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Exploring The City Beyond The Inner Harbor

 Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore
Baltimore Metropolitan Council
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Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore

On the latest episode of The Chesapeake Connect Podcast we’re talking about tourism in Baltimore. How is the city and the broader region working to encourage tourism, and especially to expand Baltimore tourism beyond the traditional center of downtown and at the Inner Harbor? And how has the tourism industry responded to the blows dealt to it by COVID-19?

We're joined by Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore.

Transcript

Tom Hall: Welcome to The Chesapeake Connect Podcast, I'm Tom Hall. Chesapeake Connect is an annual learning trip that brings together leaders from around Baltimore to explore best practices and programs and appear region. It's organized by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, the council of governments serving greater Baltimore. The council has organized trips to Cleveland, New Orleans and Nashville in recent years.

Today on The Chesapeake Connect Podcast, we're talking about tourism in Baltimore. How is the city and the broader region working to encourage tourism and especially to expand Baltimore tourism beyond the traditional center of it's downtown and at the Inner Harbor? And how has the tourism industry responded to the blows dealt to it by COVID-19? Joining us is Mayor Brandon Scott.

Mayor Scott was elected the 52nd mayor of Baltimore in November of 2020. Previously, Mayor Scott served as council president. Before that, he served on the City Council representing Baltimore second district. He was first elected in 2011 at the age of 27 and he's one of the youngest people ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. Mr. Mayor, welcome to The Chesapeake Connect Podcast.

Mayor Brandon Scott: Thank you. Thank you Tom. Glad to be here.

Tom Hall: Al Hutchinson is with us as well. Al Hutchinson is President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. That's the city's official destination sales and marketing organization. Al participated in the 2018 and 2019 Chesapeake Connect programs. Al, welcome to you as well.

Al Hutchinson: Hey, thanks so much, Tom. Glad to be here.

Tom Hall: So Mr. Mayor, let me start with you to set the stage for our conversation about tourism. From your perspective as the mayor, what does the tourism industry mean to the people of Baltimore?

Mayor Brandon Scott: For Baltimore, tourism means many things and I'll just talk about a few. First, when you think about external to the rest of the world is a way for people who are not from Baltimore and for us to understand and for us to share unique culture and spirit and city with the rest of the world. We are a one of a kind city like no other from our historic arts districts and the new one on Pennsylvania Avenue that we're going to bring back to as heyday and better to our wonderful restaurant scene and food that can't be rivaled anywhere else.

And I don't just mean seafood. We know that we have the best seafood, the best crab cakes, but when you think about pit beef and barbecue, all these other options, people know, visitors know when they visit Baltimore that they will have a true unique experience like no other. But tourism also means support for our residents. That revenue that's generated goes back into our community.

The tourism industry, hospitality is where many of our residents in Baltimore work and it allows them to showcase their unique talents and to grow into better things. For example, we know that Baltimore has a world renown R&B group known as Dru Hill named after Druid Hill park. And many of them started out singing at the old chocolate place in the Inner Harbor. That's the kind of the start that tourism industry has given to Baltimore and for many, many years.

Tom Hall: And Al Hutchinson, you run Visit Baltimore. That's the official destination and marketing organization for the city. Talk to us about what that means, what's your responsibilities generally speaking, what's the purview and portfolio of Visit Baltimore.

Al Hutchinson: Well, thanks Tom. And our chief job is to be the number one storytellers for Baltimore. So our teams are out there talking to visitors about all the beauty of Baltimore, all the great things we have to offer as a community both, and the mayor mentioned it, from historical perspective or culinary perspective, cultural perspective. What is it that makes our city that special? So we want to drive visitors here to have a great experience, to go to all of our great neighborhoods based on economic impact in our community, but really enjoy the city.

And so when they go back home, they can tell their family and friends to come back to see the city. But we also are the lead generator for the major conventions that come to Baltimore City. The conventions that use aisle, Baltimore Convention Center, those that use individual hotels, we're out there recruiting businesses to come to our community to have their meetings and conferences in our community. So we're telling those stories as well. And that's very important to get that outside conventioneer to come to our city instead of going to another city up and down the east coast.

But the mayor also nailed it when the aisle number one customer are our local residents. So it is extremely important for our organization to make sure we engage with our local residents here in Baltimore City as well as the regional residents and our five surrounding counties because we need for them to come to see us as well. Be excited about all the great City of Baltimore has to offer. So we are economic generator here in the city, but it's extremely important that people have a great experience so when they leave the city as a visitor, they tell the world that this is a great American city and they come back to visit us time and time again.

