Brenda McKenzie, a veteran economic development expert who recently led the Boston Redevelopment Authority and served as deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, has been named the new president of the Baltimore Development Corp.
McKenzie replaces M.J. “Jay” Brodie, who announced his retirement in February after 16 years at the helm of BDC.
“To begin growing again, we need to create new, good paying jobs for residents and strengthen our communities,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. The mayor hired McKenzie following a national search and lauded her for “energy and optimism.”
Rawlings-Blake has pledged to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families over the next decade, and said McKenzie would help her administration reach that goal.
“I actually had the pleasure of visiting Baltimore a fair amount of times over the years, and I can just tell you that this city is in an enviable position,” McKenzie said at a news conference at City Hall Monday. “You have so much of the factors that fuel growth: Great location, great attractions, sports, talented workforce, fabulous neighborhoods, arts and culture, strong business community, I could go on, but I really don’t have to because you already know that. You know it’s here. You can truly feel the pride in this city.”
McKenzie will earn $200,000 annually, said the mayor’s spokesman Ryan O’Doherty.
Brodie’s yearly salary was $193,511 as of June 2011, according to BDC documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the latest salary filings available.
The BDC is the city’s quasi-public development arm and is involved in helping attract development to Baltimore. The agency recently helped broker a deal with Exelon Corp. to establish a new headquarters for its Constellation Energy subsidiary in Harbor Point and is working with the developer, H&S Properties, to help finance the deal with tax credits and the sale of tax increment financing bonds.
The agency is also involved in the ongoing, yet stalled, development of the Superblock downtown, a $1.5 billion project that involves redeveloping an entire city block of decrepit former retail stores that are now owned by the city into a gleaming new multi-purpose mega-center.
Past BDC-led projects have also included brokering of lucrative tax breaks for the development of the city’s waterfront at Harbor Point, now termed the city’s gold coast.
McKenzie has served as economic development director for the Boston Redevelopment Authority since 2008. She has also worked for Starbucks Coffee as a senior manager.
She holds a master of public administration from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Illinois-Champaign.
“Brenda is the complete package,” said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. “Her public and private experience positions her well to lead the BDC. Her background includes a blend of strategic planning, marketing, deal making and an appreciation of the importance of neighborhoods to economic development.”