Every Father's Day, Sen. Ben Cardin said, he gets to be the one to decide what the day holds for him and his wife. So on Sunday, the two walked the Inner Harbor, with Cardin taking note of how crowded the restaurants lining the water were — a welcome change from recent weeks, he said.
"The riots in Baltimore were devastating," he said. "You're going to see the results of that in the number of students attending Baltimore colleges this fall, in the number of conventions hosted here and the number of people sitting in Baltimore restaurants.
"But it'll all come back. We have to recognize that being on international screens for five days has consequences. Businesses have to overcome that."
Cardin spoke with members of the Baltimore business community Monday morning at a town hall meeting focused on the city's recovering business climate, as well as legislation that could affect the area economy.
"It's important to hear what Washington is doing these days and how they can make an impact on the local business community," said Joe Wendel, treasurer of the Carroll-Camden Business Association and co-chair of programming at Financial Executives International, the two groups that hosted the event.
On June 12, Gov. Larry Hogan received a letter stating the Federal Emergency Management Agency had denied the state's request for disaster aid to cover costs connected with the riots. Hogan has estimated that the unrest had a $30.5 million economic impact on the city, while more than 380 businesses were damaged.
"The FEMA determination would've made loans available to help with certain costs," Cardin said. "It would be additional tools to help the community recover. It's important that it be done and I disagree with the decision made. There are appeals Governor Hogan can go through and he will have my support."
Cardin also discussed the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which is up for reauthorization June 30. The export credit agency has been called "corporate welfare" by opponents, while supporters laud it as a tool to help American businesses succeed internationally.
"Ex-Im has the support of the majority of Congress," Cardin said. "It has the opposition of a right-wing group. It's part of their effort to restrict government as much as humanly possible. … This should not be a controversial issue, and many of us are talking about holding up a lot of things until we can get Ex-Im to reauthorize — that's how passionately we feel about it."
Cardin also touched on reforming tax code, the importance of affordable higher education and the recently proposed BALTIMORE Act, which aims to repair the relationship between communities and law enforcement.
"Clearly, Baltimore has its challenges, but it has the potential to be a world-class city," said Frank Giachini, who serves on the board of Financial Executives International. "We need to focus on what is good in terms of business, put the last few months behind us and get back to making sure Baltimore actually works."