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News & Press: ABAG's Baltimore Business Journal Column

ABAG's BBJ Column: Chesapeake Restaurant's Revival Shows Power of Partnerships

Wednesday, August 14, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz
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August 13, 2013

By Celeste Amato, Contributing Columnist

President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Baltimore Business Journal

A new neighborhood restaurant, the Chesapeake, opened in the Station North Arts District this summer.

Long-time Baltimore residents will remember the site as the original Chesapeake Restaurant — a Baltimore dining institution for more than 50 years until closing in the late 1980s. After being shuttered for 25 years, 1701 N. Charles is serving lunch and dinner, and providing a new destination to grab a drink with friends. So, why reference a restaurant in a column about philanthropy and partnering for impact?

The rebirth of the Chesapeake as an active, vibrant business is the result of a new kind of multi-sector collaboration, bringing together government agencies, regional anchor institutions, financial institutions, next generation business leaders and social entrepreneurs to maximize reinvestment opportunities in neighborhoods, and reconnect low-income residents to employment.

The collaboration driving the Chesapeake project is the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP). Funded by the national Living Cities Foundation, this now 3-year-old partnership, is comprised of Baltimore foundations, private universities, government agencies and nonprofits that have come together to explore not just one-time, on-the-ground projects — but how those projects can inform long-term changes to workforce, capital and educational systems, policies and processes affecting Baltimore’s inner-core communities and residents.

Through its lending partner, the Reinvestment Fund, the Baltimore Integration Partnership offers a range of loan products for predevelopment, acquisition/ construction, small businesses, as well as semi-permanent and New Market Tax Credit financing.

Over the past several years the Baltimore Integration Partnership has helped move forward more than $100 million in projects beyond the Chesapeake Restaurant, including Apples & Oranges Fresh Market in East Baltimore; Telesis Barclay, a redevelopment of vacant lots and rowhomes in the Barclay/Midway/Old Goucher neighborhoods; the proposed Henderson- Hopkins School, a Johns Hopkins partnership school for kindergarten-8th grade in East Baltimore; and MICA Graduated Studios on North Avenue. Each project represents significant reinvestment and provides community residents new services, amenities and jobs.

"Partnering for impact is critical because government cannot overcome employment and other challenges on its own and neither can philanthropy” said Kurt Sommer, Baltimore Integration Partnership’s director. "Affecting large-scale change takes a large table, an opportunity to learn from the work, and leadership to tackle difficult issues, challenging conversations and ultimately to remove barriers and take risks for lasting change.”

Recognizing that no one sector can go it alone, Baltimore foundations are partnering now, through Baltimore Integration Partnership and other collaborations, to ensure a greater chance for lasting positive impact on the future of Baltimore and the region.

Celeste Amato is president of ‎the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

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