The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore has a new campaign aimed at retaining companies and attracting others to the city’s central business district amid the pandemic.
At the org’s annual meeting on Tuesday, the org launched the Double Down on Downtown campaign. The promotional campaign features testimonials from local leaders speaking to the bonafides of doing business in the city’s downtown core. It comes at a time when remote work is leading companies to rethink how much office space is necessary, new developments are relocating officers elsewhere and arts organizations continue to struggle as they were only able to reopen recently.
“Because the newer parts of our city get a lot of attention it’s easy to overlook the assets in the traditional business core. We launched Double Down on Downtown to increase retention and recruitment,” DPOB President Shelonda Stokes said. “But we don’t just want people to take our word for it. The campaign features Downtown business icons, including Augie Chiasera from M&T Bank, Delali Dzirasa from Fearless, Greg Forno of Truist, and Jayson Williams from Mayson Dixon.”
Created by the local firm TBC, the campaign will mix print, video and digital assets. An initial phase will include stakeholders discussing the benefits of a Downtown location, the assets here, and the potential they see for the area down the road. Phase two will launch in the spring, with the goal of attracting businesses from around the country.
It comes as many are asking a question about cities: What’s the future of downtown?
It has felt more urgent when considering the shifts of the pandemic. The health recommendations that led to an embrace of remote work among office workers gave way to a massive wave of job switches that is making what seemed temporary feel permanent. Companies are evaluating and adjusting office footprints accordingly. City leaders are considering factors like livability, equity and affordability as strategies for growth revolve just as much around appealing to people as they do entire companies.
Baltimore is no exception. With fewer workers commuting into offices, businesses shifted plans. It led several to consider options in other neighborhoods. Stalwarts like T. Rowe Price, Transamerica and Bank of America are moving out of the central business district to the office buildings taking shape to the east at Harbor Point and Harbor East.
To be sure, not all companies are relocating out of the area. Maryland’s state government announced plans to relocate offices downtown. The law firm Ballard Spahr has a new lease to move across the central business district. And the coworking community Spark Baltimore is growing, showing that there’s interest from startups and other small businesses in putting down roots.
City leaders also have additional plans to light up the downtown area, as well. A new zoning district overlay passed the Baltimore City Council this week to create the North Harbor District, aka NoHa. In this district, commercial companies will be allowed to place large video screens on their facades. Additional bills moving through the City Council would also reauthorize tax credits for historic preservation, newly constructed dwellings and “high performance market rate” housing.