Charles County's commissioners this week announced their pick to lead the new Economic Development Department, a position they consider crucial to the county's future.

John J. Reardon, a Colorado-based consultant who has worked for governors in Wyoming and Nevada, was introduced to business leaders Tuesday at the county's annual Economic Development Summit.

Reardon, 59, told the audience that he takes a "holistic approach" to economic development, relying on schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses and home builders to create a balanced economy.

Charles County leaders want to attract higher-paying jobs to reduce the number of residents who leave the county each day for work. Reardon's philosophy for Charles, he said, is "not just about who we're going to get. It's who is already here."

A native of Upstate New York, Reardon has worked in economic development in a variety of areas, including Denver, where he was president of the Southeast Denver Economic Development Commission, and Atlanta, where he was director of global strategies for the International Development Research Council.

Before starting his Fort Collins consulting firm, Reardon Associates, he was director of Colorado State University's executive MBA program.

Reardon said that what attracted him to Charles were the similarities to a once-rural county south of Denver where he worked a decade ago, when it was wrestling with how to preserve open space as it grew along with the surrounding metropolitan area.

Reardon, who will be paid $130,000, officially takes over the department in December.

Lip Balm With a Twist

Even before announcing the first director for the new Economic Development Department, Charles County had been trying new ways to market itself to the rest of the region and the nation.

There's "The Wild Side of the Potomac," as seen in the official visitors guide. The county has sent a promotional video to companies that refers to Charles as "The Best of Both Worlds." Among the exhibits at Tuesday's Economic Development Summit were brochures selling luxury skyboxes for the planned minor league baseball park.

But the smallest marketing tool came in a little green tube: Charles County chapstick.

The aloe vera lip balm with SPF 15 lists the tourism office's Web site and phone number and says of the county, "the only thing we overlook is the Potomac!"

Turns out there are also Charles County sunglass holders, sunscreen and even emery boards. These are all the creation of tourism director Joanne Roland, who orders inexpensive freebies to pass out at the county's bass fishing tournaments and the conventions its leaders attend.

"It's a gift from the host city, so they remember you," she said.

The balm has apparently been a hit.

"It's not too greasy," Roland said. "Everyone who has used it has asked where I got it."

Firm Makes Inc. List

A St. Mary's County defense contractor that makes communication systems was selected by Inc. Magazine as one of this year's 500 fastest-growing private companies in the nation.

Innovative Solutions Consulting Inc. (ISC), based in Hollywood, posted 592 percent revenue growth over the three years ending Dec. 31, 2004, enough to rank 182nd on the list, according to an announcement from ISC this week.

The company, which designs and manufactures communications systems for mobile command and emergency operations centers, among other uses, was founded in 1999 by Mike Aloisio after he left his position as a civilian engineer at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. With 55 employees, ISC last year had $8.2 million in revenue and scored a five-year, $30 million contract to provide services to the Electronic Systems Center at the Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. Aloisio said the company plans to expand operations to South Carolina and California.

"Basically it was just a one-man show for the first year. In July of 2000, I hired the first employee," he said. "We've been rolling ever since."

Aloisio said his company has benefited from demand for homeland security needs after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We were lucky to be in the right industry at the right time," Aloisio said. "Communications was a good business to be in after 9/11."

Clydesdales Are Coming

Those shaggy, stocky horses made famous in Budweiser commercials will be on display in Leonardtown next month during the Veterans Day parade as part of Anheuser-Busch's Here's to the Heroes Tour 2005.

Eight Clydesdales, along with animals from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, and a mobile television studio will join the crowd this year in the St. Mary's County seat because Julie Trask of Lexington Park won a sweepstakes to have the horses come to her home town, Anheuser-Busch announced this week.

The Clydesdales will be stationed at the St. Mary's County Fairgrounds from Nov. 10 to 12. The studio is intended for people to record 10- to 30-second greetings that will be broadcast on American Forces Radio and Television Service to U.S. troops in more than 175 countries, according to the announcement.