Sheila Brooks2

Sheila Brooks, chair of the President’s Rountable, says the PRT is working with the Port Covington to ensure that minorities benefit from the multi-billion dollar development. (Courtesy photo)

The President’s RoundTable of Baltimore, an organization of Black CEOs, has gone on record in support of the $5.5 billion dollar Port Covington Water front Project proposed by UnderArmour Founder Kevin Plank and championed by Sagamore Development. However, the group does want changes made to the agreement that would benefit minority contractors and workers before it is finalized.

President’s Roundtable Chair Sheila Brooks said RoundTable members have been directly engaged with Sagamore executives to ensure communities of color benefit from the proposed unprecedented multi-billion dollar, mixed-use development. “We have been in discussions with Sagamore Development for some time now on a collaborative strategy to support minority equity participation that would be beneficial for Baltimore,” Brooks, who is also President and CEO of SRB Communications, told the AFRO.

Opponents of the Port Covington Project have expressed concerns that people-of-color and low wealth residents will be left behind with respect to employment and housing opportunities.  But in a statement, Brooks countered that the RoundTable’s involvement is a voice that served as an advocate for those very communities.  “The President’s RoundTable is committed to economic development initiatives that stimulate Baltimore’s economy and create jobs in our communities,” Brooks said. “This the core belief underlying our approach to working in collaboration with Sagamore, Under Armor and Plank Industries,” she said.

Jim Davenport, President of American Technology Corporation and a member of the President’s Roundtable, supports the Port Covington Project but appeared before the City Council Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee earlier this month to oppose Project Labor Agreements that may be packaged with a vote on the $535 million-dollar Port Covington TIF (tax incentive financing) request the Council will consider this Fall.

Davenport said, Project Labor Agreements or PLA’s would restrict minority hiring. “I see this as once again allowing trade unions import labor from outside the city and state to meet demands that could go to local Black and woman owned businesses,” Davenport said. “I am very disturbed when I visit construction sites in this city and see the lack of people that look like me,” Davenport, who is African American, said.

The President’s RoundTable members joins a number of civic and community groups supporting the Port Covington Development project including The SB Six Coalition representing the South Baltimore communities of Brooklyn, Cherry Hill, Curtis Bay, Lakeland, Mount Winans and Westport, all communities that border the proposed project and Hungry Harvest, a nationally-recognized social-entrepreneurship venture.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been a consistent supporter of Port Covington and has stated that she would like to sign TIF legislation before she leaves office at the end of the year.

The President’s RoundTable, founded in 1983, is an organization of African-American private sector and non-profit CEO’s and presidents who oversee organizations with combined assets exceeding 1.1 billion support and employ a combined 1750 employees. Full disclosure: Jake Oliver, CEO and Publisher of the AFRO}, is member. The organization’s mission is to advocate for the growth of minority business.