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$50M fund established to spur development in depressed areas of Baltimore

A state economic development agency and two local financial advisory firms are raising a $50 million fund for real estate projects in parts of the city and state with high poverty and unemployment.

The Maryland Economic Development Corp., known as MEDCO, is launching the Maryland Targeted Communities Investment Fund along with Baltimore-based Bengur Bryan & Co. and Annapolis-based Wye River Group. The fund aims to attract investors looking not just to receive modest returns but to have a positive social impact, MEDCO Executive Director Robert Brennan said.

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"I'd like to think there's some people in Baltimore who want to participate in that success," Brennan said.

Organizers expect investors to include banks looking to satisfy federal requirements that they lend fairly in their communities; foundations, endowments, universities, corporations and wealthy individuals. They aim to finish raising the fund by this fall, Brennan said.

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The fund will focus largely on transit-oriented projects in Baltimore and Prince George's counties, Brennan said, though it may also invest in other types of development and other parts of the state. It will consider projects in areas designated as being eligible for the state's Sustainable Communities tax credit program, which covers large swaths of Baltimore.

"We're not holding ourselves to any formula," he said. "We're going to take opportunities as they're presented."

The state's Department of Commerce and Department of Housing and Community Development are making a $7.5 million investment in the fund.

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