In September, I wrote about Elizabeth Green’s discussion on What Makes a Teacher Great? at Towson University as part of the Presidential Scholar Signature Forums Series.

This month I want to invite you to join Towson Univeristy Presidential Scholar, Dr. Nancy Grasmick, for the seventh event in the Presidential Scholar Signature Forums Series. Dr. Grasmick will moderate a discussion on November 16 titled Supporting Baltimore’s Students from Pre-K through College.

It Takes A Village to Raise A Child

That age-old saying has been reiterated across news cycles over-and-over again in the wake of Baltimore’s uprisings. We’ve seen stories of communities coming together to support youth and their neighborhood schools; however, much remains to be done. On November 16th, join three of Baltimore’s most visible voices on education and community for a frank and open conversation about what is working, what is needed, and what role everyone can play to support Baltimore’s students and thus its future.

  • Jason Botel

    Jason Botel

    Wes Moore

    Wes Moore

    Wes Moore, Author, Social Entrepreneur, Political Analyst, and Community Leader

  • Jason Botel, Former longtime Baltimore-KIPP Executive Director, Executive Director of Maryland CAN, and school choice expert
  • Moderator: Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Past Superintendent of Maryland State Schools and Towson University’s first Presidential Scholar for Innovation in Teacher and Leader Preparation
Dr. Nancy Grasmick

Dr. Nancy Grasmick

Key questions that will be addressed:

  • How can schools be created to best support under-served students?
  • What support systems are necessary outside of the classroom?
  • What can business leaders do to support students through college?
  • What are the biggest current barriers to student success?
  • What is Bridge Edu and how can it support college completion?
  • What are some innovative ideas/programs that have been tried and worked?

This free event will take place on Monday, November 16, 2015 in the Minnegan Room at Towson University, 4-6 p.m. Seats are limited — register today for this free event.

About the Presidential Scholar Signature Forums

The Preparing for Public Education in the 21st Century: Signature Forums speaker series focuses on providing Maryland’s education leaders, parents, teachers, and policy makers with access to the newest information and research on current and pertinent education topics. These forums provide a unique opportunity for education stakeholders to interact with national experts at the top of their field and access to the most up-to-date research for teacher preparation. Learn more at



The elimination of the proposed Redline and the lack of any alternative transit plan or even a comprehensive transit plan that would enhance the efficient movement of individuals in all directions within the metro area and specifically the City was tragic. However, I am pleased that some of the money will go to improve the aging Maryland highway infrastructure system. Now, before everyone jumps down my throat for what I am about to write, my focus is purely on the commercial aspects of the highway system. While I certainly do not want to discount the traffic woes of the everyday commuter, myself included, I recognize that highways serve a purpose of not just enabling employees to get to work but also the expedient delivery of goods and services to a wide array of customers.

Maryland Highway Infrastructure Generates Jobs

Maryland Highway InfrastructureApproximately 65% of all cargo by value is delivered by trucks and another 11% is through multimodal-rail to truck. Over three quarters of the cargo by value is transported along some road surface, most likely highways. Moreover, the trend in freight has been smaller and lighter, but high-value commodities as well as just-in-time manufacturing has put pressure on the trucking industry to deliver. However, the ability to deliver these vital goods and services to their designated places is wholly dependent on an efficient highway system.

The building and maintaining of highway infrastructure generates jobs and output, but just like a business owner who purchases new equipment to increase productivity, investments in highway infrastructure do increase productivity and therefore economic growth. In a 1998 study, The Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) at Towson University estimated that investments and improvements in highway infrastructure over the period 1982 through 1996 contributed 4% to Maryland’s economic growth over that period. This 4% growth is not related to the economic gains due to the construction of the highways but to their operation. This is a critical distinction.

Impact of Maryland Highway Infrastructure to the Economy

Maryland Highway InfrastructureThat sounds impressive maybe? According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) website, Maryland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1997 was around $215 billion in constant dollars, and by 2014, Maryland’s GDP had increased to around $320 billion in constant dollars. Over the 17-year period from 1997 to 2014, Maryland’s economy grew by $106 billion (constant dollars), of which our state highway system contributed nearly $4.25 billion to the economic growth due to its operational aspects.

