If you think Baltimore’s entrepreneurial community in Baltimore, shortcomings in capital and small business owners are symptoms, not causes. To build a stronger tech scene, you need to build a better city.
It’s as simple as that to Bill Struever, the hometown Cross Street Partners developer who rose and fell on the housing bubble and is back, focusing on the impact physical space has on ‘the innovation economy.’
The comments from Struever, who has spoken before about attracting new residents to Baltimore as economic development policy, came as his one big idea for the region’s entrepreneurship future during the State of Startups event at the BioPark during Baltimore Innovation Week last month. (Read other one big ideas from the event here.)
Struever, who shared how his kayaking across the Harbor from Tide Point to Fells Point is always faster than driving through downtown, talked about how anchor institutions, a better understanding of mixed-use neighborhood development and an awareness of the creative economy as an engine for growth are all the tools to “build on the base of Baltimore.”
- Transit — University students cite more often a lack of cohesive big city-style mass transportation as the biggest offering Baltimore is lacking, according to an annual Collegetown Baltimore survey, said Struever, not crime, not education, not taxes. The expansion of the free Circulator bus, water taxi and the Redline shows there is movement.
- College networks — We can’t overstate the power of large anchor institutions that have a business model predicated on bringing in new, young talent, he said. That’s the vehicle to bring them in, then we have to show them what we have, including offering entry into the growing tech scene.
- Physical Clusters — The density of technology and innovation is self-perpetuating, he said, as businesses and talent want to be near to each other. Read about the various Baltimore innovation hubs in this feature here.
- Diverse economy — The Baltimore region has a variety of fledgling industries but to improve the collective future, there needs to be more willingness to embrace new paths, organizations and efforts to further diversify those pushing for new heights, he said.
Watch a portion of Struever’s remarks below.