Home is Where the Heart is
Greater Baltimore is rich in economic assets and opportunities. This fact underscores EAGB’s marketing program which is grounded on robust industry sectors that are the bedrock for the Region’s ability to continue to grow economic health and vitality. Greater Baltimore’s industry assets are highlighted in EAGB’s Industry Profiles, social media communications, and digital advertising – amplified both within and outside of the Region.
Without a doubt, another major asset for attracting and retaining talent, attracting investment, and attracting and retaining businesses is the quality of life that anyone working and/or living in the Region can enjoy. Greater Baltimore’s location in the heart of the east coast’s Mid-Atlantic region, a robust multi-modal transportation system, and a relatively low cost of living are all components that support economic growth.
An element that adds significantly to the Region’s quality of life is the diversity and affordability of the housing stock. The compactness of Greater Baltimore’s seven-jurisdiction region, at just over 2,500 square miles, affords residents the ability to choose to live in a rural setting, a waterfront home, or a rowhome in one of Baltimore’s many neighborhoods.
EAGB asked two of its partner organizations - Harford County Office of Community and Economic Development and Live Baltimore - each representing jurisdictions with very different physical and demographic profiles, to respond to the following questions about residential options and their importance to economic growth in their respective county or city:
- What is the most positive aspect of housing in your jurisdiction for attracting businesses and talent?
- Given your location, what is the biggest challenge in “marketing” housing to prospective businesses, employees and talent?
- What housing information is most sought after by companies and/or individuals looking to move to your jurisdiction?
- What would enhance the attractiveness of living in your jurisdiction, e.g.: more retail, better transportation, schools, etc.?
Their responses follow.
Harford County has a population of approximately 260,000 and a nationally recognized Agricultural Land Preservation program that has 60,000 acres preserved for farming or forestation uses.
Len Parrish, Director of the Harford County Office of Community and Economic Development, responds below:
1. The most positive aspect of housing for attracting businesses and talent to Harford County is probably the fact that our housing stock has diversified, but the single-family home still reigns supreme and is generally a bit more affordable than most of the other counties in the Baltimore region. This helps us capture dual income couples seeking quality of life, good schools, a low crime rate, etc., and as such we tend to retain these wage earners during their peak earning years.
2. Our biggest challenge in marketing housing is a lack of inventory. Our average days on the market was in the teens in November and while that has creeped up a bit since then the lack of inventory remains an issue.
3. The housing information most sought after is where growth is expected to go. We have a defined development envelope that stretches along the southern portion of our county around I95 and Route 40 (our Science and Security Corridor) and then north along Route 24 into Bel Air. In that area we are able to provide the proper utility coverage, broadband internet, shopping, and all of the expected services that go along with housing. Aberdeen is certainly seen as a future growth area. As the home to Aberdeen Proving Ground, the County's largest employer, and with a new freestanding medical center under construction, Aberdeen is expected to bring 1000+ new units online in the coming years.
4. As far as enhancing services, we always look to expand our housing stock in terms of diversity of units, and we certainly look to make improvements to our public transportation. We are looking to expand both our transportation's service area and the hours of operation to continue to connect our constituents from their homes to their jobs and back.
Baltimore City, with just under 600,000 residents, is the Region’s densely populated urban core. The City is home to 13 colleges and universities, professional sports teams, and many historic and cultural resources.
Annie Milli, Executive Director of Live Baltimore, replies to our questions, below:
1. One of the aspects of Baltimore City housing that businesses and talent find most attractive is our neighborhood walkability. An independent rating agency called Walk Score evaluates neighborhoods across the country to determine how car dependent they are. On a scale of 0 to 100, the City, as a whole, rates a 64—making us the 10th most walkable large city in the United States. Within the City, 196 neighborhoods score better than 50 (making them not car dependent). And a handful of neighborhoods, including Mount Vernon and Downtown, score an almost perfect 98. For residents looking to live without four wheels, there’s no regional comparison to Baltimore City.
2. Certainly, our biggest difficulty in marketing Baltimore City’s housing is overcoming misinformation. For example, many businesses and individuals are unaware of the neighborhoods with larger, single-detached homes throughout the City. There’s a common misconception that Baltimore is all rowhomes—and this simply isn’t true. In fact, while detached houses make up only 12% of the City’s housing units, predominantly detached neighborhoods take up about a third of the City’s land mass. Another misconception is that Baltimore only offers older homes. In fact, there’s a tremendous number of new townhomes being built in the East and Southeast. People need to be able to picture what their lifestyle will be when choosing a place to live. Unfortunately, the everyday realities of Baltimore City’s diverse and prosperous neighborhoods aren’t what people typically see portrayed. That can be a challenge, which is why Live Baltimore exists.
3. Companies and individuals have an awareness about the City’s many, generous financial incentive programs for homebuyers and they are often seeking more information. We get a lot of questions about down payments assistance programs as well as about renovation programs for our many historic homes. Of course, businesses and prospective residents also want to know about which neighborhoods will match their employees’ or their own lifestyles. What areas are most convenient for commuting? Which offer the most value, in terms of affordability and nearby amenities? Which are best for residents with children?
4. More and better retail offerings would greatly enhance the attractiveness of City neighborhoods. For decades, commercial businesses have clustered around the beltway, making them less accessible to Baltimore residents. Those areas with new retail developments, like Canton, Locust Point, and now Greektown and Bayview, really demonstrate the connection between amenities and residential demand. Another thing would be more new housing to meet the market’s demand for new construction. While there are many townhomes going up, our research shows that there would be a strong market for new detached homes within city limits.
These two jurisdictions demonstrate the diverse residential landscape found throughout Greater Baltimore, providing current and future residents a wide range of housing options and a lower cost of living, an important asset for attracting and retaining talent to support the Region’s strategic growth industries. In the market? Explore the Region’s jurisdictions today: https://www.greaterbaltimore.org/our-jurisdictions