Every year, on average, the highway system contributes nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to Maryland’s economy in terms of increased efficiency allowing trade of goods and services to reach their destinations. The loss of the Redline is tragic and with no real alternative plan will continue to hinder Baltimore City’s ability to move people efficiently across the region. However, the improvements in the highway system will enable Maryland to continue its economic growth, and perhaps that increased prosperity can be used to address some of our transportation challenges.

Ellen Bast


Baltimore has recently been in the press for a lot of the wrong reasons. Many of the challenges facing the city have an especially significant impact on the young people living at the epicenter of the tumult. Combined with the end of the school year and the disruption in schedules, there is the potential for further conflict to develop.


School may be out, but that doesn’t mean that the youth of Baltimore City are dismissed for summer. In light of the unrest and tension affecting the city, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, with the backing of the business community and state government, has grown the city’s YouthWorks program to support 8,000 summer jobs for young people ages 14 to 21.


YouthWorks Connects Young Workers with Employers

The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development has run the YouthWorks program, which connects youth workers with nonprofit and local government employers, for over 30 years. Mayor Rawlings-Blake expanded the program to include private-sector work sites via the Hire One Youth campaign to provide additional opportunities to Baltimore’s youth population. YouthWorks participants complete five-week employment experiences and earn at least the minimum wage of $8.25 per hour. Funding for the program for 2015 came from a variety of sources, including $1.7 million from the city, $2.3 million from the governor’s office, $1 million from the Maryland Department of Human Resources, $3.5 million from foundations, and $1.5 million from corporate and individual donors. Interestingly, though individual donors only contributed a total of $16,000 to the program, many of these donations came from community members giving $25 or $50, an indication of community support for the program.


There are approximately 700 program-related employment sites around Baltimore City, including the Baltimore City Police Department, the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health Systems, the Baltimore Sun Media Group, the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Participants were also placed with the public/nonprofit partnership Art@Work: Sandtown, which put young residents of Sandtown-Winchester to work creating murals in their neighborhood and provided the teens with a safe and constructive outlet to express themselves. In addition to gaining work experience, YouthWorks participants complete financial education classes. The Maryland Transit Administration also distributed free passes for some participants’ commutes.


YouthWorks Sandtown Mural

Youth employed by Art@Work: Sandtown completing a mural. Source: Jaclyn Borowski, Baltimore Business Journal.


Job Development Programs Provide Valuable Experiences

The benefits of the YouthWorks program are numerous. Obviously, young workers will earn paychecks and will have income to spend and ultimately support additional local jobs—at the movie theater, the mall, restaurants. The tasks that YouthWorks participants complete–from creating murals in West Baltimore to assisting in a hospital or public library—benefit society. Furthermore, the experiences that these participants gain will provide valuable lessons about interacting in a professional setting and will contribute to workforce development, even if workers choose not to pursue careers in the same fields as their summer work experiences. Research has shown that having a summer job in adolescence increases an individual’s lifetime earnings. Business leaders have also noted that their experiences with millennials give them a sample of what the future workforce may be like as well as give businesses the opportunity to tell schools about any potential skills gaps before those gaps become too pronounced.


Programs such as YouthWorks are important on a more philosophical level as well. YouthWorks gives its participants gainful employment over the summer when they otherwise might have limited opportunities. They are held to professional standards in a professional environment—an empowering and important life skill. The program also shows a renewed commitment to the success and well-being of the young people of Baltimore City, which is especially important given the events of the past several months.




Towson University has long emphasized its responsibility to the community through its mission, its strategic plan, and the work of its students, faculty, and staff. In the aftermath of the unrest in Baltimore, these university-community partnerships are more important than ever.

Recently, the Governor’s Office and the University System of Maryland requested information from universities in the greater Baltimore area about how they are working in Baltimore City. Luckily for Towson, we are in the midst of collecting information about our university-community partnerships through a new support system that was approved by the Vice Presidents in the spring. You can read more about the system here.

