Ellen

Ellen

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.
 

ontherun

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.
 

beyonce2

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.


Julie

Julie

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.

 

Cardiff
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.

 

Baltimore
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

Susan

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.
 

800px-Bmore_skyline_inner_harbor

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


Frank

Frank

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_logo
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-logo
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.


Frank

Frank

Some people ask me Why Baltimore? Couldn’t you do what you do from anywhere in the U.S.? Isn’t this the place where the acclaimed HBO series The Wire was filmed? Has Baltimore ever been on a tech entrepreneur-friendly list? Aren’t there more voluminous entrepreneurial hubs? While the concise response is pegged to an authentic and ever-congealing entrepreneurial ecosystem more focused on the act of doing (the scoreboard) than a Top Ten List, the more interesting answer is found in an array of professional and personal attributes. Let me paint a picture as to why Baltimore is a great city to build a business, a career, a life.

 

Baltimore has a nearly three hundred year history of resilience and determination. What many do not grasp is that Baltimore is a top twenty U.S. city by population with a small town feel. Okay Cheers (“Where Everybody Knows Your Name”) was set in Boston but could easily have been at Mother’s in Federal Hill or John Stevens in Fells Point. But while Baltimore was once the towering urban hub over its Potomac River cousin, the District of Columbia, it is now a federal feeder of sorts. While it was once a thriving manufacturing, railroad and port town, a conduit for most things Midwest, now the maker movement portends to enliven some manufacturing roots but is well overshadowed by service orientation at the feet of university, healthcare and federal institutions.

 

Fort McHenry, where, in 1814, the Star Spangled Banner was invoked. Credit: Tim Tadder/Maryland Office of Tourism

Fort McHenry, where, in 1814, the Star Spangled Banner was invoked. Credit: Tim Tadder/Maryland Office of Tourism

Music & the Arts
Baltimore has a rich and continuous history of supporting and imbuing music and the arts. From the Peabody Institute and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to the Modell Center at the Lyric Opera, Baltimore ‘gets’ classical music across at least two centuries. In 2008, the Rolling Stone chose Baltimore as the best music scene in the Country, not for classical but for contemporary music. For the visual arts, MICA, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum have international renown. The more recent Visionary Arts Museum depicts Baltimore’s unique acceptance of the macabre. Even the rich film scene has long utilized Baltimore; Baltimoreans Barry Levinson (Diner, Tin Men, Avalon) and John Waters (Hairspray and Serial Mom) are some of the main reasons Baltimore has attracted many Hollywood and New York filmmakers.

 

Baltimore Museum of Art. Credit: Broken Plate Pendant Co

Baltimore Museum of Art. Credit: Broken Plate Pendant Co

Sports
No city is complete without a lively sports offering. Baltimore has long been a baseball and football town; after ‘replacing’ the Colts with the Ravens and a vastly improved performance by the Orioles, the citizenry cheers loudly again. We’ve had long tenures with baseball hall of famers such as Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson , Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Frank Robinson.

 

On the gridiron in two organizations over a decade apart, we cheered on several championship teams by the likes of Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry and have been amazed by the Ravens rise to prominence on the backs of legends such as Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden. These men and others are indelible reasons why Baltimore has tenacious sports fans and whose teams are apt metaphors for the city’s style: A never give in mentality, the underdog, the lesser respected opponent. Of course, there is also great college and high school lacrosse and acclaimed horse racing, not to mention Baltimore as the birthplace of Babe Ruth and Michael Phelps who did fairly well in their own right.

 

Neighborhoods
At its essence, what truly defines the City of Baltimore is its neighborhoods. The residential and workplace hubs are charming in places, desolate in others. Each of Baltimore’s 300+ officially designated neighborhoods has its own uniqueness, authenticity that, in aggregate, produces a diverse and distributed urban community, adorned with crime and tattered building in in places, vibrant, safe and family-centric in others. Baltimore is a very real depiction of an urban U.S. city struggling with the tension of right versus wrong, affluence versus poverty, at the center of a 2.7 million metro region.
 

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Charles Village neighborhood. Credit: Greater Homewood Community Corporation’s Healthy Neighborhoods program

Johns Hopkins University
As in most mature urban centers, institutions of higher education play a critical part of Baltimore’s economy, its cultural legacy. Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital are world renowned and together are the largest single employer in the city. The University of Maryland at Baltimore, the University of Baltimore, Loyola University Maryland and other postsecondary institutions have long been key determinants of sustainability and intellectual and social design for the region.

