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Business advocacy groups Greater Baltimore Committee and Economic Alliance to merge – Baltimore Sun

The Greater Baltimore Committee and the Greater Baltimore Economic Alliance announced plans to merge on Wednesday, saying a unified approach is needed to spur economic opportunity and address long-standing issues.

By joining forces, business advocacy groups said they would be in a better position to help the Baltimore area compete and thrive not just locally, but nationally and internationally. They are committed to developing strategies to achieve equitable, dynamic, and sustainable economic impact that benefits the Baltimore community.

Calvin G. Butler Jr., chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said the region needs a single, comprehensive organization with a clear inclusive vision to ensure sustainable growth in local communities, stronger civic engagement, and an environment prosperous for neighborhoods and businesses.

The region is rich in various industrial sectors, but lacks a coherent organizational structure, strategy and operating plan, he said.

“Our issues are the same, because the city and the region – it’s crime, education, workforce development, job creation, economic development – these don’t have not changed,” Butler, a senior executive at Exelon Corp., said during a virtual press conference. Wednesday afternoon. “What we’re suggesting here is that the business community has the opportunity to have a greater voice in shaping these solutions.”

The business community must recommit to driving a “narrative of opportunity” that emphasizes the region’s assets, physical attributes and people, said Brian D. Pieninck, president of the economic alliance, during of the call to the media.

“The conversation in Baltimore always seems to start with challenges,” said Pieninck, president and CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield.

He said the organizations complement each other in that GBC has focused on advocacy and policy, while the alliance has focused on research and marketing.

GBC has worked to improve the region’s business climate by organizing business and civic leaders to address economic growth, job creation, workforce development, transportation, business climate and quality of life. The GBC has more than 500 member companies, non-profit groups, and educational and civic institutions.

The alliance sought to bring together leaders from business, government, education and non-profit organizations to promote economic development.

Butler, Exelon’s senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, became president in October 2020 and is committed to working to improve racial equity and inclusion in businesses across the region.

He said his hope for the newly merged business alliance, which will initially retain the Greater Baltimore committee name and downtown office, will be to attract a broader group of stakeholders, neighborhoods, organizations to nonprofits, faith groups, and educational and medical institutions. , to work to solve problems.

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“Every corner of our city and region that has a stake in the outcome needs to have a voice at the table,” he said. “We have operated in silos, and we need to break them down to be successful.”

Each board has agreed to the merger, and the legal formation of a new organization is expected to be completed by next month. But the full transition could take place next year as board members solicit feedback and hire consultants to create a new board, brand and plans. A committee, in conjunction with a consultant, will launch a search for an executive to lead the new organization by June 1.

The merger plans come at a time when the GBC was set to undergo a change in management.

Donald C. Fry, who has led the organization for nearly two decades, said earlier this month that he plans to retire on June 1. Fry, chairman and chief executive of the GBC for more than 19 years and former executive vice-chairman, is the second-longest-serving executive in the group’s 67-year history.

The alliance’s current CEO, economic development specialist Michele L. Whelley, will leave the position she was appointed to in January 2019 to continue in private consulting, Pieninck said.

Both groups said the pandemic and the urgency to find new approaches to problems influenced their decision to merge, although conversations about a potential merger and the need to move away from fragmentation took place informally. over the years, Pieninck said.

“The cornerstone of this merger is the shared belief that much more can be done together to foster the economic development and sustainable growth of the region, as well as a shared commitment to deliver greater and more equitable impact and benefits for diverse communities in the region,” said Pieninck. .