Since we were already gathering information about faculty- and staff-led partnerships, we were able to quickly respond to this request by providing information about which partnerships are doing work in Baltimore City and who the partners are. This information will help the Governor’s Office and the USM see what programs are already in place to help the city rebound, where there are gaps, and where there are opportunities for growth.

This is just one way that the Towson University-Community Relationships and Partnerships Support System will improve partnerships at TU. This new system will help us to be more responsive to future requests for current information. It will provide partnership support across campus so that we can extend our reach and our impact on the community.



A few years ago, I wrote a piece on the economic impact of the Orioles’ opening day. Little did I know that I would be following up with an analysis of postseason play. While I do not want to get ahead of myself, the prospect of—wait for it—being in the World Series confers additional economic impacts. October could be an economic boom to Baltimore City.


In postseason play, the percentage of out-of-town visitors increases at each game. Moreover, the closer the race, the bigger the crowds at local watering holes and hotels. Based upon some prior studies, we estimate that each playoff game that the Orioles participate in during the post season will support 50 annual FTE jobs, $3.3 million in state GDP, and about $350,000 in state and local tax revenues.


For cities in the postseason play, there are some additional economic benefits beyond the traditional ones mentioned above. Interestingly, these additional benefits may be driven by psychological factors. Some studies have indicated that postseason appearances actually increase productivity. An early study in this field determined that home teams’ victories actually resulted in increased production, while losses resulted in increased workplace accidents. Because of the timing of postseason play, a winning season may result in increased holiday spending by the fans. Finally, there is some evidence that charitable giving is higher in cities as a result of postseason appearances.


While the economic benefits of postseason play will be driven by increased hotel activity, restaurants, and paraphernalia as Baltimore is hosting some of the games, Baltimoreans will also be more productive, be less prone to workplace accidents, give more to charities, and spend more money over the holidays as a result of the Ravens postseason play. When the Orioles win the World Series, Baltimoreans may even see an increase in personal income. Regardless of these economic benefits, it will still be great to see a sign on I-95 reading, “Welcome to Baltimore, home of the World Series Champions, the Baltimore Orioles!” However, these impacts do not include the lost productivity due to the spike in absenteeism during the playoff. So, as they say, “Play ball!”



Acknowledgement: EdTech Maryland and the proposed future of education innovation and excellence in Maryland would not be possible without the following leaders: Andrew Coy, Jen Meyer, Jan Baum, Michael Baady, Frank Bonsal III, John Cammack, Bill Ferguson, Tom Sadowski, Katrina Stevens, and Vince Talbert.


In the U.S., North America, and around the Globe, education innovation clusters are popping up across the landscape to solve the 21st century’s toughest learning challenges. Some of these economic development clusters, moreover entrepreneurship hubs, will lead in ways that others cannot. Maryland is one of them.
Maryland, My Maryland


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An Overview. A couple of years ago, a few gray-haired, mission-driven Baltimoreans began to meet on a patterned basis to discern what we could do to induce and replicate education innovation and productivity in Baltimore, Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region. The interest grew virally to a point where a more formal task force made sense, and the Greater Baltimore EdTech Advisory Task Force was born. The task force met for a year and included over forty people and four committees, was led by an executive committee of 10 community leaders, including yours truly, and chaired by Andrew Coy, Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation. We tested the market by hosting with EdSurge the inaugural Baltimore Tech for Schools Summit in February 2014. We discerned there were identifiable, sustained pockets of PK-20 innovation in the city and around the state and that it was time to congeal, laud and replicate success accordingly. With the learner or education professional at the fore, it was time to matter-of-factly connect the dots and layer effectiveness thereon. We announced EdTech Maryland at the Tech for Schools Summit and have been building momentum ever since. A June 2014 article by GettingSmart’s Tom Vander Ark endorsed and encapsulated our efforts and attributes.


Image: 39 Things We’ll Miss About Patriarchy, Which Is Dead, by @kstoeffel, New York Magazine

Image: 39 Things We’ll Miss About Patriarchy, Which Is Dead, by @kstoeffel, New York Magazine

‘Mind’ the Patriarchs.
As positive and fired up as we were for this endeavor, we also knew we needed to deal with the inevitable patriarch problem. We knew or thought that the old guard simply would not or could not dig in for a twenty year ecosystem build that was not controlled by certain entrenched leaders. We knew that a smaller metropolitan region must be cognizant of and interoperate with existing ecosystem assets. In short, learning from and lauding the past, we set out to grow an open, inclusive, grass roots approach to education innovation.


