The Department of Planning Equity Committee
presented a panel discussion, Building an Equitable Economy, on Wednesday,
April 20, in the Department of Planning offices to an audience of varying City
agency employees, non-profits, and foundation partners.
Moderated by John Lewis, Sr. Vice President of Harbor Bank, the panel included community members at the
forefront of economic development in Baltimore: Rodney Foxworth, Invested Impact; Parag Rajendra
Khandhar, Baltimore Activating Solidarity
Economies (BASE); Kurt Sommer, Baltimore
Integration Partnership; and Chris
Wilson, a social entrepreneur.
Lewis framed the discussion by asking the following
- What does equity in the economy mean to
you, and what specific work is your organization doing to achieve equity?
- What is the genesis of the increased
interest in economic inequality? What is the impact of anchor institutions?
- Is the push for entrepreneurship and
innovation the new “pull yourself up by the bootstraps”? How can we support
entrepreneurs so they have a better chance at being successful?
- What efforts
are being made to ensure that financing is available to meet the needs of small businesses and start-ups?
The core of the discussion focused on the obstacles to
economic development in Baltimore City. Panelists discussed the need to connect residents
with prior convictions to job opportunities, and a citywide need to
provide resources to entrepreneurs,
particularly in the areas of access to credit and grant funds. They also discussed the idea of a
low-tech incubator for Baltimore, targeting entrepreneurs based in underserved
communities across Baltimore.
Panelists noted a need for a coordinated, city-wide economic strategy to address historic economic inequity. An audience member suggested the creation of a City initiative focused on financial inclusion, including issues around access to credit.
Panelists stressed the importance of empowering the
citizens of Baltimore. Succinctly stated early in the panel, the development of citywide economic strategies and goals should be shaped by the people who live in Baltimore.
The Planning Department's Equity Committee will continue its work in 2016, organizing another series of lunch discussions around development topics this summer.
On May 3, Baltimore City joined the national MetroLab Network, a network of 35
city-university partnerships focused on bringing data, analytics, and
innovation to local government. MetroLab Network was launched in September 2015
at the White House as part of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities
MetroLab Network’s city-university
partnerships are relationships in which the university serves as a research and
development arm, and the city serves as a test-bed for technologies and
policies. Baltimore City will be working with the University of Baltimore
and Johns Hopkins University on six different projects across City Agencies,
including a project to build an Inventory of Historical Places (IHP) for the
Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP).
For more information on MetroLab Network, visit: www.metrolabnetwork.org
Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) at the Jacob France Institute
(JFI) commissioned a report from a team of graduate students at
Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public
Policy. The McCourt team conducted an
analysis of the BNIA Baltimore
Pipeline database to assess the efficiency of the development review
process in Baltimore.
study found that 65% of projects had a total review time of less than 7 months,
and 50% of projects took less than 3 months. On the whole, Baltimore's development review process compared favorably to other cities.
The study, entitled “Real Estate Planning in Baltimore: An Analysis of Timelines and Factors Affecting the Development Review Process,” can be reviewed here.