Economic Development Committee

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Chair: Caroline G. Moore, Senior Vice President, Southeast Region Executive, Wexford Science + Technology

Staff: Brian Levine, 410-727-2820

Description: The purpose of the Economic Development Committee is to create a vibrant and diverse regional economy that increases the quality of life for workers and provides the necessary support for sustainable regional growth. The committee seeks to ensure that programs and policies are in place that improve business competitiveness in the Greater Baltimore region.

Membership: Membership in the Economic Development Committee is open to all GBC members.


2018 Economic Development Committee news:

The Economic Development Committee’s October 9, 2018 meeting featured Michael Higgs, Executive Director of the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT), who shared progress the department has made to improve its services. SDAT has three primary purposes: assessment of property; administration of tax credit programs; and process and maintain business charter filings. Higgs said SDAT has been focused on modernizing the department, improving customer service and helping to create a better climate for Maryland businesses.

Following Higgins’s presentation the committee heard from Brian White, Executive Vice President of LifeBridge Health. White delivered a presentation about LifeBridge Health and its expansion plans. LifeBridge Health, which offers comprehensive health care in the Greater Baltimore region including of ambulatory services, urgent care, transportation, acute care, post-acute care and housing/assisted living, is planning to expand its Sinai Hospital campus and create opportunities and positive growth in the neighborhood surrounding Pimlico Race Course.

The project aims to catalyze development, attract new businesses, create new jobs and improve safety and security. While not part of LifeBridge’s development plans, the company is supportive of investment and improvements to the neighboring Pimlico Race Course.

Lisa McNeilly, Director of Sustainability for the Baltimore Department of Planning, discussed the 2018 Baltimore Sustainability Plan at the GBC Economic Development Committee’s August 28, 2018 meeting. The Baltimore Office of Sustainability develops and advocates for programs, policies and actions by government, residents, businesses and institutions that improve the long-term environmental, social and economic viability of Baltimore City. A Commission on Sustainability was created, which is working to implement a City-wide plan, which is expected to be released later this year.

The committee also heard from Bill Cole, President and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation. Cole provided an overview of Baltimore City’s economic development strategic planning efforts. He also discussed the status of implementing economic development-related recommendations from the Mayor Catherine Pugh’s Transition report.

Cole then outlined the mayor’s top three economic development priorities: redeveloping Pimlico Race Course and saving the Preakness; expanding the Baltimore Convention Center; and launching the $50 million Baltimore Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund, which is expected to happen this fall.

The GBC Economic Development Committee engaged in two discussions at its June 5, 2018 meeting. First, Brian Levine, GBC’s Vice President and Special Assistant to the President and CEO, discussed the recommendations contained in Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s 2017 Transition Report that were focused on economic and employment development. The report, which concentrated on eight core areas, included an economic and employment development section that was segmented into four key areas: Workforce Development and Youth Employment; Attracting, Retaining and Expanding Businesses; Neighborhood Retail Development; and Arts and Culture as an Economic Driver.

The Committee engaged in a discussion about the recommendations and then transitioned to a discussion, moderated by GBC President and CEO Don Fry, about the development of economic development-related best practices and recommendations that could be shared with the Gubernatorial candidates in the fall.

The GBC Economic Development Committee’s April 10, 2018 meeting featured Amy Bonitz, President and CEO of Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation (BARCO). She provided a presentation on art-based neighborhood revitalization.

BARCO, which works to build anchor facilities that nurture and grow Baltimore’s creative people and organizations, develops real estate into powerful platforms for creativity and community building with a goal to strengthen Baltimore’s human, social and economic capital by providing access to quality space, leveraging shared resources and building social networks and a sense of community. Bonitz said that since 2007, BARCO’s efforts have led to redevelopment in 12 neighborhoods, $500 million in investment and 800 new housing units.

The Committee received a presentation about the 2018 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly, which concluded Sine Die on April 9, 2018. Regarding economic development, the legislature passed bills to expand community benefits districts in Baltimore City, allow for single sales factor apportionment of corporate income taxes (rather than three factor apportionment) and improve the One Maryland Tax Credit incentive for distressed jurisdictions.

The Economic Development Committee met on February 6, 2018 with Annie Milli, Executive Director of Live Baltimore, whose mission is to recruit and retain Baltimore City residents.

Milli’s presentation focused on Live Baltimore’s data-driven effort to identify livable communities in Baltimore City and how to define which neighborhoods are best for investment. The effort seeks to revitalize neighborhoods around Baltimore City with the potential to grow and become more attractive for new families to buy a home.  Ultimately, more attractive communities means a growing population and tax base for Baltimore City.

