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Date: Mar 9, 2017

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz unveiled the final rendering for the new urban park to be located between the Historic Courthouse and County Courts building in Towson. Flanked by memorials to fallen police and fire fighters, the new plaza will create usable green space for the people who live, work and visit downtown Towson.

“The acclaimed Towson courthouse gardens have long been a source of pride for our county," said County Executive Kamenetz.  "This new green setting at the opposite side of the Historic Courthouse will be a wonderful addition to the grounds and provide a welcoming venue for people to gather during the week and for special events. We worked with community and civic groups to achieve a special design.”

The new greenspace will replace an impervious concrete and paver courtyard centered by a fountain that has not functioned for several years.  Leaks in the fountain’s infrastructure require immediate reconstruction of a significant portion of the plaza. Repairs must take place on a tight time frame to avoid additional costly damage to office spaces and technology systems located below the plaza. 

The County consulted with the Towson Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations (GTCCA) and representatives of the fire and police unions and memorial associations to gather input on the design. The design was developed by Rubeling & Associates, a Towson architectural firm.

“The County Council is always delighted when green space is added to a neighborhood,” said Council Chair Tom Quirk. “I commend the administration for involving key members of the community in the design of this new open space.”

“I can’t wait until we cut the ribbon for this new park area,” said Nancy Hafford, Executive Director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce. “My head is already spinning at the possibilities that this new space creates.”

“I was pleased to be asked to provide input as to what should be reflected in the final design,” stated Paul Hartman, a member of the GTCCA. “I think the company did a great job trying to capture everyone’s ideas. I am especially happy about the plan to increase greenspace and reduce hardscape."

"The improvements to Patriot Plaza will make the Baltimore County Police Memorial more visible and accessible, while ensuring that the monument continues to provide a solemn tribute to officers who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Retired Colonel Dennis Robinson, Chair of the Baltimore County Police Memorial Fund. “I want to thank the County Executive and his team for their thoughtful consideration of our recommendations.”

Retired Fire Chief Elwood Bannister added, “Anything that we can do to educate more people about our tribute to our fallen fire fighters is greatly appreciated. I find this new design very respectful of our monument.”

Funds for the project, estimated to cost between $3 and $4 million, were approved by the County Council in the FY2017 operating budget. The new green plaza is expected to be completed in June 2018.

Baltimore County has spent more than $57 million on open space and recreational projects since 2010. “Giving families open space and gathering places is central to the quality of life in our communities,” concluded Kamenetz.

By Jen Horton, Policy and Planning Manager, Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development

Nine key industries will drive three-quarters of Baltimore County’s job growth over the next decade, according to a new study commissioned by the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development. The study also projected overall job growth through 2024, with Baltimore County employers favoring more highly skilled and educated workers.

Healthcare, corporate operations centers, construction and financial services are among the top industries currently driving Baltimore County employment. Together with manufacturing, federal agencies, port-logistics and distribution centers, information technology and higher education, these nine sectors drive 50 percent of Baltimore County’s employment. Growth in these key sectors will drive 75 percent of Baltimore County’s job growth by 2024.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development commissioned the Jacob France Institute and Valbridge Property Advisers to analyze current and projected job trends—including types of jobs, skills and applicants. 

“Our local economy is already strong and growing, supported by a range of healthy industries. But there’s no time for rest—it’s time to take stock so we maintain a solid pipeline of workers whose skills are in sync with what business needs,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “This jobs report has been applauded by our state and federal workforce partners as a proactive and thorough approach to staying ahead of industry trends.”

“This research provides us with data to help us do a better job of matching Baltimore County job seekers to industries with workforce shortages,” added Will Anderson, director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development.

Below are key findings identified in the Jobs of the Future report:

Baltimore County’s nine industry job drivers contribute three-quarters of net employment growth since 2001 and are expected to continue this trend throughout 2024. This finding suggests that Baltimore County boasts a diversified economy, with workforce demands that span across multiple sectors of the economy. The County has performed well in sectors such as Healthcare and Social Assistance, Finance and Insurance, and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. The County shows continued weakness in Manufacturing, Federal Employment and Port-related industries.

The research does not include 2016 announcements of almost 2,000 new jobs coming to Tradepoint Atlantic—the East Coast’s largest privately-owned industrial site. A 2016 study by Sage Policy Group projects redevelopment at Sparrows Point will create 10,000 direct jobs, and 7,000 indirect jobs by 2025, primarily in the Port, Logistics, and Distribution Centers sector.  

Total employment in Baltimore County has increased by more than four percent since 2001. The County is projected to experience steady employment growth, with employment projected to increase by 12,902 jobs or 3.5 percent, to 385,650 jobs in 2024.

Baltimore County Total Employment 2001 to 2015 and Projections through 2024

Baltimore County employers are demanding a more highly skilled and educated workforce, while the County’s nine industry clusters are requiring a higher degree of skills and education. Employment in high skilled occupations (requiring a Bachelor’s and above) increased by 13 percent in 2001 to 2015 and is expected to continue to grow by six percent through 2024. 32 percent of jobs in the nine targeted industry clusters are high skilled jobs that require a Bachelor’s degree above, versus 25 percent of all jobs in Baltimore County.

Baltimore County offers a diverse workforce across the high, middle and low skilled spectrum of jobs. Compared to the nation, Baltimore County has a high share, 43 percent compared to 37 percent nationally, of employed residents working in high skilled occupations, but tends to lag the State and region in terms of its concentration of workers in these occupations.  However, Baltimore County tends to have higher concentrations of workers employed in Middle and Lower Skilled occupations than the State or region. For example, employment in Middle Skill occupations increased by 12 percent since 2001 and is projected to grow by 5 percent through 2024.

Although the County’s employment numbers are projected to grow steadily through 2024, the researchers identified talent retention of skilled and educated out-commuters and graduates as a key challenge that needs to be addressed in the County’s ongoing economic and workforce development strategy.

“Our Economic and Workforce Development staff in partnership with the business and academic leaders on Baltimore County’s Workforce Development Board already have begun using this data to help prioritize and address our workforce system gaps,” said Will Anderson.

Economic and Workforce Development have already prioritized some of the report’s key recommendations, including: 

  • Emphasizing industry clusters in the economy that lead to in-County job creation.
  • Supporting the expansion of the County’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially in the service, healthcare, and construction industries which are more likely to provide employment for mid- and low-skills workers.
  • Strengthening efforts to retain talent in the County through increased connections with local employers and educational institutions.
  • Enhancing opportunities for upgrading the skills of local residents by strengthening partnerships with area community colleges that provide career education and training opportunities. 
  • Promoting place-based economic development strategies, including a focus on revitalizing Towson as an urban live, work, play and learn environment to attract millennials, Towson University students and businesses.

"This research confirms two core economic growth strategies that we have emphasized over the past several years,” said Kamenetz. “First, focus on ‘growing our own’—supporting our current employers. This will continue to be the bedrock of our strength. Second, economic and workforce development need to work hand-in-glove. They belong together because jobs, skills and talent are all deeply connected.”

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