Does A Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Examining BIDs and BID Partnerships in Downtown Baltimore

April 2021

This paper examines the economic development of downtown Baltimore in recent decades, specifically through the creation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and BID developments. Although Baltimore has invested millions of dollars into transforming its downtown district, is this economic transformation benefiting everyone in the city equally, particularly through job creation and job accessibility? Examining Baltimore’s management district (the Downtown Partnership), its BID (the Downtown Management Authority), and their partner organizations reveals that economic growth and job opportunities need to be more equally distributed throughout Baltimore, especially in terms of matching local residents to employment. This research draws on William Julius Wilson’s social isolation theory of poverty and Susanna Schaller’s neoliberal interpretation of BIDs and offers recommendations on how to make BIDs a more equitable urban renewal strategy.