Tom Hall: And Mr. Mayor, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council launched this podcast because of the inability to do an in-person Chesapeake Connect trip last year because of COVID. So now the world is starting to open up again and BMC is planning a trip to Philadelphia in the fall. And I understand you're going to go on that trip. This'll be your first time participating in the program. What have you heard about it in the past? What are you looking forward to on this trip to Philly?

Mayor Brandon Scott: Well, this is about, these kind of trips are about learning best practices, learning from other cities and jurisdictions and figuring out ways to improve for us here in Baltimore. Of course, Philadelphia is a city that I am very familiar with. I have aunt that lives there, actually was there not too long ago, but really looking forward to learning. And that's what these trips are for me. These are learning opportunities to learn about how I can make Baltimore's government better to serve our residents and the folks that own businesses and operate businesses here that visit Baltimore.

That's what these kinds of trips are about for me. It's about the business of the city. It's about me as the city's leader learning and then incorporating things that we can improve here in Baltimore in a Baltimore way because we know things just can't be picked up and brought here. But we can learn best practices, have ideas, see a vision and then be able to bring that back to our city. And we appreciate BMC for organizing them.

Tom Hall: And now you participated in the Chesapeake Connect trips, went to both New Orleans and Nashville. Those are two cities known very much for their very distinctive brands. The mayor just did an excellent job earlier cheerleading and talking about the things that Baltimore has to offer. What did you learn on those trips to New Orleans and Nashville that can help Baltimore and has helped inform your approach to Visit Baltimore?

Al Hutchinson: Well, I think the key word that you used, Tom was distinctive and both New Orleans and Nashville are great brands. But one thing about each destination is New Orleans does not try to be Nashville nor does Nashville try to be New Orleans. Each one has carved out their own individual niche when it comes to travel and tourism and they promote those cities extremely well. So what I picked up going to both New Orleans and Nashville, my counterparts in those cities were very instrumental in the messaging that was delivered.

We came back to Baltimore and we've created a new rebrand, a new storytelling about Baltimore that's very distinctive. It's who we are. You'll see a lot of faces and voices to our new Baltimore rebrand. That's not like New Orleans and it's not like Nashville, but it's Baltimore. And I think these trips are extremely important to, you learn the great things that these communities have done, especially in the travel and tourism space.

You do not try to be like them, but you take some of the good they've done and then you bring it back to a community like Baltimore City so we can incorporate it into our DNA so we can voice and create the story that drives people to a special city like Baltimore. So these trips are extremely important. And I think it helps us to better position ourselves to drive visitation to Baltimore City.

Tom Hall: And Mayor Scott, if some leaders from another city called you tomorrow and said, we want to come up and check out Baltimore, what are the top three stops that you would put on a tour for folks coming to our city in the way that you're going to go to Philly on a Chesapeake Connect trip?

Mayor Brandon Scott: I'll answer the question in a unique way. Having hosted delegations of folks... Actually ironically, a few years back when I was on the council, I hosted a delegation from Philly and they didn't have a CitiWatch Camera Program. And I took them through and learn. They learned over 1,000, nearly had implemented one. But I always try to showcase the trueness of Baltimore, everything about Baltimore so that they understand. But everyone knows, Al knows this, we actually had our first post pandemic convention both from destination.

International last week, we have over 800, 900 people in Baltimore City as counterparts from around the country who had a wonderful, wonderful time. My favorite place in Baltimore is Oriole Park at Camden Yards because we know what their showcases for us in the city. We also, I like to brag about how every other ballpark is built after the Oriole Park at Camden Yards model. So I'll always like to start there. But then I like to do unique things. We always have to showcase our neighborhoods in a different way.

So I like to take folks up because when they've come to Baltimore, people who have been here, but they come here and they've been to the Inner Harbor, they've been to those places, but they never really been into our neighborhoods. So I often actually take them, Tom to where I grew up so that they can see where I came from and have a better understanding of me as a person. And then I take them to places like where I live in Northeast Baltimore of the showcase to them Morgan State so they can see it with their eyes.

But also you know I love Koco's crab cakes, taking them there. So when you travel throughout Baltimore on the routes to and from those three locations, we're also talking about the complete City of Baltimore and they can see everything and see that we're so much more than folks think we are.

Tom Hall: Yeah, that's a really good itinerary. Al, how about you? What are the top three stops that you'd want out of town city leaders to visit to get a taste of what Baltimore has to offer?