 

Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech)
The Greater Baltimore metro area has a several decades long history of tech company incubation, pegged to government and university economic development, as well as out of private and corporate coffers. The first Maryland business incubator, today called Mtech, was founded in 1983 at the University of Maryland, College Park’s Clark School of Engineering.

 

Maryland Business Incubation Association
The Maryland Business Incubation Association, Maryland TEDCO and Maryland DBED (Department of Business and Economic Development) indicate that the State has over 20 incubators, 7 in greater Baltimore. Since 2002, Maryland incubators have created nearly 12,000 jobs, the fifth largest job producer in Maryland.

 

bwtech @ UMBC Research and Technology Park
UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) created bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park in 1989 and has led the way for scaled university incubation, particularly in cyber security with the 2011 launch of its Cyber Incubator.

 

Emerging Technology Centers (ETC)
The Baltimore Development Corp-backed ETC (Emerging Technology Centers) began in 1999, at the run-up of the dot-com bubble, and has proven sustain worthy with graduate winners such as CSA Medical, Millenial Media, Moodlerooms, R2 Integrated, Straighterline, and Visicu. The ETC has two sites: one at the old Eastern High School, the south side of the site of former Memorial Stadium and a new site in Highlandtown in an economic zone.

 

Towson University/TowsonGlobal
In a partnership with Baltimore County in 2007, Towson University launched Towson Global Business Incubator, with an international differentiation and very definite interoperability with the TU undergraduate population. A more recent tilt to edtech, born largely by yours truly, provides two legs of a generalist incubator eight miles north of downtown Baltimore, serving Baltimore County and points north.

 

Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship
Howard County Economic Development launched the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in 2011 and is showing the fruits of thoughtful design and implementation with the 2013 launch of 3D Maryland and the Conscious Venture Lab.

 

Betamore
A group of private investors and entrepreneurs launched Betamore in 2012 to much acclaim. The ‘incubator’ is more of a community and adult training hub for all things tech than a classic business incubator. Betamore has attracted over over twenty seed and early stage businesses since inception and is a key cog in the Federal Hill and Baltimore Inner Harbor entrepreneurial community.

 

Maryland TEDCO & Baltimore Angels Network
Alongside the formal incubator community is an active and ever-growing seed funding and mentor community. Angels are diffuse but dozens are active in the Baltimore Angels Network. With regard to angels, Baltimore is more about who you know than where to go. Of course, the incubator network, a slew of meetups, and Maryland TEDCO, the Propel Baltimore Fund and the Maryland Venture Fund and the Invest Maryland Challenge as part of Invest Maryland and are valid destinations for the right seed or late seed stage equity or grant opportunities.

 

Under Armour, Bill Me Later, and Advertising.com
Baltimore has produced many inspirational stories of entrepreneurship and personal disruption, of the socioeconomic and social impact journey going from a little to a lot. Since the dot-com downturn, Baltimore has availed such winning stories as Kevin Plank (UnderArmour), Vince Talbert (Bill Me Later, now GiveCorps), Scott Ferber (Advertising.com, now Videology), and Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore, stealth startup). Baltimore represents a gritty city where entrepreneurial intent can put a dent in the world, can be the hub of most things right with the world.

 

On the personal side of Why Baltimore, there’s a longer story to be told that stems from more of the give, than the get. Simply put, my return to Baltimore ten years ago has availed a successful career as an edupreneur and more recently a facilitator of university entrepreneurship. Most of all, this Charming Gritty City and its concentric rings have provided an environment from which to build and grow career, family, friendships for the long haul. For that, I am eternally thankful.


Daraius

Ah, the New Year is upon us and spring is nearly here. While Baltimore is still basking in the afterglow of its Cinderella Football season and Super Bowl XLVII win, gas prices have been steadily rising to the point where they now account for nearly 4% of the average household income, or nearly $3,000. However, many households have not fully realized how much they are spending on gasoline. This is the highest amount since 2008 that households have spent on gasoline. I recently spoke to Fox about this very issue. The current percentage of expenditures on gasoline is still lower than the 1980s, where it surpassed 5% of household income, but this was the decade of the Yugo, K-cars, big hair, and mullets. So, maybe it was better that we spent more on gasoline as our taste in fashion and cars left a lot to be desired.

 

In 2008, the freeways and gas stations were choked by behemoth SUVs that had single-digit or low-teen MPG, while today the freeways run amok with hybrid and other high-mileage cars. In spite of this sea change in cars, we are still paying nearly 4% of our household income on gasoline purchases. What is even more vexing is that we are now a net exporter of energy, and some have indicated that we could be energy independent by 2020. So, how is it that gas prices seem to rise with no end in sight?

