How to Achieve Baltimore’s Next Economy

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Courtesy of Citybizlist – A prescription has been written to move Baltimore into its next economic phase.

But first, consider these facts: the highest paying jobs in the greater Baltimore region grew less than 10 percent for almost a 30-year span up to the Great Recession of 2007-2009. The figure was nearly triple that nationally. By contrast, the lowest paying jobs grew more than 62 percent, both regionally and nationally during that time.

These figures appear in a recent study by Brookings Institution Fellow Jennifer VeyBuilding from Strength: Creating Opportunity in Greater Baltimore’s Next Economy.

In it, Vey espouses three main points: 1) not enough quality jobs are being created, and low income jobs are on the rise in the region; 2) greater Baltimore is not sufficiently taking advantage of the assets at its disposal; and 3) the region needs to invest in the “next economy” while ensuring that low income people are able to tap into it.

The Baltimore Sun ran a front page story last week citing Vey’s report, indicating what five industries Baltimore leadership should be focus: Manufacturing, Bioscience, Information Technology, “Green,” and Transportation and Logistics.

Intrigued by what the city should focus on, citybizlist wanted to know how the area should tap into those industries.

Vey’s excellent, 71-page study, available here, does just that.

Below, we have summarized – indeed in most places excerpted verbatim – the prescriptions she provides on how Baltimore can boost its economy within these five industries. We have also included a sixth bullet point on Health Care given the region’s concentration of health care givers and innovators.

Critically, Vey points out that it is imperative to help workers get the skills and education necessary for these “next economy” jobs. “The workforce system needs to work much more closely with employers to increase the availability of apprenticeships, mentoring programs, and on-the-job training opportunities so that formal schooling is accompanied by real world experience,” she notes.

MANUFACTURING

– – Focus on Exports: For manufacturers in Baltimore to remain competitive, they must overcome their reticence to export-as found in a recent survey of local firms-and find new global markets.

– – Support Infrastructure: The region has strong transportation and logistics networks of roads, railways, and warehouses, as well as Baltimore-Washington International Marshall airport (BWI) and the port; all are vital to moving materials, supplies, and finished products into and back out of the region.

– – Help Foster Innovation: State and regional leaders could in the short term incent Small and Mid Sized Manufacturers to form a consortium focused on promoting manufacturing innovation and helping workforce providers design training programs. Over the longer term, leaders should work with universities-and programs within them such as MTech-the regional Manufacturing institute, the Baltimore industrial group, and the Manufacturer’s Alliance of Maryland to establish an advanced manufacturing research center in the region.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

– – Leverage the Area’s IT Assets/Resources: If leveraged in the right ways, the Baltimore region’s IT assets and resources could help push the region into the top tier of commercial markets. The Baltimore-Washington corridor is home to a large concentration of IT workers, and the state’s colleges, universities, and training centers confer about 3,560 new degrees or certificates in computer and information sciences each year. Its Mid-Atlantic location provides a huge, accessible base of potential clients and investors. And its thick it job market and overall quality of life make it an attractive place for young workers and entrepreneurs. That the IT community is burgeoning is apparent in the growing number of initiatives and events, from Ignite Baltimore to tech crawls, aimed at drawing technologists, investors, and others together in new and innovative ways.

– – Continue to Foster Support via Organizations/Resources: The state’s 25 business incubators-most of which have a technology focus-have provided hundreds of companies with the space, resources, connections, and technical assistance they need to get off the ground. Improved access to startup/seed capital along with the adoption of a more risk-tolerant investor community would help foster more growth and innovation.

– – Continue to Focus on Broadband: The Intergovernmental One Maryland Inter County Broadband Network (ICBN) is using $115 million granted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) Broadband Technology opportunities program to build a high-speed fiber-optic network that will directly connect 715 anchor institutions in central Maryland, including hundreds of K-12 public schools, libraries, public safety agencies, community colleges, and other government institutions.

– – Cross Fertilize IT with Other Regional Industries: Opportunity exists in the metro area to cross-fertilize IT with other regionally represented industries, particularly health care and the life sciences.

BIOSCIENCE

– – Commercialize Products: If Maryland’s metro areas want to successfully compete with their peers in California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, they must use their robust research capacity as a launching pad for the development of more new products and the creation of more new companies that can bring these products to market.

– – Capital and Entrepreneurial Support: Improve the access to early-stage capital, stimulate product development, support and recruit entrepreneurs, and encourage more collaboration between academia and industry.

Read more at Citybizlist

 



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