Al Hutchinson: Well, I want to go with the mayor on his tour because he's nailed it, the key spots. I want to follow the mayor. But I think the real key to this question, Tom and when you're talking to leaders, the question is what's important to them. And sometimes we think we know what's important to showcase, but we should also ask leaders, what are they looking for? So in asking him that question, I would think history would come up. They want to know history. Then obviously we have to show him Fort McHenry, one of the most special parks in the country that symbolizes great history in America that we can really show that piece of the puzzle.

But also from a history perspective, they may also want to see Pennsylvania Avenue because that's where black business really started here in this country. And we can show that significance of what Baltimore was all about during the time period, we can show the Royal Theater and show where the Billie Holiday Statue is from a historical perspective. But we also know that folks want to see the culinary scene pound for pound. The food scene in Baltimore City is unlike anywhere else in this country. It's strong.

But we can show all of the neighborhood food scenes here, not just Harbor East, but we can go to Hamden. We can go the Remington. We can go to Charles Station. We can really see a lot of the goodness that's happening. We do have the first public markets in this country. So we should be celebrating that and show Lexington Market to our fans and visitors coming into the city. And the last piece from a tourist standpoint is just the culture. These leaders want to see the rich culture of a community like Baltimore brings.

So from Reginald Lewis Museum, the great contributions of African American history here in Baltimore City and in Maryland, that should be showcased. Or we can go East Baltimore and really show the Great Blacks in Wax Museum. The African American contribution to culture and Baltimore should not be taken for granted. We should celebrate that. And we want to make sure that people know and feel the greatness of this city and the greatness of the contributions of African Americans to the culture of Baltimore City.

Tom Hall: Yeah, those are all great suggestions. And there are places like Great Blacks in Wax that people often sort of forget about. They don't think about that as a major stop on the tourism itineraries, but in fact, Dr. Martin up there has all sorts of folks coming in from all around the country. And Mayor Scott during your campaign, a real central part of your platform was investing in all of Baltimore's neighborhoods. I mean, you touched on this a little bit before, but let me ask you again. I mean, how does tourism fit into the revitalization of neighborhoods across the city?

Mayor Brandon Scott: Well, I think it plays a big role. And as we recover and rebuild from the pandemic, the revitalization of the tourism industry, it's going to be more important now than ever. But for me and I know that Al and his team understand and know this and have been doing that, that has to be done through a lens of equity. And this is about renewing our commitment to welcome visitors back to our entire vibrant city making this a place where residents and visitors like, can work, play and enjoy. But it's also about the perception and understanding of our city.

From beyond, as I'll say at the Inner Harbor, Harbor East, we have so much more to offer. And when you think about that history, Pennsylvania Avenue, when you think about the things that people want to see, people still come here. My friends from out of town, other cities have been here and they say, "Man, I remember I went to this museum in Baltimore. It had a lot of wax figures of black folks." And I said, "The Great Blacks in Wax." People love to get that.

And then knowing that their restaurants and businesses nearby like Terra Cafe and others that we can support, this helps us. And what Al and the team of Visit Baltimore has done a great job of incorporating that into the strategy, working with folks to make sure that people know that we have other destinations and other things that they can experience beyond the downtown region because that will help us be a more vibrant city. I'll just give you an example.

On Juneteenth, I was up in Reservoir Hill. And people came from all over the region to come to their Juneteenth celebration, thanks to the great folks at Dovecote. That's the kind of thing that we can showcase that other cities can not because they don't have still intact that deep culture connectivity to the original, authentic culture of Baltimore. We have to show that beyond the Inner Harbor.

But even as we reimagine what the Inner Harbor is, it has to, once again, showcase the true essence of Baltimore and we cannot allow it as we bring it back to be, we're going to bring cookie cutter restaurants and things from other places. We need to showcase the best of us because that's what we should be showcasing to the world.

Tom Hall: Yeah, and I can attest to the crowd that came to Reservoir Hill for the Juneteenth celebration, Dovecote Cafe is in the alley right behind my house. I mean, so I know how many folks were there and our family certainly enjoyed being part of that celebration as well. And Al Hutchinson, what's it going to take for Baltimore to make a citywide tourism destination? What are you concentrating on in your efforts to make tourism a citywide endeavor?

Al Hutchinson: What I believe Tom, one of the great strengths of Baltimore City in the travel and tourism space is our distinct neighborhoods. That's really the special sauce of Baltimore. And it's going to be very incumbent on my organization and others in Baltimore to be able to tell the richness of all that story. The new traveler and especially the travelers of color, those travelers are looking for a very authentic experience. They're not looking for cookie cutter.