We also needed to start with the right full-time person who could catalyze the effort. With a deep background in teaching, media and advisory services all pegged to the education mission, Katrina Stevens was the logical, most energized and connected candidate for the role of executive director. Below is a recent dialogue I had with Katrina.


Inaugural logo (hashtag) of EdTech Maryland

Inaugural logo (hashtag) of EdTech Maryland


Frank: What is EdTech Maryland?


Katrina: EdTech Maryland is a nonprofit enterprise whose mission is to drive and support excellence in education innovation and to foster an ecosystem that includes all stakeholders. EdTech Maryland has three main initiatives: 1) a research consortium, 2) convening and supporting events, and 3) some minor policy advocacy.


Frank: What are some differentiating qualities to Maryland’s education ecosystem? How does EdTech Maryland plan to laud and capitalize on these? Why now?


Katrina: Maryland, more than any other ecosystem I’ve seen, truly cares about the double bottom line — yes, we do believe that it’s important for companies to be sustainable — but it deeply matters to this community that these solutions improve student and teacher outcomes. EdTech Maryland will identify effective solutions and help to scale them so that more students and professionals benefit.


The Greater Baltimore region already hosts business and social enterprise incubators that support economic growth at scale. We rank in the top few states in the country for excellence in education. We’re also unique in that within a short distance, we have a broad range of schools — public, private, urban, suburban, and rural — each with their own challenges. This makes us an ideal region for documenting how innovative practices lead to improved outcomes in different groups of students.


Our capacity as a collaborative community is unsurpassed. When entrepreneurs come here — and we’ve already had two companies move from NYC — the local entrepreneurial community embraces them and opens up their rolodexes. To get things accomplished, we frequently pool resources to make something happen.


Frank: Where do you start building EdTech Maryland — and why?


Katrina: In some ways, we’re tackling the difficult problem first. We know we can continue to serve as a convener, to host events that support our mission, which we’ll do. What’s much more difficult however is figuring out how to design and implement short cycle feedback systems to help the larger edtech community understand where products are in their development and what degree of promise they hold. We need to broaden the definition of research to incorporate the rapid iterations happening in the startup community and the changing needs of our students. Partnerships with higher education and districts will be key to our success.


Frank: Who are the key players?


Katrina: We need partners from all elements of the larger ecosystem: the business community, higher ed, districts, independent schools, government, incubators/accelerators, parents and other community organizations. We have begun partnerships with Towson University and Johns Hopkins and are pleased to have the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore in supporting our early development and operations needs. The EdTech Maryland Executive and Advisory Boards will soon be announced, as will our follow-on Tech for Schools Summit, which was so popular with educators earlier this year.


Frank: Speaking of key players, why are you the one to connect the dots and further architect a robust edtech ecosystem in Maryland?


Katrina: My background provides me the good fortune to see the ecosystem from many different positions. The first 20 years of my career was spent in classrooms — I worked in higher ed, then was a teacher and administrator, working in both public and private schools. I also co-founded an edtech startup, have written about the edtech space for EdSurge, and have served as a consultant on a wide range of projects across the edtech ecosystem. My recent work as EdSurge Summit Director has taught me how to help entrepreneurs and educators work together so that everyone benefits, especially the students.


I’m passionate about helping bring people together across the ecosystem to work together toward common goals.


Frank: What does the Maryland education ecosystem resemble in 2020?


Katrina: I envision an integrated system where schools and entrepreneurs are working together seamlessly to provide better solutions for our schools. EdTech Maryland will become the gold standard for evaluating early stage products and innovative practices. Schools will trust our measurements and evaluations and will use them to make decisions about what will work best for their schools. We’ll also be the go-to place for anyone interested in finding out information about what’s important in the larger community. EdTech Maryland will serve as a trusted advisor for the whole community.