 

Image credit: Digital Art

There are several national and international forces that are driving up the price of gasoline here in Baltimore (and the rest of the nation).

  1. The refining capacity in the U.S. is near its maximum. As a result, shutdown of a refinery due to maintenance or an industrial incident will have an impact on gas prices. As it is, a fire in a refinery in the Midwest has pushed up prices. In the northeast, the refinery capacity is more acute. Unfortunately, like wind power, refinery infrastructure is never where it is needed most.
  2. Both the U.S. economy and the world economy are recovering, which means there is an increase in demand for energy not only here but in China and India, further pushing up the price of gasoline.
  3.  Many refineries are switching over to the summer blend of gasoline, which also constricts the supply of gasoline currently and pushes up gas prices.

Looking ahead, the prospect for significantly lower gas prices does not look good. However, my prognosis for the Orioles winning the World Series is much better.


Daraius

For the second time in team franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens are going to the Super Bowl.  That sentence has such a wonderful ring to it that it’s worth repeating.  For the second time in team franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens are going to the Super Bowl.  Moreover, the Raven’s path to Super Bowl involved three “win or go home” playoff games against formidable opponents. So, aside from civic pride and serious bragging rights—that’s right Patriots, Broncos, and Colts—are there any economic impacts associated with playoff appearances and Super Bowl appearances?  Fortunately, these questions have been answered by other economists.  And the answer is yes, there are.

Baltimore, MD — 1/23/12 — The Ravens logo is seen on Federal Hill a week before they head for New Orleans to play in Super Bowl XLVII. Photo by Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun

In the past, many economic impact analyses focused on the economic benefits accruing to the host city, be it a playoff game or the Super Bowl.  While there is some contention that the economic impacts may not be as great as civic boosters would suggest, there are some.  However, an area that has only been recently examined is whether or not there any economic benefits for cities with teams in postseason play that are not hosting any postseason games.

 

For teams in the postseason play, there are some economic benefits.  Not so obvious is that these 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 victories by the home team 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.

 

Ravens Super Bowl Jerseys | Image credit: BaltimoreRavens.com

While it is great that a city’s team is in postseason play, are there any additional economic impacts associated with winning the Super Bowl?  Arguably, the spending by fans on home team sports paraphernalia related to postseason play would have been money spent in the region anyway.  And the increase in income by those vendors is probably matched by decreases in other vendors.   However, according to a study by Dr. Coates and Dr. Humphreys at UMBC, there is a one-time gain in per capita personal income of about $140.

 

While the economic benefits are not driven by increased hotel activity, restaurants, and paraphernalia as Baltimore is not hosting the Super Bowl, Baltimoreans will be more productive, less prone to workplace accidents, give more to charities and have spent more money over the holidays as a result of the Ravens postseason play.  When the Ravens win the Super Bowl, Baltimoreans may even see an increase in personal income.  Regardless of these economic benefits, it still will be great to see a sign on I-95 reading,  “Welcome to Baltimore, home of the two-time Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens!”


Daraius

Throughout the history of Baltimore and Maryland, there have been many long-standing traditions and venues that have gone by the wayside as well as many familiar faces we have lost.  Remember the days of streetcars running in Baltimore,  shopping at Hutzler’s department stores, going to the Enchanted Forest Theme Park , dining at Haussner’s  Restaurant surrounded by the vast number of paintings, attending a game at Memorial Stadium or even catching a glimpse of Mayor Schaeffer in and around the city?  In the land of pleasant living, the loss of these icons of our past makes us feel less special – as if a piece of us is gone for good.  Granted there may be new icons replacing these lost icons, but it is far from the same.

Every spring as the flowers bloom and the smell of fresh cut grass fills the air, all of Maryland becomes acutely aware that Preakness is around the corner.  This year will mark the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.  While this event has become less about the actual horse race and more about an event to be seen at, it is still, at its essence, an important part of Maryland’s history as well as our national history.  It is after all, the second leg of the crown jewel of Thoroughbred horse racing, the Triple Crown.  Not only is this event nationally broadcasted, it generates a great deal of economic activity from the millineries to the horse breeders.  It is estimated that Preakness generates between $40 and $60 million dollars in economic activity annually. It also brings to the city anyone who is anyone in Baltimore’s (Maryland’s) social circles as well as college students who invade the infield more for the party than the horse race.  It is truly a unique Baltimore (Maryland) event.