And so the cities that will win in the future and I know Baltimore City is going to be one of those are the cities that can really tell the story of all the offerings from their great neighborhoods. So in our new rebrand, we're very much celebrating neighborhoods. Each neighborhood in Baltimore City, as you and the mayor know, are very distinct.

They have a different vibe, a different feel to them, different music, different food, but we want to make sure we're telling the story in different platforms, whether it's through our website, whether it's through social media, whether it's through print to push people to all these unique communities that they cannot see anywhere else in the United States. And coming out of COVID, that's going to be a play that we can win on as a community.

And I think that's going to be the richness of what we do moving forward to tell these great stories about our neighborhoods. And that's what we're going to do at Visit Baltimore tomorrow. We're going to double down on the neighborhood story because not only the neighborhood story, but a very inclusive story about all the richness of our communities and neighborhoods. And I truly believe that's how we can win in the travel and tourism space moving forward.

Tom Hall: And Mayor Scott, historically as you well know, much of the investment in tourism has focused on downtown. But as Al has just mentioned, that focus is now going to spread across all of our wonderful neighborhoods throughout the city. I mean, how do you assess the tension between downtown and the other neighborhoods when it comes to tourism? I mean, is this kind of tourism strategy? Is it an either or proposition, is it a zero sum game or is there a big enough tent for everybody?

Mayor Brandon Scott: The tent is big enough. It's not a zero sum game. It's not an either or, it's both. What we know is that we have invested in the tourism in historical sense in historical areas. What we haven't done is expanded that to the neighborhoods through our lens of equity, which we will be doing, which Al and his folks are doing because we know that that will help everyone. When people come in to Baltimore and they're visiting places and they want to stay, they're more likely to stay here if they know that there are larger things for them to do outside of the things that everyone knows for Baltimore.

And this doesn't have to be an either or, this is about how we can come together as a city and invest in places that have been forgotten, allow them to thrive, allow them to showcase their greatness. And the sum of that really, Tom is that we are showcasing the sum of Baltimore and showing again that Baltimore is a city like no other that we will broadcast and beat our chest about everything that's great about Baltimore, which is a positive thing for us all.

Tom Hall: And Al Hutchinson, I would imagine that promoting an entire city, all these different neighborhoods and the different things that each neighborhood offers is a real challenge. It's difficult to do that. It's a lot easier to say, here's the Inner Harbor. Is it the skyline beautiful or here's Camden Yards? There's a specific thing you do. How do you handle that? What are you doing to promote the entire city as a matter of tourism and destinations?

Al Hutchinson: Well, when I was hired here in Baltimore City, I knew on paper as well as from the search committee, my job was to sell Baltimore. It wasn't to sell any one particular neighborhood. So I think it's extremely important. I don't really see it as difficulty. I look at the downtown area as a neighborhood, but that's just one of over 250 neighborhoods in Baltimore. So we need to make sure from a Visit Baltimore perspective that we're carving out the beauty of all the neighborhoods and tell that story, not about one neighborhood, but all Baltimore City neighborhoods.

That's what we're going to do moving forward. However, we're going to do it in a little bit different way. I think it's extremely important to invite stakeholders, influencers, poets, writers, artists from Baltimore City to help us tell the story because they put a stake in the ground. They have small businesses here. They should be a part of the Baltimore story. So I think it's important that we reach out to those folks.

They are part of our new rebrand. It was extremely important to me to make sure we have faces and voices Baltimore in helping us to tell the beautiful story of Baltimore City. Not hire actors or actresses, but real Baltimorean. And I think that's going to be a separator for us moving forward. And we have a huge opportunity if we do it right, that we can get out in front of a lot of other communities that are really trying to figure out how they sell their particular city. So I think that's going to be beneficial to us in the next few years.

Tom Hall: And Mr. Mayor, with COVID, you've had a number of very difficult decisions to make. You've had to chart a difficult course between the concerns of businesses, particularly small businesses and then the public health realities of the pandemic. What have you learned so far that will inform your decision-making in the future? Because COVID is beginning to recede, but as we're seeing now as we speak, there are upticks not just here in Baltimore and in Maryland, but throughout the country and throughout the world in rates of infection. Moving forward, what have you learned so far and how will that inform your decisions in the future?

