With overwhelming support from Greater Baltimore Committee member companies, the GBC raised nearly $203,000 for the Baltimore Development Corporation’s Baltimore Business Recovery Fund at its May 11 Annual Meeting.
More than 65 businesses pledged $152,990 at the event. The GBC contributed $50,000 to the fund.
The business community’s support of the recovery fund underscores the GBC’s message of collaboration following the recent civil unrest and the theme of the 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting – “A Time for Leadership … Then and Now.”
People, neighborhoods and businesses must work collectively to restore city neighborhoods affected by the recent violence, said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the GBC.
“We must recognize that recent protests and unrest constitute a boiling point, not an isolated incidental occurrence,” Fry said. “Public policy leaders and business advocates must be careful not to minimize or politicize what’s happening here.
“Addressing and resolving issues related to law enforcement, poverty, education, employment opportunity and other factors that spawned the unrest,” he said, “will require a fresh new level of collaboration among leaders in the community, large and small businesses, labor, education, foundations, community faith leaders and government.”
David Warnock, the incoming GBC board chairman, also highlighted the need for collaboration.
“Much rebuilding needs to begin but most of it is in the area of trust,” he said. “The breach in our collective confidence that we can tackle the serious inequities and poverty that plague our city is real and will only be overcome with leadership and collaboration at all levels.
“Tonight, I affirm my belief that there is a One Baltimore, that it still lies in our grasp, and it lies in us,” said Warnock, managing partner of Camden Partners and founder and chairman of the Warnock Foundation.
Brian Rogers, who served as chairman of the GBC’s Board of Directors from 2012 to 2015, echoed Fry’s sentiment.
“I think we have to try some different things in Baltimore,” Rogers said. “Much of what we’ve done over the last 30, 40, 50 years maybe hasn’t worked as well as it should have. We really have to step back and try some different alternatives, some different policy approaches, some different funding mechanisms to try to address some of the challenges that have come to a head over the last several weeks.”
In addition to addressing how the business community can contribute to Baltimore’s recovery, the event also celebrated the impact the GBC and its members have had on Baltimore City and the five surrounding counties since its founding in 1955. The GBC has advanced significant economic development projects, developed strategies for change and served as a thought leader and action-oriented advocate for fresh ideas regarding public policies and strategies impacting the economic success, vitality and quality of life of the Greater Baltimore region.
The GBC celebrated two individuals who, over the years, have contributed to the Greater Baltimore region.
The GBC presented Doreen Bolger, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, with the Regional Visionary Award for outstanding contributions to improving the region.
“Doreen Bolger is a dynamic force in the Baltimore arts community. She has greatly enhanced the quality and reach of one of the region’s treasured art institutions, the Baltimore Museum of Art,” GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry said in presenting the award to Bolger. “Her tireless ‘museums matter’ approach has transformed the BMA and enlivened the Baltimore arts community.”
During her 17-year tenure at the BMA, Bolger has nearly doubled the museum’s endowment, from $56.2 million to $101 million; lead the drive for free admission to the museum; and managed substantial museum renovations and expansion of gallery space for significant collections, including Post-Impressionist, American masterworks, African art and Asian art.
Bolger has announced that she will retire on June 30.
The GBC also presented U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski with the Howard “Pete” Rawlings Courage in Public Service Award. The award honors public officials who demonstrate exceptional courage while serving in elected or appointed public office.
Earlier this year, Mikulski announced that she will not seek a sixth term in 2016 and will retire from Congress in 2017.
“Small in stature but larger than life, Senator Mikulski is both the champion of the person on the street and the visionary leader who has worked to make Maryland ready for the next century,” Fry said in presenting the award to her. “She is unapologetically who she is – plain spoken, fierce in her convictions, and devoted to each and every citizen of Maryland.”
“This is the time not to wring your hands, but to do helping hands,” Mikulski said. “The first hands have to be let’s reach out to the people who are the most affected and come up with great ideas and put our shoulder to the wheel. Baltimore did it before – we built after the Baltimore fire (of 1904), we built after the 1968 riots, we’ve had setbacks, we have ups and we have downs. When the times get tough, the tough get going and we create new times. So let’s work together and may the force be with us.”
Call to action
The Baltimore Development Corporation continues to accept donations for its Baltimore Business Recovery Fund. To contribute, visit http://baltimoredevelopment.com/donations.