The Port of Baltimore is poised for "tremendous" growth in the near future and Baltimore County officials want to make sure they are prepared to tap into the economic development potential of that growth.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on Wednesday announced the creation of the Sparrows Point Partnership, a task force that will advise the county on the "highest and best" uses for industrially zoned properties on the Sparrows Point peninsula closest to the Seagirt Marine Terminal.
The committee will also look at the impact of the port's expansion on manufacturing zoned property in the North Point, Essex, Rossville and Middle River areas, according to a statement from county officials.
"We want to be in a position to capitalize on the phenomenal growth of the Port of Baltimore," Baltimore County Department of Economic Development Director Dan Gunderson said Wednesday. "The port is poised to go through another stratosphere — it's going to, that's not conjecture — and given that, we want to make sure that southeastern Baltimore County is in a position to benefit."
The partnership, comprised of 16 "prominent business and private sector leaders," will advise county officials on future port-related needs, land use implications, infrastructure and environmental conditions, transportation logistics and business development opportunities, according to the statement.
"The Sparrows Point Partnership will give us input from business and development leaders and provide a better understanding of how Baltimore County can best capitalize on the tremendous growth and expansion at the Post of Baltimore," Kamenetz said in the statement, noting the port has deep water access, an interstate and rail network and the North Point Enterprise Zone to attract even more port-related businesses and jobs.
An enterprise zone is a specifically targeted area that provides incentives to business owners who choose to expand within or relocate to that area.
The committee will have its initial meeting within 30 days or so, Gunderson said, and begin putting together its findings and recommendations for study by county Economic Development staff members, according to Gunderson, who will chair the partnership.
"We're reaching out to the private sector experts to help guide us," Gunderson said. "We'll take their input, do a thorough analysis and from that, create a county strategy plan."
County officials hope to get a broad spectrum of input from the diverse group assembled to take on the task, Gunderson said.
Committee members will work through the summer with county staff members and perhaps some consultants to work through their research and do the analysis of that research, according to Gunderson.
The group will reconvene in the fall and hold as many meetings as needed to have a final report to Kamenetz by early 2013, he said.
"And it's important to note that this partnership's work is meant to complement existing businesses and services there, not compete with them" Gunderson said.
The end goal of the partnership, according to Gunderson, is "to have a very good understanding of the kinds of businesses that are possible in the area and then do what's possible to attract those businesses."
Sparrows Point Partnership Members:
David Bavar, Bavar Properties
M. Kathleen Broadwater, Deputy Executive Director, Maryland Port Administration
John Bulman, Sparrows Point Shipyard Industrial Complex
J. David Conrad, Corporate Director-Business Development, RG Steel
Michael Derby, General Manager, North Atlantic Operations, Wallenius Wilhelmsen
Donald Fry, President, Greater Baltimore Committee, Maryland Port Commissioner
Mike Galiazzo, President, Regional Manufacturing Institute
Harry Halpert, President, MTC Logistics
Michelle Lipkowitz, partner, Saul Ewing LLP
Joanna McGowan, President, W.M. Transport (White Marsh Transport)
John MacSherry, former Senior Vice President, Duke Realty Corporation
Aris Melissaratos, Senior Advisor to the President-Enterprise Development, The Johns Hopkins University
Mark Montgomery, President, Ports America Chesapeake
Tom Obrecht, Chairman, Blue & Obrecht Realty
James Van Derzee, Manager, Regional Development, CSX
Ted Venetoulis, Maryland Port Commissioner
Dan Gundersen Executive Director, Baltimore County Department of Economic Development