Mayor Brandon Scott: Well, first and foremost, Tom, I learned that again, that when you're dealing with something like we haven't seen in over a generation, that Baltimore comes together and wraps arms around itself. But we also know that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout was devastating for all of our communities, including our business community. And every decision that I made, I made in the best interest of what has to be thought about first and that's the preservation of life. The health and safety of the residents will always be the most important factor, any decision I make.

That said, we put a lot of work to ensure that our businesses had resources to make it, but also recover. And we'll be doing more of that and making sure, again, Tom, that we're doing that in a way of this, which is why you see for us such a high percentage of the grants that BDC gave out going to small women and minority owned businesses, who we know traditionally don't have access to those kinds of funds, but represents such a high number here.

Why Al and his team uses some of our local folks as they have not been used before and broadcasting Baltimore to make sure that that money is going to people who we know are hiring Baltimore instead of putting folks here to work. But also now that we're coming out and hopefully we continue to go that way, Tom. So the other side of it, it's about how we then invest in the business community to build back in a better way because we know that so many businesses, communities, people have been left behind in Baltimore for too long.

We have to create an ecosystem for them not to just survive, but thrive. And some of the things for example, our finals with Bloomberg and hopefully we get it where we had this program where we're helping our small businesses, our minority women owned businesses with technical assistance, it's about seeking funding and all of these things. We're going to continue to do that kind of work, but we're always going to make decisions that are in the best interest of people's health and safety because that's my chief responsibility.

Tom Hall: And Mr. Mayor building back better, that's got a nice ring to it. You might want to call the presidency if he wants to borrow that one. That's a good one. You might call him.

Mayor Brandon Scott: I borrowed it from him.

Tom Hall: And Al Hutchinson, all kidding aside, when it comes to businesses and COVID, the tourism and hospitality industries have of course taken very serious hits during the pandemic. How are they doing now? We are beginning to see a recovery. What are you hearing from your partners in the tourism and hospitality business here in Baltimore?

Al Hutchinson: Well, yeah, Tom, I think arguably the travel and tourism business has been negatively impacted from the pandemic maybe more than other industries. So it's been a tough haul for the restaurants, tours, the hospital, hotel, yeah. My team, we've laid people off. It's been tough. And so the past 15, 16 months, we've had to really dig deep and really look at where we're going to go moving forward.

So I think what the pandemic has allowed us to do is to rethink about the travel and tourism industry moving forward. We cannot go back to business as usual prior to the pandemic. And if you look at this region about little more than 85,000 people were working in this industry in the region, in the Metro area. Now the number is much less than that. A lot of folks are no longer working in this industry.

And sadly, a number of these folks are not coming back to the travel and tourism industry. They pivoted and they've changed to go to other places. I think now we have an opportunity to reinvigorate one of the leading industries in Baltimore City and the Mayor Scott knows this. We got to reinvest in travel and tourism.

And so hopefully with some of the fed money coming in, I'm hopeful that some of that can go into reinvesting in industry that's extremely important to Baltimore City. And the real reason for this is we need to put people back to work. The saddest part about the pandemic and my industry is mothers, fathers who are taking care of their families were out of work. And then they were struggling taking care of a young child or putting someone through college.

We have to figure out how do we get folks back to work and then how do we make the industry appealing and sexy to attract a new generation of workers in an industry that's far too important for Baltimore City. So I'm optimistic. I believe we have an opportunity to rebuild an industry in a much different way and we can regain our foothold in travel and tourism and make Baltimore a very important destination moving forward.

Tom Hall: And Mayor Scott, the city and the state have announced a bid by Baltimore to host the 2026 World Cup. That's got a lot of people very excited about that possibility. Why are you pushing for this opportunity? Why is it important to you? And what do you think it mean for the City of Baltimore to host the World Cup?

Mayor Brandon Scott: Well, it's important to always make sure that Baltimore is taking chance of opportunities that will allow us to showcase ourselves to the world as the best city that has ever existed. And we all know, also Tom, the growing population from countries around the world that exists here in Baltimore. Just in my neighborhood in Frankfurt, we have people from Africa, from Nepal. We have people from Latin America. That also plays a part to me because we know that we would embrace the World Cup like many cities in the US could not.

But also when you think about the potential economic impact for hosting matches. The economic impact for a hosting city has been estimated at $480 million in net benefit. And Baltimore, we will use that as a catalyst for our broader vision of building an equitable Baltimore for all. And Baltimore 2026 is going to play also a major role when we redevelop our city and state with $140 million upgrades to M&T Bank, which is already world-class, $7.2 million in upgrade to Camden Station and the city’s $16.8 million of renovation of Rash Field.