2017 Economic Development Committee news:

Amber Wendland, Associate Architect at Ayers Saint Gross, led the Economic Development Committee in a discussion at its December 5, 2017 meeting about how urban university campuses are changing their design to improve public safety.

Three main concepts define safety-oriented design trends taking place on campuses: Edges and gateways, collaboration and connectivity. Changes based on these concepts enhance public safety by developing relationships with adjacent communities and promoting mixed-use spaces, while maintaining spatial identity.

Specific elements of these design changes include incorporating active ground floors, glass facades, streetscaping, enhanced lighting, public art and open space. When possible, amenities that were previously inward facing and tenet-oriented should become more accessible to the public. Other large contiguous areas in the city owned or managed by organizations can also apply these principles to make their campuses safer.

The Economic Development Committee’s Subcommittee for Urban Development and Parks presented at the October 10, 2017 meeting its final draft proposal to create green space and a trestle park in the Broadway East neighborhood. The committee then heard presentations on Innovative Development Models from Greg Smith, CFO for Shift Capital, and Tim Pula, Vice President of Community Development for Beatty Development.

Shift Capital is a social enterprise whose goal is to improve the neighborhood while maintaining affordability. Raising $20 million in capital, Shift acquired 1.5 million square feet of space—residential, commercial, and industrial—concentrated in the Kensington neighborhood of northern Philadelphia. Its signature investment is a 14-story 112,000 square foot Art Deco tower called The Beury. The Beury has benefited from nearly $20 million in tax credits and grants on a $38 million dollar project that will help transform the eyesore into a mixed-use anchor for the community.

Pula put Baltimore’s modern economic history in context, which led to a discussion on the development around the harbor. Formerly a manufacturing and shipping site, Pula credits the development as “restoring the economic engine for today’s economy.” This growth extends beyond the harbor to the entire city, including Old Town and Perkins Homes where Beatty Development has been awarded contracts by the City of Baltimore to redevelop the area.

The committee’s discussion ended on the subject of equity. As the group continues to discuss the theme of “Investing in Our Neighborhoods,” Pula shared Beatty Development’s overall vision for the Old Town-Perkins Project. Beatty is seeking to build a mixed-income community replacing the 600 units on the current Perkins Homes site for a total build out of nearly 1,300 units. Part of that vision is also to reconnect the street grid to promote vibrancy, which was disconnected to build concentrated public housing. The site is also adjacent to a school, which the developer hopes to work with and make improvements.

At the Economic Development Committee’s August 22, 2017 meeting, Benjamin Seigel, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins 21st Century Citizen Initiative, described the current level of financial support for small businesses in Baltimore, including the sources and amounts of funds invested in Baltimore-based entrepreneurs and firms, as well as the scale and value of investments made by Baltimore-based financial institutions and investors.

The Innovation and Technology, Economic Development and Transportation and Mobility committees met jointly May 30, 2017 and heard from Bill Cole, President and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation, and Jim Smith, Chief of Strategic Alliances for the City of Baltimore, during a panel discussion on Baltimore’s economic future. Cole and Smith gave presentations and answered questions highlighting some of the challenges, assets and opportunities within the city’s economic development landscape.

While it can be challenging to connect workers to employment centers, the city is actively pursuing measures to build neighborhood commercial centers, implement shuttles to complement MTA service and realize a complete streets and multimodal vision for transportation in the long-term. The Baltimore market is growing with some of its largest development projects being completed in downtown Baltimore and in neighborhoods throughout the city. However, many opportunities exist to continue developing the city lead by a host of incentives, a BDC loan fund, efforts to attract new business, expanding fiber optic broadband access to the entire city and on-boarding top leaders to lead the City’s technology and transportation needs.

At the Economic Development Committee’s April 4, 2017 meeting, Dr. Lindsay Thompson, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University, gave context to Baltimore’s economic climate by delivering an informed presentation on global and metro area trends and the importance of innovation. Dr. Thompson highlighted the need for economic, social, political and technological innovation.

With regards to social innovation, Thompson expressed the importance to invest in children. “We need the intellectual power of every kid in our city,” said Thompson, who noted that includes investing in a variety of environmental factors which influence a child’s development. She also spoke about the city as a whole, conveying that Baltimore has unleveraged assets, a great location, and a “cool factor.” It is with P3’s and Public-Public partnerships with other counties and regional partners that we can innovate and invest our way out of our current problems. A dialogue on the subject was then held between the professor and committee members, providing a vision of what makes a healthy, sustainable city in the 21st century.

Claire Broido Johnson, President of CBJ Energy, presented information on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing to the committee at the February 7, 2017 meeting. PACE financing is an off balance sheet liability that is immediately cash flow positive and can be combined with other tax credits. CBJ has more than $120 million in financing available for sustainable multi-family and commercial projects. View her presentation here.