So, here we go with a Baltimore-based startup nonprofit whose sole mission is to enhance and imbue the best attributes of the learning and leading process in Maryland’s education ecosystem. With the energy, wisdom and productivity of Katrina and some of the players she is aggregating, odds are very good that Maryland’s education ecosystem is one to watch.



The usually quiet Monday after the long Fourth of July weekend—a day for downtown Baltimore to recuperate from the crowds, festivities, and celebratory revelry of democracy. Unless, of course, Queen Bey is taking over M&T Bank Stadium.


As part of the combined “On the Run” tour featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the power couple performed at the M&T Bank Stadium to a sold-out crowd of excited fans. The downtown venue was just one of sixteen stops for this summer’s tour, which attracted concert-goers from near and far.


Image credit: CBS Baltimore


Here at RESI, we analyze the economic impacts of various programs and events, and last month’s Beyoncé/Jay-Z concert had a definite impact on Baltimore’s economy. With ticket prices ranging from $40.50 to $251 for general admission seats and premium seats going for roughly $500 per ticket, ticket sales alone for the sold-out stadium of 70,000 represented a huge economic impact. Combine these data with concert-goers grabbing dinner downtown before the concert, paying for parking, and buying souvenirs—that’s a lot of money changing hands in just one evening. And keep thinking about it—someone had to sell those Beyoncé t-shirts and oversized programs. The electricity bill for the stadium included the power needed to show the Beyoncé/Jay-Z video interludes, and this required electricians and tech people at the stadium to ensure that everything transitioned smoothly. Outside the concert, servers who received extra tips from the increased crowds have extra cash to spend. If anyone drove on a toll road to get to the concert or travelled from far away and spent the night at a local hotel, there’s more money circulating in the local economy.


In fact, the economic impact of large headline concerts such as “On the Run” has been the topic of numerous academic studies. In their 1997 paper, Gazel and Schwer estimate the economic impact of a 1995 Grateful Dead concert on Las Vegas. While not a perfect point of comparison to Baltimore’s Beyoncé/Jay Z concert, the framework outlined in this paper as applied to the July show suggests that, at a conservative estimate, the estimated economic impact was over $11 million, with more generous estimates of the economic impact from the single concert being closer to $18 million.


Image credit: Baltimore Sun


Another way to analyze the concert’s impact is to bring the analysis closer to home. Let’s consider the M&T Bank Stadium’s main occupant, the Baltimore Ravens. Ticket prices are comparable, and much like the Beyoncé/Jay Z concert, Ravens games draw huge crowds of dedicated fans to the stadium, attract visitors to Baltimore’s downtown area, and are featured in both local and wider media. I would argue that the concert, a one-night engagement, as opposed to the Ravens’ full-length season of home games, is more comparable to a playoff game held at the stadium. Luckily, for our purposes, estimates of the economic impact of Ravens playoff games already exist. Estimates from 2013 indicate that a single Ravens playoff game would have a total estimated impact of $20 million. That’s quite a lot of money, especially for a two-hour football game or show.


Clearly, the Beyoncé/Jay Z show had more of an impact than entertaining its 70,000 attendants. Given the far-reaching economic effects for Baltimore, it is safe to say that, in the words of the Queen herself, “Who runs the world [or at least local economies during her tours]?” Beyoncé.



Having lived in Wales for the past nine years, I am a recent transplant to the Towson area. As is the case with many people who have recently moved, I often explain my current location and my previous location by referencing the largest city in each respective area—Baltimore and Cardiff. The interesting thing about these two cities is their interconnected history, which I have become quite familiar with over the last year. Despite their size difference, the similarities between these two cities have been recognized by travelers, bloggers, and academics for years.


As a result, for my first blog post as a new member of the Towson University community, I thought that the best way to introduce myself and my research interests (hint hint: regional economic development) would be to focus on the use of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as a model for the regeneration and long-term economic development of Cardiff Bay. Historically, both cities were based around active ports, which were importing and exporting goods to and from the local area as well as from farther afield. Interestingly, at similar points in time, both ports were actively exporting coal that was mined in the surrounding area.


