Economic Development Committee

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Membership: Membership in the Economic Development Committee is open to all GBC members. Committee membership includes architects, developers, real estate lawyers, contractors, brokers, consultants, nonprofit housing organizations, foundations and planning and economic development agencies.

What does the committee do: The Economic Development Committee is an action-oriented committee that creates opportunities for its members to initiate and participate in projects and programs that will affect positive change to the region. Through this committee, GBC members can do such things advocate and promote for green building policies and sustainable practices, participate in projects that improve the built environment throughout the Baltimore region and meet and work with other members of the built environment and sustainable business industry.

The committee currently has three active initiatives. The Neighborhoods First Initiative works to identify and create opportunities that will encourage regionalism by working in areas that cross jurisdictional boundaries. The committee is currently working on Belair Road and has successfully brought the city and the county to work together on projects such as design, streetscaping, branding and releasing a market study. The Regional Gateways Initiative works to develop strategies and partnerships that create welcoming and inviting gateways into Baltimore. The Baltimore Bicycling Initiative supports biking programs in Baltimore.

2017 Economic Development Committee news:

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.

2016 Economic Development Committee news:

Peter Doo, Commissioner of the Baltimore Sustainability Commission, and Anne Draddy, Sustainability Coordinator at Baltimore Office of Sustainability, provided the committee with an overview of the sustainability plan and solicited feedback for its future update at the November 29, 2016 meeting.

There have been many successes since the original sustainability plan in 2009, including the municipal trash can program and an increase in the number of Zipcars within the city. The committee provided Doo and Draddy with feedback on the plan, including examining equity more closely, streamlining processes, empowerment of the commission to ensure completion of projects, reducing litter, improving indoor air quality, working with students and promoting the benefits of the plan to the public. A draft of the updated plan will be available next year for public review.

Committee Chair Caroline Moore began the September 20, 2016 meeting by reviewing the August retreat and its importance to the overall goal: gaining an understanding of all the various projects in Baltimore City and how to pull them together into one comprehensive vision.

Amy Gilder-Busatti, Green Network Project Manager at the Department of Planning, provided the committee with an update on Baltimore’s Green Tracks initiative. Amber Wendland, Architect with Ayers Saint Gross, delivered a cogent account of the East Baltimore Revitalization Project being developed with Southern Baptist Church (SBC) for the Broadway East neighborhood. Broadway East is an epicenter of multiple amenities outside of the green network plan, which can be used to tie them all together, and the committee is looking at the possibility of conducting a pilot project in the area.

The Economic Development Committee heard multiple presentations during a half-day retreat on August 30, 2016 to determine where resources are being directed in the City of Baltimore that can potentially be used to support the future development of a green network that connects multiple neighborhoods.

Tom Stosur, Director of the Baltimore City Department of Planning, started the discussion by discussing the green network plan that is being developed by the city. On behalf of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, Deputy Commissioner Julia Day offered insight into the acquisitions and demolition processes. Caitlin Doolin, Bike and Pedestrian Planner for the Baltimore Department of Transportation, highlighted where investments in bike infrastructure are to be located. Jim Brown, Manager of Trail Development at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, highlighted the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network and Grishae Blackette, Department of Transportation Southeast Community Liaison, presented on how communities can be involved in various department processes and gave an update on upcoming road projects. Halle Van Der Gaag, Executive Director of Blue Water Baltimore, and Jason Perkins-Cohen, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, headed up a panel discussion on infrastructure and workforce development. In addition, community, development and finance and political perspectives were presented to members.

Tom Stosur, Director of the Baltimore City Department of Planning, and Amy Gilder-Busatti, Project Manager, provided the Economic Development Committee with an overview of the city’s Green Network Plan at the committee’s July 18, 2016 meeting.

The Green Network is a comprehensive plan that links existing green space throughout the city and create new spaces while transforming vacant properties into usable spaces. The plan will serve as a blueprint as to where urban farms, open space, gardens, development and other features can be placed to promote sustainability, economic development, connectivity and quality-of-life. The plan has been fully released to the public and planners are soliciting feedback. The master plan is expected to be completed in late February 2017.

The Economic Development Committee learned about Baltimore’s new bike sharing program at its May 10, 2016 meeting. The committee heard from Katie Kessler and Brian Esposito of Comcast Spectacor and Jay Decker from Baltimore City’s Department of Transportation.

The program, called Bike Share, is an innovative concept that makes short-term bicycles rentals available to the public. The concept has already been successfully implemented in other cities, including Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. This idea helps spur economic development by increasing property values around Bike Share stations, reducing traffic, increasing mobility options for tourists and helping employees get to their jobs or meetings efficiently.

A total of 50 Bike Share stations with 500 bikes will appear throughout Baltimore this fall with plans to expand in the near future. Forty percent of these GPS-equipped bikes will be electric-assisted, a technology that makes the barrier for use much lower for all types and levels of riders. To track progress and get additional details, click here.

On April 12, 2016, the Economic Development Committee held a joint meeting with the Transportation and Mobility Committee on the issue of Amtrak’s Baltimore Penn Station Master Plan. Three Amtrak officials made presentations, including: Rina Cutler, Senior Director, Major Stations Planning & Development and Brian Traylor, Infrastructure Planning Manager, Baltimore Penn Station.

Amtrak is in the midst of a three part solicitation for a private sector operator of the station and its surrounding property. The process includes a Request for Information (RFI) from businesses to act as a master developer who would be responsible for an implementable master plan; a Request for Quotation (RFQ), which is a standard business process whose purpose is to invite suppliers into a bidding process to bid on the specific elements of the master plan; and a request for proposal (RFP), which is the solicitation made through a bidding process by a company interested in procuring the right to participate in the Penn Station improvement plan to submit a business proposal.

Amtrak officials suggest referring to which will soon have updates about the Baltimore Penn Station plan.

The Economic Development Committee heard from Don Fry, President and CEO of the GBC, Kevin Quinn, Director of Planning and Capital Programming for the MTA, and Richard Hall, Executive Director, Citizens Planning and Housing Association, at its March 15, 2016 meeting.

Fry presented an overview of transportation initiatives in the region, as well as key transportation bills being discussed in the current Maryland General Assembly legislative session; Quinn presented an overview of the new BaltimoreLink, a multi-phase plan to create an interconnected transit system; and Hall discussed if the Baltimore region is on the path for meaningful improvement.

View Quinn’s presentation here.

At its February 29, 2016 meeting, the Economic Development Committee heard from Michael Cryor, Chair of OneBaltimore. Cryor provided an overview and update of OneBaltimore’s initiatives for 2016.