GBC’s Fry: Bioscience teamwork

Don Fry Commentary on WYPR

At a time when elected leaders in Maryland seem to convert any available public policy issue into a partisan battleground, they are managing to work together on at least one strategic effort – the initiative to nurture bioscience industry growth.

Consider, for example, the April 17 groundbreaking for a life sciences building on Wolfe Street in East Baltimore.

The building will house the first of a planned two million square feet of bioscience facilities at the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins, expected to generate more than 6,000 jobs. The biopark will anchor a massive neighborhood revitalization on 80 of the city’s most blighted acres that will include 1,200 new housing units, 150,000 square-feet of retail and office space and a new school.

Projects of this magnitude don’t happen without a lot of cooperation. The recent groundbreaking was preceded by five years of extraordinary teamwork between government, business and community.

Government at all levels pitched in. To date, Baltimore City, the State of Maryland, and three federal agencies have provided $75 million in funding.

Johns Hopkins is a major investor and partner. Other private-sector partners include the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and a dozen other foundations and nonprofits.

Minority business inclusion has been a major element in every phase of the project.

East Baltimore’s community organizations have played major planning and oversight roles.

Maryland’s U.S. senators and congressional delegation, our governor, Baltimore’s mayor, numerous state legislators, and City Council members strongly support this and other projects to nurture bioscience business growth around Baltimore’s world-class research institutions.

Examples like this reassure those of us who get discouraged by election-year disharmony and political fragmentation. It reminds us that in Maryland we actually do know how to work together to get important business growth initiatives accomplished.

It’s a sharp contrast to that overdose of political posturing during the recent Maryland General Assembly.

Maryland could benefit from less of that and more of the kind of teamwork taking place in East Baltimore.

For the Regional Business Report, this is Don Fry, President of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.

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