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News & Press: ABAG's "Adventures in Philanthropy" Blog

Adventures in Philanthropy: "Region Needs to Build on Significant Assets"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Betsy Nelson
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May 6, 2012

By Betsy Nelson

Special to The Daily Record

Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the first of a four-part Redefining Capital series hosted by the Federal Reserve of Richmond/Baltimore Branch and a number of community partners — including, proudly, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

This forum featured the release of Building from Strength: Creating Opportunity in Greater Baltimore’s Next Economy, a study authored by Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In the study, and in the presentation that kicked off the discussion, Vey, a Baltimore resident, challenged local leadership to:

  • Focus economic development effort on industries that have the best potential to drive and/or support future growth — including advanced manufacturing, bioscience, information technology, "green” firms and jobs, and transportation and logistics. This isn’t just our same old list of "eds, meds and beds.” It builds out from these regional strengths to a prospective set of industries — the ones we might have if we intentionally focused on producing exports and increasing the number of good paying jobs.
  • Strengthen and coordinate education and training so that low-wage workers can get the skills and access they need to secure good paying jobs, and employers can have the skilled workers they need to produce and grow.The premise of the Brookings study — and of the Redefining Capital series hosted by the Fed — is that the Baltimore region has significant assets upon which to build a more inclusive, more robust, and more growth-oriented economy that benefits more people and in so doing increases opportunity for us all.

Commenting on the study, Patrice Cromwell, director of Economic Development and Integration Initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said that "next economy manufacturing presents untapped opportunities to build skills for jobs with good pay and benefits. We need to encourage and support this kind of growth for businesses and people.”

Of course, these opportunities are predicated upon our community choosing to act upon these recommendations. And, I hope we will.

I also hope you will join me in attending the next event in the Redefining Capital series offered by the Federal Reserve in partnership with Associated Black Charities/More in the Middle Campaign, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board, the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, the Job Opportunities Task Force and the Maryland Bankers Association.

Upcoming in the series are:

  • June 7: Redefining Social Capital: Attracting and Supporting New Immigrants;
  • Sept. 13: Redefining Financial Capital: Investing in Communities;
  • Nov. 8: Redefining Economic Assets: Anchor Institutions as Engines of Growth.

For more information about the Redefining Capital series, visit the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers’ website,

For a copy of the Brookings study, Building from Strength: Creating Opportunity in Greater Baltimore’s Next Economy,click here.

Betsy Nelson, president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205

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