In the News: Late 2018

Investing In Opportunity: Addressing the Root Causes of Civil Unrest in Baltimore

10/4/18 – April 2015 will forever be viewed as a turning point in Baltimore’s history. That month, a young Baltimorean named Freddie Gray died of spinal injuries while in police custody after being arrested near his West Baltimore home for allegedly possessing an illegal knife. The death was later ruled a homicide. Several weeks of peaceful protests ultimately broke into civil unrest following Gray’s April 27 funeral, further decaying relations between the community and law enforcement and contributing to what is now a sustained spike in homicides — the city has witnessed 340 murders per year in two of the past three years after averaging just over 200 per year from 2011 to 2014. While the images of unrest after Freddie Gray’s death held the public’s attention, there is another, less publicized event from that same period that captures the city’s challenges just as dramatically. Learn more here.


Financing Baltimore’s Growth: Venture Capital Support for Small Companies

10/3/18 – In 2017, the Johns Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative documented financial flows to small companies located in the City of Baltimore, considering both working capital and venture capital. The purpose was to measure the capacity of the city to support economic development, specifically with regard to the contribution that small companies can make towards job creation and growing the city’s tax base. Earlier this year we published a second report on small business lending, focusing on the availability of bank loans in Baltimore. This report represents a deeper dive into the dynamics of equity capital provided to small companies located in Baltimore. Learn more here.


Strengthening Access to Capital for Minority-Owned Small Businesses

9/17/18 – On Friday, September 14, 2018, the United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a field hearing at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland to discuss strengthening access to capital for minority-owned small businesses. Mary Miller, Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative, provided testimony on Baltimore’s financing system, presenting findings from two recent reports, Financing Baltimore’s Growth: Measuring Small Companies’ Access to Capital and Financing Baltimore’s Growth: Strengthening Lending to Small Businesses. Learn more here.


Financing Baltimore’s Growth: Strengthening Lending to Small Businesses

8/1/19 – In 2017, the Johns Hopkins University 21st Century Cities Initiative published a report on the capacity of the financing system to support small businesses and startups in Baltimore City. The report covered both venture capital and loan capital flowing to small firms located in Baltimore, documenting $500-600 million in annual investments. Loans from banks are the largest source of financing for Baltimore’s small businesses, responsible for about half of total investments per year. As a follow-up to the 2017 report, this paper takes a deeper look into the dynamics of bank lending to small businesses in Baltimore City. Our analysis covers the most recent available 10 years of loan and deposit data that banks are required to report to federal regulators (2007-2016). Learn more here.


Placelinking: An Emergent Approach to Improving Economic Mobility Outcomes

7/27/19 – Neighborhoods, including their schools, housing stock, access to jobs, and social capital, impact the long-term economic success of children. Thanks to Raj Chetty’s and Nathan Hendren’s groundbreaking research, the ability to quantify this impact is now possible. Their analysis of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data shows the causal relationships between where a young person grows up and their future earnings. For example, a young boy raised in Baltimore City can expect to earn 28 percent less in household income as an adult than the national average…We believe policymakers and researchers should pay greater attention to a potential middle category between place-based initiatives and housing mobility programs, a model we refer to as placelinking. Placelinking seeks to improve existing, isolated neighborhoods by better connecting these communities through improved transit, parks and recreation, and other forms of infrastructure and amenities. Learn more here.


Hearing Their Voices: Our Perspective

7/19/18 – As students of social policy at Johns Hopkins, we often discuss what it means to live in a city like Baltimore. We read research reports, books, and current news articles about overlooked populations and the policies that affect them, but we rarely have opportunities to hear from community members firsthand. In planning and attending the 21st Century Cities Initiative’s “Hearing Their Voices” forum, we had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes in helping convene an array of community stakeholders to discuss current events and policies. On April 20th, we heard from this diverse set of politicians (notably, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Baltimore City Council President), community organizers, professors, police officers, organization leaders, and young people. Learn more here.


Promoting Inclusive Communities: How Cities Can Utilize Local Housing Policy to Combat Economic Segregation

6/28/18 – Significant attention has been paid in recent years to the alarming increase in household income inequality in the United States. However, neighborhood income inequality has been rising at an even faster rate. Across the top 264 metro areas in the U.S., neighborhood income inequality, as measured using an indicator of inequality known as the Gini Coefficient, increased on average in cities by 21 percent between 1970 and 2010, as compared to 13 percent for household income inequality. Two conceptually different processes contributed to this worrisome trend. First, household income inequality increased nearly everywhere, mostly due to factors outside the control of local policymakers – globalization, wage stagnation and earnings returns to skills, and changes in the national economy. Second, in many metropolitan areas, the sorting of households into neighborhoods on the basis of income – known as economic segregation – also increased. This brief reviews the rapid rise of neighborhood income inequality in the U.S. and discusses some of the housing policies and programs that municipal leaders are using to combat it. Learn more here.


Poverty & Race: Reflections on Kerner at 50

6/18/18 – The Poverty & Race Research Action Council’s (PRRAC) most recent issue of Poverty & Race featured reflections from several speakers at our Race and Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50 conference held in March 2018 in Baltimore and Berkeley, including Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. Learn more here.


Opportunity Zones Are Knocking: Will Baltimore Be Prepared?

6/5/18 – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 established a new, federal tax incentive for Opportunity Zones intended to spur investment in low-income communities. For cities like Baltimore, Opportunity Zones have the potential to be a valuable resource for inclusive growth. This white paper provides an overview and update of the Opportunity Zones program and current efforts underway in Baltimore, as well as recommendations for how the city can take full advantage of the program. Learn more here.

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