Baltimore County Now
by Tim Murphy
Baltimore County Department of Economic Development
From the World Trade Center at the Inner Harbor, visitors can take in a long view of the natural waterways and man-made infrastructure leading into Baltimore. From this perch, the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) recently gathered economic development professionals to look at how a major expansion of the Panama Canal can lead to economic expansion here at home.
In just two years, the Panama Canal will open new shipping lanes capable of handling vessels with three times the current cargo loads. These so-called “super ships” will make it cost-effective to carry goods from the Pacific Rim, through the Canal, and directly to customers along the East Coast.
A new Towson University RESI report, commissioned by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB), studied the local impact. The Port of Baltimore is one of only two Eastern seaports currently capable of handling these vessels. According to the RESI study, “the growth and investment in the supply chain will be exponential, impacting everything from shipping and rail line construction to warehousing and terminal development.”
Baltimore County Department of Economic Development’s Strategic Operations Plan, released earlier this year, intentionally aligns with these high employment clusters, including manufacturing, port-related industries, logistics, and distribution centers. Economic Development is also focusing on nine business investment areas, including Sparrows Point. A Sparrows Point Partnership advisory group is providing guidance to the County on the specific types of businesses and new jobs that will benefit from an expanded Panama Canal and Port.
Attendees at the MEDA conference agreed that “opportunity knocks,” but to take full advantage, it will take a coordinated, focused and planned effort. Baltimore County is already ahead of the game.
Executive Director, Baltimore County Department of Economic Development
They're longer than four football fields and can carry three times the cargo of any vessel. And they're coming soon to a port near you.
A new generation of super ships will begin sailing through the Panama Canal beginning in 2014. The Port of Baltimore is getting ready for these huge visitors, with the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Dundalk undergoing a major expansion.
Baltimore County has launched a major economic development initiative to help us capitalize on the Port's tremendous growth. A new Sparrows Point Partnership brings together 16 prominent business and private sector leaders to look at port-related business and job growth opportunities in Sparrows Point, North Point, Essex, Rossville and Middle River.
We already have a strong industrial base that includes a network of manufacturers, suppliers, logistics and distribution companies and their trained workers. We have deepwater access, two commercial rail lines, interstate access, and land zoned for industry.
Bring on the super ships!