While the Preakness Stakes is a highly visible event nationally and an economic boom to the industry, it just may not be enough by itself to continue to support the overall horse industry in Maryland.  Based upon published estimates, the economic impact of the horse industry is $1.6 billion, with over half of that generated through racing.   Every year, a renewed debate occurs regarding the status of the horse racing industry in Maryland.  Given the challenges the industry in Maryland faces, from larger purses in other states to the presence of slots and table games at these out of state horse racing venues, the industry is struggling.  This has manifested itself in the form of proposals to shorten the racing season as well as the closure of some venues.

While many may wonder whether horse racing in Maryland or Maryland’s horse industry fits in with our “Eds, Feds, Meds and Beds” economy, it not only fits in, it is one of the great icons that helps to define Baltimore and Maryland.  However, if we do not take deliberative action to preserve this industry, we may find that one of our last remaining icons is on the ash heap of history.


Daraius

As spring begins, the smell of pine tar, the crack of the bat, the thump of a well-caught ball and the whoosh of ball thrown on a rope will be filling the air.  Orioles Opening day is just around the corner.  Prognosticators fill the airwaves with their picks and pans for the upcoming season.  Which teams will make it to the World Series and which new hot prospect will get a call to the big show are questions many excited fans are asking themselves.  While these questions have usually been decided to a degree by September and in many cases are a disappointment to most fans, hope springs eternal on opening day.  Ahead lies 162 ball games and every team has a chance to get to the World Series.

Outside of the feeling of “anything is possible this season” or “dream the impossible dream”, what does opening day mean for Baltimore in terms of dollars and cents? There are several ways to illustrate the economic impact of opening day in Baltimore.  Drawing upon some of my own past research as well as work that Towson University completed on behalf of the Maryland Stadium Authority, there are several interesting findings.

In one of my papers, I examined the cost-benefits of a baseball stadium to a city.  Obviously, a winning team will attract more fans and attendance will go up.  Based upon my research, I found that

if a team increases its current year’s winning percentage by 10%,
attendance would rise by approximately 9.6%.

If the team had a strong finish in the prior season, then that will also influence the current year’s attendance, but its impact on attendance is less than half of the current year’s winning percentage.  While I did not explicitly examine an opening day effect on attendance, I suspect that since the season is a blank canvas and fans are full of hope, outside of playoff games, opening day attendance is likely to be among the highest in a team’s season.

Photo Credit: MLB - Oriole Park @ Camden Yards

In a recent Towson University study, the economic impact of the Orioles was estimated in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and taxes.  Over the entire season, the estimated impact of attendance at Camden Yards on Maryland’s GDP is approximately $175 million, while an estimated 2,500 annual FTE jobs are supported and over $18 million in state and local taxes are generated.  Based upon these data and the Orioles’ 2010 Opening day attendance (48,891), the impact of Opening Day on Maryland’s economy is estimated to be 50 annual FTE jobs, $3.3 million in GDP and about $350K in state and local taxes.  However, this does not include the lost productivity due to the spike in absenteeism on Opening Day.  So as they say, “Play ball!”


Clay

After much anticipation, the six finalists for TowsonGlobal’s first Business Plan Competition have been selected.  A number of diverse entrants submitted their executive summaries on February 7, and the final six were chosen from these by a panel of experienced business professionals, economic development personnel, and faculty.

They are:

  • Hem of HIS Garment, provider of customized fashion apparel and alterations for women
  • Knight Protection, Inc., provider of unique tactical protection services that enhance the overall security industry
  • Mocha, learning management system that delivers content logically, through an easy to use and dynamic web portal
  • My Hopeful Journey, web-based application that helps women manage their infertility treatment programs
  • PubRaiders.com, developer of mobile phone technology that allows bar patrons to purchase items through their smart phones
  • Pure Bang Games, developer of  Facebook games

TowsonGlobal’s goal is to strengthen entrepreneurship and innovation, so all entrants received constructive feedback from the judges.  Finalists will be able to integrate that input into their full business plans, which will be due by March 11.

Since a strong “pitch” is vital to a startup’s success, each company also will have the opportunity to present in front of a panel of university and business experts, on April 11. The winner will be selected that day and will receive free 90-day Resident membership with the incubator (valued at $5000), along with a cash prize!

The business plan competition is a great reflection of the diversity and innovative spirit in the Baltimore area.  TowsonGlobal is happy to be a part of these ventures’ road to success and is looking forward to giving the finalists all the support they need throughout the competition.