Saturday, November 17, 2007

Baltimore Ascendant

According to the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB), the region has left the Rust Belt behind and completed a transition from an industrial economy to the knowledge economy. The EAGB is now busy setting the record straight, distinguishing Baltimore from its stagnant cohort mired in the businesses of yesterday:

Thanks to manufacturing job losses and few Fortune 500 companies downtown, Baltimore's economic reputation has struggled.

"They probably think of the cities of the AFC North, you know--which we share a football league. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh...but Baltimore economically is very different from those cities," said economist Anirban Basu.

Now economists want to dump that old image, point out that while manufacturing used to drive Baltimore's economy, health care has since taken over.

"Health services, medical research, defense technologies and tourism. Much less about manufacturing and distribution which, of course, were major drivers for Baltimore in the 50s, 60s, 70s, but not as much today," Basu said.

I'd like to help these economists with their new branding campaign: Baltimore... Pittsburgh It Ain't. Thanks to the Steelers and its ownership, Pittsburgh has great brand recognition. I seem to recall AntiRust visiting this theme on at least one occasion. You could do worse than to distance your city from Pittsburgh.

Perhaps economists invoking urban Rust Belt mythology fail to amuse you (I find it funny), but consider the target audience for Baltimore's image resurrection campaign:

"I think foremost, we need to educate the local people. You know, we're the biggest advertisers you can have. When you're on a place and you're outside the region and you talk to someone about Baltimore and you don't have the proper image if you, you certainly can't expect other people to have the proper image of it," [EABC's Edwin Blake] said.

The locals, who see Baltimore everyday, are the ones who need an attitude adjustment. Baltimore and Pittsburgh share the same problem, the inability (perhaps unwillingness) to envision a new city and a new economy. To riff off of Mike Madison's Animal House metaphor, the agent of change is the renegade fraternity who stands outside of the established cultural mores.

Consider yourself warned, Burgh Diaspora:

Greg Marmalard: But Delta's already on probation.

Dean Vernon Wormer: They are? Well, as of this moment, they're on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!

1 comment:

Anna said...

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