By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) hosted the second annual Baltimore Together Summit on Oct. 20. The event was a time to share the progress made on the city’s comprehensive economic development strategy, Baltimore Together, which was adopted in 2021.

The plan’s overarching goals include creating an equitable economy, supporting equitable neighborhood development, leading in key industry sectors, forging a stronger workforce system and building a thriving small business ecosystem. 

“There’s just so many positive things happening in Baltimore. Yes, we have our challenges, but we don’t really take the time to celebrate our wins,” said Colin Tarbert, president and CEO of BDC. “Today is a celebration of the work that’s being done here by all kinds of partners.” 

In alignment with Baltimore Together’s “invest in people of places” and “build from strength” strategies, Tarbert highlighted BDC’s recent effort to drive investment in West Baltimore. 

“Last week, we announced the relocation of the Mayor’s Office of Cable and Communications (MOCC), which houses Charm TV, to the Black Arts District,” said Tarbert. “That was one of the recommendations in the plan, to invest in the Black Arts District in West Baltimore.”

The project comprises 20,000 square feet and will transform eight city-owned vacant lots into a state-of-the art community anchor in Penn North with studios, community rooms, rentable spaces and a cafe. 

Tarbert also called attention to the release of design plans for the redevelopment of Harborplace in the Inner Harbor. The announcement was made just hours before the Baltimore Together kicked off. 

“We’re working with West Baltimore native David Bramble, who is an African-American developer, to move that project forward,” said Tarbert. “They’ve already recruited tenants that reflect the city. That’s happening because we’ve put together this vision about how we want to see economic development move forward in the city.” 

Mayor Brandon M. Scott touted the completion of two action items from the Baltimore Together plan, the renovation of Lexington Market and CFG Bank Arena, during the summit. He said he was initially met with skepticism from residents about value of the latter. 

“They said that we were crazy. They said it wouldn’t work. They said that it was putting lipstick on not a pig but on a rat is what somebody told me. I just happened to see that person at a concert a few weeks ago, and I said, ‘This rat looks pretty good on the inside,’ because the concerts have sold out each and every week,” said Scott. “We get to celebrate that great work.” 

The mayor also addressed public safety although it was not a part of the summit’s agenda. 

“We know that [public safety] is an issue in Baltimore, but what you won’t hear on the news tonight is that homicides in Baltimore are down 19 percent,” said Scott. “We know that we have to continue to push on that.” 

The summit culminated in a fireside chat between Tarbet and Governor Wes Moore, who reiterated that the state of Maryland cannot thrive without Baltimore flourishing. He highlighted his relaunch of the Red Line and states investments in Harborplace, the West North Avenue Corridor and the Ravens and Orioles stadiums. 

“We’ve come off of a stretch where Baltimore was being seen as an afterthought or where Baltimore was treated like this problem that needed to be solved in our state,” said Moore. “It was not only counterproductive, it was backwards because Baltimore is not the problem that needs to be solved. Baltimore is the gift that needs to be unearthed.” 

Megan Sayles is a Report For America corps member.