Baltimore has the foundation to create jobs, the new mayor just needs to build off those fundamentals, said J. Thomas Sadowski, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore.
Sadowski, also Harford County's former head of economic development, recommends that Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake strengthen ties between private companies and higher education institutions, such as Johns Hopkins, to help nurture innovation and entrepreneurship.
The mayor could work with university-supported incubator programs to help develop small and minority business and with the city's bioparks to provide incentives to commercialize tech products.
"The more we can help cultivate entrepreneurship and the presence of that creative class, it will ultimately set the stage for good things going forward," Sadowski said.
Sadowski also said Rawlings-Blake should improve public transportation and continue efforts to reduce crime to lure more company headquarters. Public transportation also gives residents easier access to available jobs, he said.
The city should also further enhance its work with groups such as the Downtown Partnership and the Baltimore Development Corp. to attract new investments and redevelopment projects. He pointed out that there is room for expansion and job creation at the city's port.
Rawlings-Blake has stood up for workers rights by protesting with union members and has been a proponent of development that would increase business in areas like tourism and bring jobs.
She recently joined with the rest of the council in rushing through legislation to designate half the city as a "recovery zone" and make it eligible for federal stimulus funds for construction projects.
Five years ago, Rawlings-Blake supported a proposed $305 million, publicly financed convention hotel. Proponents said it would create jobs and help boost the struggling convention business, but others questioned the public financing.
"How eager some of us are to doubt the future of Baltimore," she said about opponents at the time.
In 2007, she protested with Baltimore school bus drivers, aides and mechanics in an effort to save their jobs as the school system switched to a new contractor.