Private Sector-Driven Advocacy: A 2012 Year In Review For The GBC

The Greater Baltimore Committee acts as consensus builder on complex, long-term initiatives intended to have a profound effect on the business climate and quality of life in Baltimore and Maryland.

Through the support and involvement of the GBC board, its broad base of member businesses, nonprofits and professional staff, the GBC identifies business needs and business climate issues in Baltimore and its five surrounding counties and takes action to address them.

Following are highlights from the work of the GBC during 2012.

New GBC chairman Brian Rogers cites 'competitiveness' as top issue

T. Rowe Price chairman and chief investment officer Brian C. Rogers began his tenure as chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee on May 15 by offering some cogent comments on the topic of business competitiveness in Maryland.

Chief Executive magazine called attention to our state's competitive challenges when it ranked Maryland No. 40 on its 2012 "Best and Worst States" for business list, Rogers pointed out to more than 850 members and guests at the GBC annual meeting.

"We can do a lot better than No. 40," said Rogers. "What we must do is to foster an environment conducive to innovation, entrepreneurship and new business formation."

Promoting 'core pillars' in Annapolis
The GBC promoted its "Gaining a Competitive Edge" report's core pillars for economic growth and job creation to lawmakers as standards for evaluating legislation and for ultimately improving the state's fiscal health.

The tenets of the core pillars, which the GBC will rely on heavily in 2013 to establish a strategic vision for our region, are: government that treats business as a partner; a highly-educated workforce; stable and predictable regulatory policies; a fair and competitive tax structure; competitive costs of doing business; superior and reliably-funded transportation infrastructure; strategic state investments in business growth; and an aggressive, coordinated state business marketing strategy.

GBC advances concept for reinvigorating the Inner Harbor
The GBC worked to advance its three-pronged concept for reinvigorating Baltimore's Inner Harbor, announced in May 2011, with a fresh "wow" factor that includes a new arena, hotel and expanded convention center; creating a world-class waterfront park at Rash Field; and enlivening the harbor with spectacular nighttime water and light shows.

Working with developer Willard Hackerman, the GBC identified more than a third of private financing for a new arena and hotel near the Inner Harbor. Also, the Maryland General Assembly included $2 million in the state's capital budget for preliminary planning work on an expanded convention center connected to the arena.

More than 20 GBC members sponsored a second year-end light show spectacular at the Power Plant, which was instrumental in 2011 in placing Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Yahoo Travel's Top Ten destinations for holiday lights. The show is a compelling demonstration of the GBC's concept for a broader schedule of nightly multimedia displays at the Harbor.

GBC members spearhead business participation in 'Hire One Youth' initiative
Seventy employers - more than half of which were GBC members - hired city young people for summer jobs, driving Baltimore City's new "Hire One Youth" initiative to significantly increase the number of private-sector opportunities for city youth between the ages of 16 and 21.

GBC President & CEO Donald C. Fry, who chaired the 2012 Hire One Youth Leadership team, agreed to head the program's team of business leaders again in 2013.

GBC launches business advisory councils in counties
Even in the age of social media and technology, a tried-and-true method of brainstorming is to meet face-to-face, which is why theGBC's newly-created regional business advisory councils emerged as vital in identifying business needs and moving ideas forward.

Regional business advisory councils were set up in Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties with the express purpose of expanding the GBC's involvement outside the city and building upon the organization's regional approach. The three councils focused on various issues related to regional business and local concerns ranging from regulations, workforce development, education and tourism, among others.

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