Gary S. Murray Sr., founder and managing member of HumanVision LLC of Landover, a venture capital firm, has been named volunteer of the year by the Maryland Economic Development Association, an organization of business professionals.

Murray is chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Commission, a volunteer group that develops economic policy and oversees efforts by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to attract and retain jobs.

"I kind of feel like the volunteer fireman who is acknowledged by the regular firefighters," Murray said. The members of the development association "do this for a living. I do this as part of my public service to give back to the community."

The commission under Murray's leadership has held meetings around the state to assess the concerns of business owners. He heard complaints about the state's regulatory environment and concerns about the work ethic of the workforce. His group is writing proposals for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) about how to deal with the issues.

"We sat and listened to business people about how we can make the state more business-friendly," Murray said.

The award recognizes that the development commission has become "very activist," he added.

Murray has been a figure in the Prince George's business community for more than a decade. He has invested in large real estate deals in the county, built two $100 million technology-related businesses, formed a venture capital firm and led the county's Economic Development Corporation.

He plans to remain the development commission's chairman until his three-year term ends next year, but he recently stepped down as a member of the Prince George's Business Roundtable, which he helped start. The roundtable is a nonprofit group that works to encourage business and investment opportunities.

"It is like your home," Murray said. "You can start to accumulate, and once in a while you say, 'I don't need all of this,' and you have to put some things down. My real estate practice and businesses and companies I'm involved with need my care and feeding, too. I'm trying to take care of home."

U-Md. Students Meet Buffett

About 50 University of Maryland students had lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett last month in the penthouse of his Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in Omaha.

During a private question-and-answer session, Buffett talked about China's growth and how to handle stress, among other things. He told students that taking a job for money is like marrying for money -- which is especially dumb if you are already rich, recalled Shai Dardashti, a senior finance major who organized the trip.

Dardashti had dreamed of meeting Buffett since his early teens.

"I have been reading about Warren Buffett since I was 13, writing letters to Berkshire offices since I was 17, and planning the trip for over a year and a half," he said in an e-mail interview.

He said he admires Buffett's business savvy and believes Buffett will one day be regarded as the John D. Rockefeller of his time. He is spending the summer re-reading Buffett's works, and after he graduates he plans to use lessons he has learned from meeting Buffett and studying his investment strategies to build a career in money management and asset allocation.