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Report: Downtown Baltimore plays big economic role

Downtown Baltimore
Downtown Baltimore (Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun)

Downtown Baltimore continues to play an outsized role in the city's economy, generating about 17 percent of its property taxes and housing nearly 30 percent of its businesses, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore said in an economic impact report released Monday.

The nonprofit, which is charged with improving the district, released a similar analysis in 2010. Many of the trends it observed then continue to hold, it said.

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The partnership defines downtown as the area within a one-mile radius of the intersection of Pratt and Light streets. The area is home to more than 43,000 people and contains more than 5,600 businesses, which employ about 118,700 people — about 35 percent of the Baltimore workforce.

Property owners in the area contribute about $122.2 million in annual property taxes, and more than three quarters of the city's hotel and parking taxes.

"It just confirms the centrality of our downtown," said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership. "We need to put numbers to the opinion and that's what we're doing again."

About 32 percent of the employees downtown live in the city, and another 30 percent commute from Baltimore County. About 43 percent identify as African-American or another racial or ethnic minority.

Fowler said the report's data on tax revenue and demographics show why it's important to invest in downtown, even as the city faces competing priorities.

"There's high return on investment when funds are directed towards downtown infrastructure," he said. "That investment spins off to benefit the entire city.

"That is not the case in every neighborhood."

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