In the case of Cardiff, coal was mined in the South Wales Valleys, transported by rail to Cardiff Bay, and distributed globally by water. At the end of World War I, Cardiff Bay was considered the largest coal port in the world. A decline in production followed World War II. Since the Thatcher era (1980s), the South Wales Valleys’ coal production declined significantly and has more or less ceased in the whole of the region.  With the decline in coal production came the decline of the docklands area in Cardiff Bay. Currently, the main port facilities for the wider region are located in Milford Haven, West Wales, which boasts important routes to the Middle East due to the transport of liquefied natural gas.


In the case of the Port of Baltimore, coal was (and still is) a major export industry. Coal travels by rail from mines and production facilities both within and outside the state to the port and is then distributed globally. Due to its geographic placement on the Eastern seaboard, the Port of Baltimore has been a key part of a popular shipping route that has been in continuous use since the early-1900s through the present. The port facility makes a considerable economic contribution to the state, with the movement of 36.7 million tons of international goods that have an economic value of approximately $60 billion. In addition to the existing economic activity, the opportunity for increased use of the Port has opened up due to the recent expansion of the Panama Canal.


Similar to the regeneration of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the 1960s, Cardiff Bay underwent a regeneration 20 years later. The regeneration of Cardiff Bay began in the late 1980s with the aim of increasing employment, commerce, and tourism in the former docklands area. In addition, the regeneration had the overarching goal of linking the city with the seaside area used by the previous port facilities. Based on the successful regeneration of a similar port area (both in size and scope) in the case of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the local government of Cardiff decided to model its efforts on the Inner Harbor. Through a public-private partnership estimated at $4 billion, the same horseshoe-shaped design was planned and implemented in the mid-1990s. However, with the some of the strongest tides in the world, the Cardiff Bay project also included the construction of a 0.75-mile barrage to ensure that the water level within the Bay remained stable for maritime activities. The construction of this lock system was estimated at $180 million. These two components—the spatial regeneration and the barrage construction—worked together to recreate the Inner Harbor in Wales and promote the tourism industry and, more recently, the creative industry in the region.


The Inner Harbor and Cardiff Bay

Baltimore Inner Harbor Cardiff Bay - Wales
Inner Harbor – Image credit: Greg Pease Photography Cardiff Bay – Image credit: Visit Britain

The regeneration efforts in Cardiff Bay have been the gift that keeps on giving to the regional economy of Cardiff. Building on the success of the tourism industry, the major universities clustered in the wider Cardiff area, and the proximity of major TV and film studios to the Bay, Cardiff Bay has also emerged as a creative industries powerhouse that is now the home to the BBC Drama Village and other major creative firms. One of the main reasons that these creative entities were interested in the Bay was due to the space, the tourism-related industries, and the view—none of which would have been possible without the design-led regeneration from the 1980s.


susan steward


Baltimore has long been in a state of transformative flux. The late 1950s gave rise to a growing desire to leave urban areas for suburban ones. Baltimore was one of many urban causalities; recent population estimates for city residents has yet to match that of the late 1950s. However, new economic incentives could reverse this trend.


High and long-term unemployment has been a problematic issue for Baltimore for several years. As of 2013, Baltimore had the third highest unemployment rate in Maryland, at 10.1 percent, well above the national average for 2013. A paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) noted that unemployment among lower paid workers could be decreased if labor opportunities within their respective regions were increased, supporting the belief that spatial mismatch can lead to long-term unemployment.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

What is spatial mismatch?
It occurs when location of low-skilled, low-wage jobs is so far from the potential employment base that long-term unemployment within urban areas occurs creating a mismatch between employment opportunities and employee availability. The theory was formulated around the rise of suburbia after World War II. Essentially, demand increased for suburban living, and demand for shopping in those areas also increased. Businesses that once thrived in the city began to move away to be closer to their customer bases. Overall, the flight of these employers resulted in a decrease in the availability of lower-skilled, relatively low-wage jobs in cities.


Census records of Baltimore’s population from the 1900s to the present outline this specific trend, with record high population for the city in the 1950s, followed by declines through the 1960s with minor increases in the last twenty years. Getting back to spatial mismatch, the theory suggests that long-term unemployment and joblessness among lower paid workers is attributable to the following factors:

  1. Cost of traveling,
  2. Information accessibility about job openings, and
  3. Search incentives for jobs farther away.

