Sunday, February 2, 2014

How Do We Bring Indusry Back to Baltimore?

The above question probably has no answer other than taxing corporations that ship jobs overseas and exploits the lower minimum wage but since that's not going to happen, there's really no point in me writing this post. However, there are indications that industry in general might be looking at Baltimore with a keen eye. Amazon is going to be opening a new 1 million square foot distribution center in Southeast Baltimore in Southeast Baltimore at the former GM Plant Site with estimates of 1,000 new jobs. If amazon is interested in Baltimore could other large companies be next?
As I've said stated above, the manufacturing facet of industry has largely been abandoned but distribution centers as well as ports to import and export goods and services is still somewhat viable. Amazon's interest and commitment to Baltimore is a huge shot in the arm for Baltimore's industrial sector but before we celebrate victory lets try to get more distribution centers and the like in our fair City where there's a plethora of industrial land. By doing so, the import/export trade in the Port of Baltimore can only grow.

Do I think that McCormick Spice & Co. will re-relocate back into the City from Hunt Valley? No. Do I think a mega factory that employs 30,000 people will rise up on the site of Bethlehem Steel? No. Do I think Proctor and Gamble or let me stop this before I sound like a broken record of Industrial nostalgia by saying no to every prospect of these former heavyweights bringing back the good old days. On the other hand, I would love for them to prove me wrong.
So what's in the ball park of an Amazon Distribution Center that could return the shine to Baltimore's current Rust Belt? Well, there are other mail order or online companies that could benefit from expanding and building new Distribution Centers to allow for faster delivery. "Netflix" and  "" are companies that come to mind.  
Still on the manufacturing front the Car Market has changed drastically over the years, Car Companies all over the world are offering hybrid and eventually entirely electric Cars. As these cars begin to be seeking space to build these vehicles and/or parts for said vehicles, Baltimore's port and vacant land that's zoned for industrial use, a port that's conveniently located, and a work force that will fill the jobs in a heartbeat Baltimore looks poised to capitalize. However, every American City has vacant industrial land and a work force that will those jobs in no time at all. 
Another possible avenue to bringing industry back to Baltimore could in fact lie within the very Suburbs that bled the City dry of its industry after World War II. There are initiatives in the Counties mainly Howard County to redevelop plats of industrial land with mixed use Office/Retail/Residential because it's more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, I wrote a post dedicated to this called "Could TOD Re-Centralize Industry?".  
In Howard County I can think of a few parcels of land along Columbia's Snowden River Parkway that could be redeveloped in the next couple of decades; the Sears Distribution Center and the successful Lincoln Technological Institute, a College for aspiring Auto Mechanics. In Jessup, the Maryland Wholesale Food Center is located right next to an under utilized MARC Station that's part of Howard County's Route 1 Revitalization Corridor that could make for prime TOD. I don't want to kick these Businesses out of their current locations and force them into the City I'm merely bouncing around ideas.
So back to the titular question; How do we bring industry back to Baltimore? The above posts may or may not contain answers and that's of course assuming that there are answers. My apologies for my lacking of nicely flowing Journalism and my back-room think tank style of writing but given how bumpy and unexplored this territory is, I feel it oddly fits the topic.