Recently, my university was asked to co-host an international conference that will bring to Baltimore several hundred educators, business experts and others devoted to strengthening the ties between higher education and entrepreneurship. The organizers said they chose Baltimore because they recognize our potential as a “surge city,” an ideal place to start and grow a business.
To some, this sounds great. But to others — those who wonder whether this city has a bright future ahead of it — the idea seems too grand. For me, a relative newcomer with less than a decade of working in Baltimore, I can tell you this: Our town is on the move. You should join us now or miss out on some enormously positive changes.
From what I’ve seen, I strongly believe that there are forward-thinking people living here who have the city’s revival burning in their hearts. They are ready to roll up their sleeves and offer their expertise to create the renaissance we are collectively seeking. The talent in this town is awe-inspiring. So, what are we waiting for? There’s no time like the present to act on the things we know to be true.
Here are four points that Baltimore’s leaders should consider:
Of these four points, I urge you to focus most closely on that last one. We are, indeed, poised to renew Baltimore. The time for worrying about our future, chalking up losses and not balancing them out with gains, is over. We see how much local brain power and creatively there is. We have some of the best high schools, colleges and universities in the country, right here in town. We have 26 coworking spaces, more than 16 business incubators, and 60 federal research labs, all within a 30-mile radius. Let’s make these qualities the very foundation of this period of renewal.
And let’s do one more thing: We need to consistently think of ourselves, the people of Baltimore, as successful entrepreneurs. We have a voice, an attitude, and we’re optimistic to a fault. Our vision is clear and original, and people want to be like us, and live where we live.
That brings me back to the conference I mentioned, which offers more evidence that big changes are coming to Baltimore: On Oct. 13-16, The University of Baltimore and Loyola University Maryland will host the 2021 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers’ annual meeting. The event’s theme, “Leading with Entrepreneurship: Succeeding in Revitalization,” will show how higher education and entrepreneurs are leading the way to create the new companies that transform communities.
Baltimore offers a broad, vibrant, close-knit entrepreneurial ecosystem that is bolstering the city’s ongoing revival. The conference is a great opportunity, not only for the two universities but also for the region’s business community, to showcase our success.
If it’s true that it takes an outsider to remind you when you’re doing well, then hear this: What’s it going to take to make Baltimore great? It’s us.
Murray Dalziel is dean of the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore. His email is [email protected].