Baltimore area needs a regional economic development strategy
In the last five to 10 years, it would seem as though Baltimore is finally emerging (at least economically) — from its slow, multi-decade decline. But if you’re a resident of one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, you might not know it.
The region’s median household income — now 5th in the nation, according to the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore — is almost twice as high if you’re white; meanwhile, historically segregated, low-income African-American communities continue to be entrapped by a cycle of multi-generational poverty. More troubling, economic investment in the city sharpens that disparity: A recent Urban Institute report found neighborhoods that are less than 50% black receive nearly four times the investment (combined public, private and mission-led) of neighborhoods with a black population of more than 85%.
The good news is that for the first time we’ve actually got a group of players primed to make real changes, be it private foundations like Annie E Casey; academic-led alliances like the Johns Hopkins 21st Century Initiative (21CC); local philanthropic organizations like the Baltimore Community Foundation, Living Classrooms Foundation and the Abell Foundation; or impact investing programs from RBC GAM.
So why have we yet to move the needle? In short: We’re not working together. We may be on the same team, but we’re not empowered to act like it. We’re all doing what we can — a grant here, a new real-estate development there — but while these one-off projects may address short term pains, they can’t create sustainable transformation in Baltimore’s most impoverished communities. They can’t marshal the full-fledged private investment that all cities need to thrive.
Source: Baltimore Sun, Written by Baltimore Community Foundation's Patti Chandler, Vice President of Finance and Administration, and RBC Global Asset Management's Catherine Banat, Director of U.S. Responsive Investing