The Challenge and the Potential of Charm City
Urbanist Richard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class,” told attendees at the Downtown Partnership’s annual meeting in Baltimore that the city is a “distinguished global startup hub.”
A Unique Combination of Grit and Beauty
We have chosen to target our efforts in Baltimore City because of its unique combination of assets and need.
Baltimore City has a vibrant small business economy and thriving group of organizations working to support the under-represented entrepreneur population.
According to census data, over the pre-pandemic recovery period (2009-19), new businesses accounted for more than half (56 percent) of the city’s net private sector job growth. The city’s vibrant small business community—defined as less than 20 employees—accounted for 34 percent of job growth.
Today, small businesses in Baltimore City employ more than 300,000 workers - around 52% of Baltimore's total population - and generate approximately $19.5 billion in payroll for the local economy.
But Baltimore City struggles with a lack of financial resources and severe racial disparities.
Approximately 60% of the population of Baltimore is African American. The median net worth for black households is $0, whereas, for white households, it is $59,430. The gap in average earnings between blacks and whites in Baltimore is $33,970, with only 34 percent of this gap explained by group differences in age, education, and gender.
The city lags behind surrounding counties in terms of adult educational attainment. Only 22 percent of Baltimore residents have a college degree compared to 36 percent in Baltimore County.
According to the Justice Policy Institute and the Prison Policy Initiative, the city of Baltimore has an incarceration rate three times that of the national average.
Since 2000, Baltimore has experienced one of the highest rates of gentrification in the U.S., making it even more challenging to afford to live and run a business in Baltimore.
A June 2022 ICIC study analyzed how COVID has impacted the nation’s 100 largest places. Baltimore consistently ranked near the bottom of key measurements, including business growth in under-resourced communities (ranking 94th among the 100 regions), business growth among black-owned businesses (ranking 97th), and overall business/employment growth since the start of the pandemic (ranking 95th).
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