CEO Jamie McDonald speaks alongside Relationship Development Director Kory Bailey during UpSurge Baltimore’s first anniversary event, June 2022. (Photo by Brandon Towns)

To Kory Bailey, the asset that separates Baltimore from other places where founders might want to build companies and careers is not its affordability or geographic proximity to other cities. It’s something more elemental: love.

“I was on a call recently, and someone said, ‘If New York is about money, and LA is about fame, and DC is about power, then what is Baltimore about?’” the 2022 RealLIST Connectors honoree recounted on Tuesday evening at Pigtown’s 1100 Wicomico building. “And I said that Baltimore is about love. And not that cheesy, Hollywood fantasy love — real love, right?”

Bailey characterized the city as such to a grateful crowd during an event commemorating several first-year benchmarks for UpSurge Baltimore, the startup ecosystem builder where he works as director of relationship development. The celebration took place on the actual first anniversary of Equitech Tuesdays, the networking and discussion-based meetups that Bailey organizes at Station North restaurant Alma Cocina, and also belatedly recognized UpSurge’s first birthday back in April.