Baltimore's Mr. Carey

Our view: The city needs financier's philanthropy

April 28, 2008

In the spirit of his great-great-great-grandfather, real estate financier William P. Carey wants to make his mark in Baltimore, and he's got millions to provide as an economic stimulus. It's an incredibly generous offer for a 77-year-old native who made his fortune elsewhere but cites his 18th-century ancestor, city merchant James Carey, as the inspiration for his bequest.

His is a deep, emotional tie to a city with obvious needs and potential.

Mr. Carey, of New York, has already invested in the city's future business leaders and entrepreneurs with a $50 million gift to establish a graduate business school at the Johns Hopkins University. Last week, he announced that he intends for his W.P. Carey Foundation to be his vehicle to help revitalize this old port and manufacturing town. That Mr. Carey's focus is economic development serves as a complement to the social service and community work of the Annie E. Casey, Harry & Jeannette Weinberg, Abell and other Baltimore foundations. A vibrant economy offers well-paying jobs and tax revenues for the city.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, we would encourage Mr. Carey to begin reseeding Baltimore's revitalization now. Despite the presence of a generous measure of local talent, relatively few entrepreneurial success stories have blossomed from research efforts here. The biotechnology parks at Hopkins and the University of Maryland, Baltimore could benefit from start-up money that would help researchers in the early years when venture capitalists aren't ready to commit. The Carey Foundation could invest in internships and apprenticeships for entrepreneurial graduate business school students to work in the biotech field and serve in the nonprofit arena.

Business incubators, work force training that is tied to employers, minority business development, life science coaching and a high school science and technology competition fashioned on the Intel model are just a few areas where Mr. Carey's largess could transform the landscape here.

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