It would also create long lasting tangible legacies for our communities. Obviously it would create a lot of jobs and opportunity as it comes through, but really it's about putting Baltimore on the world stage and showcasing and beating our chest and saying, yes, we are Baltimore. That underdog city that sits in between DC and Philadelphia that everyone counts out, but we always win. We are the city that saved this country multiple times. We are the city that gave us Thurgood Marshall. We have to beat on our chest and let everyone know how great of a city we are. And even though we love our neighbors who know from Philadelphia, that they cannot compare with ours.

Tom Hall: And with that, you got to make that point first and foremost, absolutely. As we finish up here, let me ask the same question of both of you. Al, we'll start with you. We've talked a lot about Baltimore City and tourism in the city, but tourism of course is a regional issue. How important is the partnership and cooperation of your partners across the region?

Al Hutchinson: It's extremely important, Tom. And I can tell you, Visit Baltimore has had conversations with the five surrounding county execs and BMC has been a great platform to have those conversations. The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore is another entity that we have conversations with. We have to make sure that as we talk about Baltimore City, we broaden the conversation and have it regionally. Our five surrounding counties are members of the Baltimore region, not the DC region.

So it's very incumbent on all of us to be talking about regionalism as Baltimore City goes, the region goes and vice versa. We want to help each other out because all of us have different assets to showcase. And one thing about the visitor, they don't see the boundaries that we see. So when they're in Anne Arundel or they cross the line and go to Hartford or Carroll or Baltimore City, they don't see the lines, they see a great experience.

And so that should be the message that as leaders in Baltimore City and the counties that we begin to talk about. Let's see these invisible lines. Let's talk about how we can win together. And I would venture to say, as we travel around the country and we live in Howard County and we live in Anne Arundel or Baltimore County and someone says to us, "Where are you from?" I was saying, most of us would say, "We're from Baltimore.”

And that's the message that we all need to get back to. Let's celebrate Baltimore. Let's work together to make sure we're all successful. And I'm going to continue to always have a regional I. I want Baltimore City to be successful, but I know the region is extremely important to us. And we're going to continue to partner with our county execs and business leaders to make sure the entire region is successful.

Tom Hall: And Mr. Mayor, we'll give you the last word, your take on the importance of regionalism, not just in regard to tourism, but in general, working with partners in the metropolitan area. What do you think?

Mayor Brandon Scott: It's a critical thing. Actually I was with my good friend, County Executive, Olszewski yesterday in Baltimore City as we were talking somewhat about our partnership that we have in the region that we also have with County Executive, Ball and Pittman in Anne Arundel County. When you, and Al hit the nail on here, we are one region. When folks come here, when they are Ravens fans, they come from all over the region. When they're Orioles fans, they come from all the recent. People come into Baltimore, the world. And what we think about when we talk about regionalism is how we can actually have true regionalism.

We know a lot of that has been waning over the years, but the four of us are really committed to building that partnership. And you saw that even in General Assembly where the four of us came together to talk about the need to have funding for MTA and really build towards a regional transit authority so that the entire region can get around and get into the city, which is the center of the region. And my counterparts know that Baltimore City's success is their success.

And with that mentality, with the folks that we have in office, with the great folks in partnerships like the folks at BMC, we can actually build this true regional partnership. That means that we can have impacts on things ranging from transportation to job creation, to even crime. All of these things play a part of working together. And that's how important it is for us to work together because it means success for us all and success of Baltimore City and our region means success for our state.

Tom Hall: Mayor Brandon Scott is the mayor of the great City of Baltimore. Mayor Scott, thank you so much for joining us here on The Chesapeake Connect Podcast. I appreciate it.

Mayor Brandon Scott: Thank you.

Tom Hall: Al Hutchinson is the President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. Al, thank you as well for being with us here on the pod.

Al Hutchinson: Thank you very much, Tom.

Tom Hall: The Chesapeake Connect Podcast is produced by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council with assistance from WYPR. Please subscribe to the podcast on whatever podcasting app you use and give us a rating if you're so inclined. It helps other listeners find out about our show. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council works with our regions elected executives to identify mutual interests and develop collaborative strategies, plans and programs that improve our quality of life and economic vitality. BMCs member jurisdictions include Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Hartford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties. For more information, please visit baltometro.org. Our producer is Mark Gunnery. I'm Tom Hall. Thanks for connecting.