(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
The city’s dense central business district is known as a place for financial, law firms and other larger firms. As we’ve reported, it’s also becoming a hub for young, tech-focused companies with coworking spaces and other offices appearing in recent years.
The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore sought to put numbers to this growth with a new report, and found that about 1,700 jobs were added in the area in a five-year period.
Core Tech: The State of Downtown Baltimore Tech and Innovation looked at data for ZIP codes including 21201 and 21202. Along with the central Inner Harbor and area just to the north with all of the tall buildings, this also encompasses Federal Hill, Mt. Vernon, Harbor East and the area on the west side of downtown that includes a section of the University of Maryland Baltimore campus. This is the area DPOB is calling “Core Tech.”
“While much is known about the tech economy across Downtown Baltimore neighborhoods, particularly along the waterfront, less is known about the impact these businesses have in Downtown’s traditional business district in-and-around Charles Center,” the report states.
The report found that the area’s tech community generates:
- $830 million in annual compensation.
- $1.8 billion in annual output.
- $238 million in property and income taxes to the city in 2015.
The report also looked at the tech industry’s role in creating jobs, which reflected growth. Over a five-year period from 2010-2015, the 1,713 jobs added represented a 27 percent increase. It outpaced overall job growth for the city and the national average. In terms of wages, tech workers earn 26 percent more than average downtown workers.
Overall, there are 8,147 “Core Tech” jobs in the area, the report states. While that’s a contribution, it’s a part of the whole. The report states the tech and innovation economy accounts for 7 percent of the jobs in the area.
The report was the first of its kind for the Downtown Partnership, a nonprofit that offers a range of community services in the area.
The org also offers grants to tech companies who relocate to the area through its TechConnect program. David Carberry moved his geotargeting advertising firm Enradius to Mt. Vernon after receiving one of the grants.
“We started from my house in Howard County, and we were just working in a one-room office that was attached to the house,” Carberry said at a Wednesday night panel discussion above EMP Collective that was held at an event to release the report. We reached out to Downtown Partnership and said ‘Is there an opportunity to come downtown?'”
One such hub is Spark Baltimore, the coworking space in Power Plant Live which has been adding offices as recently as the last week.
Among the entrepreneurs working there is Shelonda Stokes. She is the founder of greiBO Entertainment, which works with Under Armour, Baltimore’s African American Festival and Visit Baltimore, among other work.
“For me technology was that thing that could level the playing field,” she said.
The interest in growing the tech community has been evident to Deb Tillett, the president of city-backed incubator ETC Baltimore.
“I started in 2012. We were the only game in town. Business incubator, coworking, and we launched the first accelerator,” she said. At the end of this year, she said, there will be 17 other organizations focused on helping startups, and not all are located downtown. “That is good news for you, and good news for the city,” she told entrepreneurs gathered.
While technology enables businesses to operate anywhere, the report’s approach shows another reality that technologists still benefit from locating in dense areas where they are close to other entrepreneurs and businesses.
In fact, the place itself is becoming part of the pitch. When she is preparing with entrepreneurs to seek funding, Tillett said she asks three questions: “Why you? Why now? Why Baltimore?”
“You have all the tech talent you need right here. You are one degree of separation from anyone you need to know in the city,” she said.
And for Joey Price of JumpStart:HR, who is also based out of Spark Baltimore, the downtown area’s walkable environment and proximity to amenities offers a compelling point to attract talent. “Ride the wave of the city,” he said.-30-
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