What initiatives are being used to combat spatial mismatch?
Looking at Baltimore’s current dynamics, we find that there are opportunities for public transit to lower travel costs for these lower paid workers. Information about jobs openings is becoming more easily accessible through One Stop Career Centers promoted by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. As for search incentives, Baltimore has plans to further expand its rail lines while also continuing to offer business tax credits for companies to develop mixed-use and residential areas in the city. The tax credits offered to businesses are aimed at shortening the distance between employee and employer within Baltimore.


Some of these credits are being utilized to redevelop the Baltimore area. Employment opportunities from new businesses such as the Horseshoe Casino as well as the redevelopment of Old Town Mall are on the horizon, in part from these newly developed opportunities. Additionally, companies are seeking to become part of the city’s culture. A few names include Columbia-based Pandora, First National Bank, R2Integrated, and Lupin Pharmaceuticals.  If this trend continues, Baltimore might be on track for an economic renaissance in the near future. As the gap begins to close, the potential for lowering unemployment durations within the city may increase with these new opportunities.

Image credit: Bmore Media

Image credit: Bmore Media



Over the last few months, Baltimore has welcomed two new seed stage companies that moved here from New York City. These two companies happen to both be edtech companies and are both focused on changing the game in two different and innovative ways. They also both happen to be members of the Towson University incubator. Their moves are neither random nor personal but for all the right reasons.

Enter Citelighter and Three Ring, two seed stage companies with teams singularly focused on changing the way teachers and students learn and administer the same, at critical, authentic slices of learning.
Citelighter is focused on research curation and writing pedagogy or as they say “Bringing research, organization, and writing to one place.” As a decade-long English teacher, one who endeavored to leverage the best attributes of the writing process movement, I see the magic in the platform and its ability to transform efficiency and quality of output.

Three Ring captures, curates and imbues broad learning artifacts for qualitative analysis. There is nothing more genuine to discern progress than true learning artifacts, whether captured by the individual, a peer or a teacher. Talk about intrinsic motivation and big data waiting to happen…

Both Citelighter and Three Ring are focused on classroom usage. Both have decent, evolving reporting functionality. Both have a freemium approach to growth. Both have found Baltimore as a very strategic place to build their companies.


Why Baltimore?
In terms of location, company culture, ease of commute and quality of life, Citelighter has chosen to headquarter at Betamore in the charm of Federal Hill; the thriving community at Baltimore’s newest entrepreneurship hub was a good fit with Citelighter’s cultural aspirations. Three Ring is still discerning a more permanent landing spot but leaning toward downtown Baltimore, perhaps closer to the vibe in Harbor East. Team members in both cases are either virtual (outside Baltimore) or within short walk, bus or drive to company hub. Local is everything when you’re building your dream. As Teddy Roosevelt opined, you ‘Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.’


Okay, but these two companies did NOT move to Baltimore because of amenities, right? Correct. Baltimore and Maryland have a very unique and increasingly powerful nexus of attractive attributes for edupreneurs. We have innovative end users, mentor and investor support, policy experts, and an education system that is willing to partner with young, innovative companies. At last weekend’s EdSurge Baltimore event, the Greater Baltimore EdTech Advisory Task Force announced the launch of EdTech.Md and several initiatives critical to the growth and sustainability of an evolving edtech ecosystem.


Towson University’s EdTech Ecosystem
One critical piece of EdTech.Md and why Towson University was a sponsor of the recent EdSurge event is the need for an industry expert mentor network to support companies and the leaders within. This network is born and managed by Towson University’s incubator and recently attracted Citelighter and Three Ring to join as associate or virtual members, joining Immersive 3D as TU’s first edtech member. Akin to what long time tech mentor and venture investor Brad Feld says here, we embrace mentor whiplash in Baltimore, more specifically the TU incubator. You just give, no matter what. Time, talent, treasure, whatever you can give, you do because this is what makes an ecosystem work and why we at Towson University are a critical and growing part of the edtech ecosystem in Maryland.