Community Advocacy Wins Major Additional Commitments from Port Covington Development

September 14, 2016

By Henry Bogdan, Public Policy Director, Maryland Nonprofits

Last week representatives from the South Baltimore Six (SB6), the six communities most impacted by the Port Covington redevelopment plan, announced an agreement with project developer Sagamore Development Corporation (SDC) on a community benefits memorandum of understanding. The MOU appears to pave the way for approval of the largest such project in the City’s history. Major details of the agreement, and the enhancements reached in negotiations between the communities and the

are summarized below. A key unstated lesson is that well-organized community-based advocates can win even when dealing with apparently irresistible economic and political forces.

The “South Baltimore Six,” with supporting arguments from other parties (including Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) who endorsed the agreement, the ACLU, Maryland Working Families and labor groups not satisfied with the result), leveraged enough political support from City elected officials to force negotiations resulting in significant gains beyond the developer’s earlier commitments.

A key thrust of the negotiated amendments cited by the community leaders was to change hiring and other commitments from “goals” to “mandates“ in the final agreement. 

The agreement includes: 

  • $39,000,000

    in direct
    benefits to the six surrounding communities of Port Covington (The SB6)
  • $55,000,000 in other direct city-wide benefits including workforce development initiatives, education programs, college scholarships, recreation facilities and youth summer jobs
  • $6,500,000 in incremental costs for prevailing wages agreed to by Sagamore.

The new funding commitments announced were $25 million in funding for new workforce development initiatives and $10 million for a venture loan or equity fund to invest in early-stage, minority and women-owned (MBE/WBE) companies in Baltimore. This includes a micro-lending program to provide 0% loans to Baltimore entrepreneurs. These commitments are in addition to $69 million in commitments from the prior proposal and $35.4 million in acquisition costs for land dedicated to public use, as well as the $6.5 million in a commitment on Prevailing Wages.

Beyond the expanded MBE/WBE efforts to be funded, other new or increased community commitments in the agreement include: increased level of inclusionary/affordable housing; increased commitment to targeted/local hiring (including new Workforce Development and Workforce Opportunities Centers); a commitment to assist the improvement of educational resources in the communities; and eleven other commitments to community benefits or enhancements. 
Both the complete amended final agreement and a summary listing the new additional commitments (prepared by local news sources) are available.

Follow Maryland Nonprofits on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
Looking for a new nonprofit career? Follow @MDNonprofitJobs.