Gov. Hughes announced yesterday that he is naming Thomas H. Maddux to be his new secretary of economic and community development.

Maddux is a former vice president of Black & Decker Manufacturing Co. and chief executive officer of EASCO Corp. Both are Maryland-based tool manufacturing companies.

He is currently an independent business consultant for several companies.

Maddux, whose appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate, said he hopes to be on the job by the beginning of February.

He would succeed Frank DeFrancis, who resigned after buying an interest in Laurel Race Course.

Maddux said he thinks Maryland has improved its business image in recent years, but he said there is also more that can be done to spread the word that Maryland is a good place to do business.

Maddux will continue to serve as adviser to several firms, including B. Green & Co., Preston Trucking Co., Tate-Temco Incorp., Schenuit Investments and Ward Machinery Co.

Hughes said announcement of the Maddux appointment was delayed while the Ethics Commission was asked whether it would be improper for him to maintain his business ties while heading the department.

Hughes said the commission saw no problem, since the department is not a regulatory agency and does not exert direct control over industry.

The governor said he and Maddux have an agreement that, if anything comes up that gives even the appearance of impropriety, Maddux will step aside.

Maddux said he is not actively involved in running any of the firms but serves only in the capacity of consultant.