By David W. Baird, Senior Managing Director
Baltimoreans- both native and transplanted – love to celebrate the diversity of the city’s neighborhoods. We take great pride in identifying ourselves by the unincorporated “villages” we live in that add such rich texture to the city as a whole. From Federal Hill and Canton to Hampden, Fells Point and Bolton Hill, many of our neighborhoods have undergone exciting growth over the past two decades. Unfortunately, the residents of proud communities like Penn North, East Oliver, Waverly and others have not benefitted and continue to suffer from decades of neglect. Like many older urban centers, we have indeed become two cities – those who have and those who don’t. The causes can be debated, but one thing we all agree on is that education and economic empowerment are essential to lifting everyone up, and achieving the kind of future that all residents of Baltimore deserve. It’s time to do something about it, and the city’s business, community and public-sector leaders are joining together, making a massive commitment of financial, intellectual and human resources to renew the city.
In the spirit of “One Baltimore,” and after the painful unrest stemming from the Freddie Gray tragedy last year, we are seeking solutions that address the core issues and not just the symptoms. Fortunately, the Johns Hopkins University System, the city and state’s largest private employer, stepped to the front and catalyzed an initiative known as Baltimore Local, or “BLocal.” Its goal is to unify and leverage the power of the Baltimore business community to foster meaningful and sustainable changes to the city’s economic landscape. Its mission, “Build, Hire and Buy Local,” goes far beyond the typical fundraising effort and challenges firms to not only put their money where their mouths are, but to make long-term, game-changing contributions to economic empowerment for city residents.
— Johns Hopkins (@JohnsHopkins) April 4, 2016
Twenty-five of Baltimore’s most prominent companies, including T. Rowe Price, Under Armour, Legg Mason, Exelon, and others including Cushman & Wakefield, were invited to participate. Each of us were tasked with creating a meaningful program to improve and leverage our building, hiring and buying power specifically directed to Baltimore’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. Already, over $69 million of direct and indirect investment commitments have been made, as well as the development of long-term career educational programs to get Baltimoreans back to work. Cushman & Wakefield Baltimore has taken the lead in the real estate sector by developing a career-track training program in property management services in conjunction with BOMA and Goodwill Industries. The seed funding for this exciting venture is coming directly from our brokers at their suggestion – a measure of Cushman & Wakefield’s commitment to making Baltimore, a city that has given us so much, a better place.
We are honored and excited to be part of this initiative and its official roll-out on Orioles Opening Day, Monday, April 4th. How fitting that the day that truly unites this city around one of its favorite sons – the Orioles – will also be the kick off for a long-term, program to unite ALL of us around job creation and improving the economic future for everyone in Charm City.
More to come…
David is Senior Managing Director in Cushman & Wakefield’s Baltimore, MD office. Mr. Baird has more than 30 years of commercial real estate experience in Maryland, national, and international markets, representing tenants, landlords, investors, and developers.