Editor’s note: The following was published in The Daily Record on May 23, 2019
As the 33rd chair of the Greater Baltimore Committee I was privileged to speak at its recent annual meeting to highlight several new initiatives the organization has undertaken to ensure that the Greater Baltimore region remains an attractive place for residents, businesses, innovators, employers, students, and visitors.
Four key GBC Board members are leading important projects that hopefully will benefit the private sector, as well as communities and residents throughout the region. Here is an overview of these initiatives and why the GBC believes this work is important.
First, in order to develop a clear and cohesive economic development strategy for Baltimore, we have formed a workgroup to develop what the GBC is calling Baltimore’s Blueprint for Economic Success, a roadmap to improve the delivery of economic development in Baltimore City. Led by Mary Ann Scully, GBC vice chair and chairman, president and CEO of Howard Bank, this work group is developing recommendations to enhance and complement the efforts of the Baltimore Development Corporation and others involved with the federally mandated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy due in 2020. These plans are required to be submitted every five years in order to receive federal dollars for specific economic projects.
The GBC’s blueprint will identify opportunities and challenges for growth, recommend a plan for how the city and the private sector can work together to encourage inclusive economic development.
The work group has identified several key strategies to encourage inclusive economic development: establishing appropriate goals for long- and short-term results and creating metrics to track continuous improvement; focusing on the retention and expansion of existing businesses to fuel growth; and making investments in people and their skills to ensure the workforce meets employer needs so they can grow and compete.
To ensure the economic strategy for Baltimore is successful, among other steps the GBC will help establish a website so the public can access the plan and see whether the city is meeting the goals, establish a mentoring network for startups, and work with promising small businesses to ensure they grow.
Another promising GBC project is the Baltimore Regional Workforce Development Initiative, led by Calvin Butler, GBC board vice chair and president of BGE.
The GBC Regional Workforce Development Work Group is examining the region’s future workforce needs in high-growth, high-demand industries and identifying the skills that will be required to meet those needs over the next 10 years. The group is conducting an inventory of the educational and training programs throughout the region that prepare workers for the expected jobs of the future.
Subsequent analysis of this inventory by the work group will determine where training and skill gaps exist. Based on that, the group will offer recommendations to ensure that training programs align with the skill profiles of future job opportunities.
The GBC can help ensure that the region’s high-growth industries have a pipeline of highly-skilled workers who contribute to the region’s future economic stability and growth.
A third project returns us to one of the GBC’s initial priorities 64 years ago – an arena in downtown Baltimore that can host premier athletic events, family shows, and musical performances for a regional audience.
A work group chaired by GBC board member Bill McCarthy, executive director of Associated Catholic Charities, has been studying the prospects for a new or renovated arena. It has reviewed the costs and feasibility of renovating the existing Royal Farms Arena and examined several developers’ concepts for a new arena in other parts of the city.
A fourth project undertaken by the GBC is a Government and Ethics Reform Work Group, which is headed by Charles Monk, managing partner of the Baltimore office of Saul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr LLP and a former chair of the GBC. The group will review and make recommendations on proposed charter amendments and changes to the city’s ethics law to ensure that Baltimore is a national model of government effectiveness and the highest ethical standards.
Focusing on the future
The GBC is always looking forward. And with that in mind, while significant attention is focused on the presidential election, we should bear in mind that 2020 is also an election year for the next mayor and Baltimore City Council. The primary election is less than a year from now – April 28, 2020.
Elections matter. Strong elected leadership is the foundation of a stable and efficient government that promotes economic growth and competitiveness. It is critically important that we elect good leaders.
The GBC and I have issued a call to action for the private sector to get involved. The GBC will provide background on candidates regarding their qualifications and policy positions. It will also host candidate forums for the mayoral and council races to provide an opportunity for citizens to hear from the candidates and engage them directly.
The GBC does not endorse candidates for public office and does not financially support candidates. But it does have an important responsibility to inform the business community as voters make decisions on the candidates. The GBC will carry out that role and responsibility with vigor.
The GBC and I ask employers in the region to encourage your company to participate actively in GBC-sponsored and election-related events, urge your employees to register to vote – and to vote, and share information about the candidates with your employees.
Paul A. Tiburzi, a partner at the DLA Piper LLP (US) law firm, is the chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee. This is a modified version of his remarks at the GBC’s May 13 annual meeting. His email is email@example.com.