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Redefining Rust Belt: An Exchange of Strategies by the Cities of Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia
I recently attended two workshops, the first being “Redefining Rust Belt: An Exchange of Strategies by the Cities of Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia” hosted by the Baltimore office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Local leaders discussed Baltimore’s need to redefine itself in the wake of a recovering recession to attract new residents and investment. Strategies to increase competitiveness by strengthening economic, social and land use policies, leveraging and attracting a high quality labor force to existing assets such as major commercial and institutional anchors, and capturing baby-boomers and their spending through the provision of better housing and transportation options will drive the City’s transformation.


baltimore_data_day_2011_mediumBaltimore Data Day
Building on that momentum, I joined in a conversation at “Baltimore Data Day,” hosted by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicator Alliance-Jacob France Institute, to discuss uses for open source data. Open data, according to the Open Data Handbook, “is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone,” without restrictions. This is particularly powerful for municipal data, which can include anything from parking violations and potholes to vacant properties and crime data. OpenBaltimore is the pilot program undertaken by the City to provide access to such data that supports government transparency and nurtures innovative use to improve the lives of Baltimore residents, visitors and businesses.


The OpenBaltimore

The OpenBaltimore data catalog


How is RESI Utilizing Economic Development Principles from These Workshops?  
Baltimore is an exciting place for economic development, and RESI is equipped to position the region to capture that growth. RESI’s suite of expert economic development services has recently been expanded to include land use planning, sustainability, and spatial analysis. Tools employed by staff include zoning code analyses, comprehensive planning, sustainability planning, financial feasibility analyses, as well as urban revitalization strategies and GIS analyses. As an urban planner and economic developer, I’m pleased to blend solutions-oriented strategies to tackle some of Baltimore’s biggest urban problems.

Raquel Frye

It’s a new year and a chance for us to present our yearly outlook for the economy. The Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) hosted its 14th annual Economic Outlook Conference on February 16, 2011 at the BWI Hilton Hotel.  As in years past, the conference provided a platform to present RESI’s economic overview and forecast. The theme for this year’s conference was Are We There Yet? The phrase—commonly used by kids during long car trips—highlighted the question mark surrounding the economic recovery and our eagerness to finally bounce back from the woes that have afflicted over the last three years.

There are many indicators that help us gauge whether the economy is back on track and while many continue to show signs of distress (i.e. the labor market) the road ahead is looking a lot brighter than it was a year ago.  While we may not be “there” just yet, at least we know that we are not headed in the opposite direction anymore.  If you are interested in seeing the presentation and getting a little more detail please see this link.

As I indicated during my last post, this year, RESI participated in a crowd-sourcing activity that involved getting feedback from attendees regarding what they would do if they had power over fiscal, monetary and housing policies.   The top answers submitted by attendees were revealed family feud style.   In my opinion, it was a great opportunity to learn about what people feel are the best ways to tackle the significant challenges that we are facing. 

In addition to DECO staff, the program was composed of several other distinguished guests.  For instance, Robert Hannon, President and CEO of Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation welcomed us to Anne Arundel County with some facts and jokes.  Following the outlook presentation, Kathleen Snyder, President and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce gave us an overview of this year’s legislative session and the bills that the Chamber was supporting and opposing.  Last but not least, David Beck, Senior Vice President and Regional Executive and Robert Carpenter, Lead Financial Economist both from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond gave a very educational presentation about the Reserve’s dual mandate of promoting price stability and full employment.  They began their segment by giving a broad overview of the Reserve’s policy options and provided data and graphs to illustrate how the Fed’s balance sheet has evolved since the beginning of the recession. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed all the speakers that day, my favorite people that day were a group of extremely bright students.   As a special treat, we had several members of an AP Economics course from Arundel High School in attendance.  As someone who cares about economics education, I was delighted to see a group of students who seemed so genuinely interested in the presentations and eager to ask eloquent and thought-provoking questions.  I can only hope that we’ll be seeing these young people joining the ranks of economists in the near future!