legal proceedings had nothing to do with its decision to move its corporate offices out of the state.

In fact, Maryland officials have come to accept the planned move as a business decision made necessary by Fairchild's current and projected office requirements.

And Hughes is known to have said that Uhl explained to him "in almost meticulous detail" why Dulles is a more convenient location than Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Despite differences between the state and company in the past, statements emanating from Annapolis and Germantown strongly imply that Maryland and Fairchild bear no grudges.

Indeed, Uhl is said to have been "very civilized about the whole thing" when talking to the governor about the decision to move Fairchild's headquarters to Dulles.

The picture that state officials painted of the Fairchild chairman last week bore no resemblance to the same Uhl who blasted Maryland for its "adversarial approach" to business earlier this year.

Fairchild will maintain a major business presence in Maryland, where it has operated since 1929. While relocation of its headquarters will affect about 120 employes, Fairchild will add to its work force of 1,300 in Maryland as part of an expansion announced recently.

No paid-advertising campaign could have been as effective as a Fairchild official explaining to Chicago business leaders today why his company, despite past differences with Maryland officials, plans to expand in the state.

Somebody missed an opportunity to score a public relations point.