Baltimore: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Baltimore's heritage as a strategically-located East Coast port is drawn upon by its developers today. The city's revived downtown and central location among major East Coast cities has made it increasingly attractive to new or expanding businesses. The blue-collar tradition exemplified by Bethlehem Steel's ranking as top employer in the 1980s is being replaced by jobs in the service sector in fields such as law, finance, medicine, hospitality, entertainment, maritime commerce and health. Growth in the high-technology market in areas such as electronics, information technology, telecommunications and aerospace research has also created new jobs.

Baltimore is an established center of medicine and biosciences. It is a national headquarters for advanced medical treatment and research with two pioneering teaching hospitals, Johns Hopkins Hospital and University Hospital at the University of Maryland. The Baltimore area is the research center for the mapping of the human genome and its resulting commercial applications.

Year after year, Greater Baltimore ranks among the nation's top twenty markets in key retail categories. Tourism, spurred on by the opening or expansion of downtown attractions, has boosted construction and the success of the Inner Harbor renovation has lured city residents back downtown. Tourism in Baltimore brought increased revenues from 2003 to 2004, with increased hotel occupancy rates, convention–related spending, overall air travel to the city, increased tax revenues and growth in the number of leisure and hospitality jobs.

Among the city's major exports are coal, grain, iron, steel, and copper products. Baltimore also remains a center for shipbuilding.

The Baltimore metropolitan area is home to three companies on the Fortune 500 list of the largest companies in the country: food distributor U.S. Foodservice Inc., power tool giant Black & Decker Corp., and Constellation Energy, the utility holding company that owns Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.

Items and goods produced: steel pipe; plate, sheet, and tin mill products; ships and ship-related products; aerospace equipment; sugar and processed foods; copper and oil refining; chemicals; clothing

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore helps businesses to access the broad range of competitive incentives offered by the State of Maryland and local jurisdictions, as well as Baltimore Gas and Electric. Municipalities and the State of Maryland offer attractive financing programs including industrial revenue bonds, small business and high technology loans, and community development block grants. Many of these loans offer interest rates that are below market. Payment-in-lieu-of Taxes (PILOT) agreements with the City of Baltimore exempt businesses from property taxes on certain real estate within the city for a specified length of time and substitute a negotiated payment.

State programs

The One Maryland Tax Credit Program for development in a "qualified distressed county" allows up to $5 million in project tax credits and an additional $500,000 in start-up tax credits. In addition to the One Maryland program, four other business finance programs are offered through the state, consisting of loans and grants. Enterprise zone property and income tax credits are available. Foreign Trade Zone #74 houses port-related activities and includes facilities for assembly, distribution, packaging, manufacturing and warehousing.The zone, which saw a reorganization and major expansion of more than 1,000 acres in 2001, now encompasses 1,464 acres.

Job training and recruitment programs

The Economic Alliance also partners with area colleges and universities to provide customized training to ensure a quality workforce. The Maryland Industrial Training Program (MITP), as well as some local programs, provides reimbursement grants for the development and training of new employees in firms that are locating or expanding their workforce in Maryland. The level of funding provided is negotiated between the company and the State of Maryland, with specific cost sharing items spelled out in a training grant agreement. The Partnership for Work-force Quality (PWQ) provides matching skill training grants. The Business Training Network (BTN) is a network of regional community colleges providing training and recruitment programs. Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program (MATP) offers free technical assistance to companies who want to set up apprenticeship programs. Additional workforce resources include the Greater Baltimore Regional Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) Initiative, providing employers the opportunity for recruitment directly from the regional and national military population. Career Net is a workforce database linking employers and job seekers.

Development Projects

Baltimore is continuing its redevelopment program for its Inner Harbor and downtown areas. The $71 million Calvert Mercier Lombard Grant Street redevelopment project is designed to include 300 apartments, retail space and a 542-car parking garage in the heart of the central business district. Improved water taxi/commuter service at Inner Harbor provides tourists and commuters with easy access to the city's cultural, business, entertainment, historic and recreational venues. The city also plans to redevelop Oldtown Mall, a once thriving pedestrian mall in East Baltimore. The west side of the city is also seeing revitalization in the Westside Initiative which incorporates the redevelopment of 100 square blocks and links the finance district to the University of Maryland's graduate and medical schools.

Ten of Baltimore's neighborhood commercial districts received a financial boost over three years under a national Main Street program. The revitalization initiative followed the National Trust for Historic Preservation model, using more than $1.5 million in city, state, and private funds. The program has been successful in creating 210 new businesses, more than 700 new full–and part–time jobs, and 291 facáde improvement projects.

Economic Development Information: Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, 111 South Calvert Street, Suite 2220, Baltimore, MD 21202-6180; telephone (888)298-4322. Baltimore Development Corporation, 36 South Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-3015; telephone (410) 837-9305; fax 410-837-6363

Commercial Shipping

Baltimore-Washington International Airport is a major cargo carrier for the mid-Atlantic region. CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad systems service industry throughout the Baltimore area. Several major interstate highways run through Baltimore; I-95 links Baltimore with major cities from New England to Florida, and I-70 connects it with the Midwest. More than 100 trucking lines also accommodate the Baltimore area.

The most significant mover of goods in the area is the port of Baltimore, the fifth largest and one of the busiest deep-water ports in the nation. One hundred fifty miles closer to key midwestern markets than any other Atlantic Coast port, the port of Baltimore has lower transportation costs between its marine terminals and inland points of cargo origin or destination. Baltimore also benefits by having two access routes to its port: from the north through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, and from the south up the Chesapeake Bay. Since 1980, more than one-half billion dollars has been invested in maritime-related improvements to the Port.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Sixty-eight percent of population over 25 in the City of Baltimore has a high school diploma and 19.1 percent has a bachelor's degree or more. Baltimore's job growth rate was up in 2004 and ranked in the top quarter of the nation's metro areas. Education and health services, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality were the major industries facing job gains. The largest job losses were in the information and manufacturing sectors.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Baltimore Metropolitan area (PMSA) labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of civilian labor force: 1,344,649

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 73,700

manufacturing: 80,200

trade, transportation and utilities: 237,000

information: 20,600

financial activities: 81,800

professional and business services: 172,000

educational and health services: 199,500

leisure and hospitality: 107,100

other services: 55,700

government: 218,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.36 (MSA)

Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)

Baltimore: Economy

Largest Baltimore employers Number of employees
Northrop Grumman Corp. (Electronic Sensors & Systems incl. Oceanic Sys. Div.) 9,500
Johns Hopkins Medicine 7,000
University of Maryland Cancer Center 5,000
University of Maryland Medical System 5,000
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 4,282

Cost of Living

When it comes to buying groceries, paying a mortgage or hopping on a subway, Baltimore is one of the most affordable of all East Coast cities. The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Baltimore area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) Average House Price: $301,143

2004 (3rd Quarter) Cost of Living Index: 108.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 4.75%

State sales tax rate: 5.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: 3.05% (City of Baltimore)

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: $2.328 per $100.00 assessed value (2005 Fiscal year)

Economic Information: Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, 111 South Calvert Street, Suite 2220, Baltimore, MD 21202-6180; toll-free (888)298-4322; telephone (410) 468-0100