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Mosby calls on state leaders to adopt BDC’s proposed enterprise zone changes

Emily Sullivan/WYPR
Baltimore City Hall. Council President Nick Mosby called on state leaders to adopt proposed enterprise zone changes on Monday.

City Council President Nick Mosby called on city and state leaders Monday to adopt Baltimore Economic Development Corporation (BDC) proposals that include an economic development plan for the next five years and new designations for enterprise zones.

The Democrat introduced a resolution at Monday’s council meeting to follow the plan, Baltimore Together: A Platform for Inclusive Prosperity, which aims to bolster economic success for the city’s communities of color and increase the city’s population.

Another resolution urged Maryland leaders to adopt proposed changes to enterprise zones, a state designation that grants certain distressed areas property tax credits and other benefits for the purpose of creating jobs and investments.

BDC, a nonprofit corporation contracted by the city to promote economic development, oversees Baltimore’s enterprise zones. CEO Colin Tarbert has called his organization “a consultant to the city, mayor and city council.”

Enterprise zones are redrawn every ten years; BDC must submit plans for the next designated areas by April 15. They are drawn from census tracts; to become eligible, tracts must meet certain statistics, including having an average unemployment rate of 5.55%, a poverty level of 13.125%, a population that has shrunk by at least 10% since the 2010 census or have at least 70% of households that make less than $50,000 a year.

Kim Clark, BDC’s executive vice president, pitched the council on the proposed changes at a pre-meeting.

“They've worked to great benefit to help Baltimore City grow its businesses. But we really wanted to make sure that we were looking at it through the equity lens,” Clark said.

BDC is proposing that 16,760 city acres receive the designation, an expansion of more than over 3,700 acres. Redesignations include Jones Falls, Oldtown, Carroll Camden Industrial, Central West and Holabird/Orangeville. New designations include the South Industrial Focus Area.

“What I call our borderline highway commercial corridors – our Reisterstown Roads, our Park Heights, our York Roads, Harford Roads, Belair Roads, Frederick Avenue, North Avenue – we made sure that those were included, as well as areas where we're seeing our BIPOC business growth,” Clark said.

Mosby said the proposed zones will bring economic activity to areas that badly need it, such as the Mondawmin Mall.

“That's been a large eyesore that we really would like to generate some type of level of interest or opportunity in for West Baltimore,” he said.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.