CHICAGO - Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. is opening a public finance and municipal sales and trading operation in Chicago, an official with the firm said this week.

Kevin Quinn, a managing director at the Baltimore-based firm, said plans are in the works to add sales staff, a trader, and investment bankers to the firm's new retail office in Chicago.

The firm hopes to hire one to three bankers with expertise in housing and health care, Quinn said. A trader who will deal in Midwest bonds and several institutional salespeople are also expected to be hired, he said.

The Chicago operation will be the first "inland" office for Alex. Brown, which has offices on the East and West Coasts, Quinn said.

"We had no geographical presence in the Midwest," he said. Thus, adding a physical presence there made sense, given the retail and institutional clients the firm services in the Midwest, he said.

The firm hopes to get the Chicago municipal operation up and running early next year, according to Quinn.

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