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   Clarification from Baltimore Development Corporation

Letter from Jay Brodie:

Clarification from Baltimore Development Corporation

Dear Editor:

Regrettably, the Winter 2002 article entitled "Report Criticizes City Efforts" did not give the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) an opportunity to respond to the September 2002 report by Good Jobs First which criticized Baltimore City's economic development efforts. Your readers should know that:

  • The [Good Jobs First] report fails to recognize that tourism is only one of seven industry clusters that BDC targets (the others are: manufacturing, warehousing/distribution, health care/life sciences, information technology, financial services, and neighborhood retail/grocery stores). Assistance to businesses in the tourism industry represents only a small fraction of BDC's activities. In 2002, for example, BDC helped retain Phillips Seafood (300 jobs) and Sierra Military Health Services (500 jobs) in Baltimore City and attracted NCO (650 jobs) to Montgomery Park, a $100 million redevelopment project in Baltimore's Empowerment Zone. Since 1996, we estimate that more than 70 percent of projects assisted by BDC were in neighborhoods beyond downtown.

  • The Camden Yards stadium complex was developed and financed by the State of Maryland and Maryland Stadium Authority. BDC had no involvement in that project.

  • The City Board of Estimates, on which the President of the City Council and City Comptroller Pratt sit, must approve the vast majority of the funds made available to BDC for economic development. Since 1996, approximately 87 percent of capital ftinds available to BDC for economic development, including loans to businesses, required Board of Estimates approval. The remaining 13 percent utilized two smaller BDC-run loan programs: the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), originally capitalized with federal and state grants, and the Empowerment Zone (EZ) loan program, funded by Empower Baltimore Management Corporation (EMBC). In addition, BDC's budget is subject to annual appropriation by the Mayor and City Council.
Salaries, health benefits, and job opportunities for City residents are all important elements that are factored into any request for financial assistance. All BDC projects undergo a thorough analysis. We recommend no assistance for companies or development projects that fail to meet a "but-for" test; that is, "but-for" the proposed financial assistance, the company will not remain in, expand within, or relocate to Baltimore City. We complete a cost/benefit analysis for all projects that fully identifies the City's investment and uses conservative assumptions to estimate number of jobs created, annual payroll and benefits, and other incremental taxes generated by the investment.

M. J. Brodie
President, Baltimore Development Corporation

EDITOR’S NOTE: The focus of the panel discussion and report was creating better-paying jobs for low-skilled workers. We appreciate the additional information provided by Mr. Brodie. See original story.

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This story was published on January 8, 2003.
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