CEOs love Baltimore

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SmartCEO launched this blog for CEOs to discuss the impact of the Baltimore riots and the Freddie Gray case. We want to know why you love Baltimore, why you believe in Baltimore, and why you will continue to lead our city and its people to new heights.

By contributing to this blog, it is our hope that through the voice of local business leaders, we are able to create positive national awareness for this great city.

For inclusion, submit your post and a professional head shot to

CraigBurrisCraig Burris, Founder and CEO, SmartCEO Media: Why I love Baltimore

This tragic situation has the potential to hurt the momentum that Baltimore has fought so hard to gain. While we are a city with problems, we are also a city with hope, with growth, with amazing thriving companies and leaders. The national news is portraying Baltimore through the ideas of politicians and the activists. The real leadership of Baltimore comes from the business community, and our vision for an exciting future for Baltimore needs to be heard.


Jack Steil

Jack E. Steil, CEO, 1st Mariner Bank: Why I Love Baltimore

Baltimore’s communities are real neighborhoods where people know one another, often for generations. We take pride in our nickname of “Smalltimore” because that sense of history and character connects us together in ways that larger cities cannot replicate.
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Mike Baynes, Founder, CEO and managing partner, Homeside Financial: Why I Love Baltimore

Baltimore is still one of America’s greatest cities! Time and again I have business colleagues from out of town tell me how much they love to visit. They love the appeal of the waterfront, the passion we have for our sports teams, and mostly the character of our people. Baltimore is home to the world’s best hospitals. We have fantastic colleges and universities that graduate talent ready to help grow our businesses. But we can be better! The terrible riots that were seen throughout the country were not our finest moment. Yet I remain confident that business leaders, political leaders, community leaders, and most importantly, families themselves will come together to get us back on track. #CEOsLoveBaltimore
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Jeff Chandler, President, American Technology Services: Why I Love Baltimore

Businesses moving to the city now have “an opportunity to play an important part in making Baltimore stronger,” writes Jeff Chandler, president of American Technology Services (ATS), in a letter to The Baltimore Sun. ATS has recently taken up residence at 250 W. Pratt Street and is “committed to expanding its services in the Baltimore area,” Chandler writes. He adds that businesses like ATS can help Baltimore solve the deep-seated socioeconomic problems that helped fuel the recent unrest. “Businesses like ours have to be leaders and not turn our backs at this most critical moment. Despite its current difficulties, Baltimore remains a vibrant place.” #CEOsLoveBaltimore
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PK Semler,
Chief Executive Editor and Owner,
 Capitol Intelligence Group, Inc.: Why I Love Baltimore

The images of rioting and National Guard soldiers with machine guns walking through the financial and tourist districts have certainly distorted the rarity of Baltimore. Baltimore business owners have taken the lead to transform the city into the new economic and business hub of the East coast, despite recent riots. Baltimore-based business leaders like Fred Newsome, founder of Newsome Gospel Music, and Hessa Perlman Tarry, CEO of Vac Pac have taken it upon themselves to spread the word of Baltimore's success and destiny for greatness in the world of business. While Baltimore residents are frustrated in the community, small business owners have struggled to show that the media has not accurately portrayed their great city. In fact, the city is bustling with new business, including investments from companies around the globe such as Seimens AG. Even in the "impoverished" area of Eastern Baltimore, there are signs of a major influx
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Dawn Motovidlak, President and CEO, Business Health Services: Why I Love Baltimore

Recent events in Baltimore have been unsettling, causing unrest both here at home and around the country. Baltimore is a beautiful, diverse city, full of local history and distinct neighborhoods and these events have made a lasting impact on everyone in the community. I have been a resident of Baltimore for more than 20 years and have grown attached to the warmth and welcoming nature of the people of this town. Although Baltimore is a major city, it has a close-knit community and small-town feel. Baltimore is a place where I continue to be proud to call home. My organization, Business Health Services (BHS), is a Baltimore-based company and national provider of behavioral health services, employee assistance programs, and wellness and coaching solutions, all with a focus on bettering lives. At BHS, we are familiar with helping others find support for issues of trauma, stress and critical incidents, but this
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Todd Marks, President and CEO, Mindgrub: Why I Love Baltimore

Mindgrub’s Baltimore Journey Mindgrub’s journey is one that has been influenced and facilitated by the city of Baltimore. Previously located in Catonsville, we moved to the neighborhood of Locust Point last year, both because it’s the geolocated epicenter of our employees’ commutes and an up-and-coming area that is home to new businesses, restaurants, and homes. The city made our decision to relocate even easier to make, as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore Development Corporation gave us a loan to help with moving expenses. We lucked into a great building developed by 28 Walker, furnished with energy efficient fixtures and systems for a reduced carbon footprint. In April, our Baltimore friends, family, and clients came out to support us at our housewarming party. Being located in Baltimore gives us access to some great clients: T. Rowe Price, Polk Audio, Johns Hopkins University, UMBC, McCormick, and more. We’re also positioned to
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Michael O. Brooks, CEO and chairman, Brooks Financial Group, Inc.: Why I Love Baltimore

“But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) “I will instruct you and show you the way to go, with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” (Psalm 32:8) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) The events of the past weeks in Baltimore — our town, our home, and our community — are upsetting and sad. There are so many factors contributing to the expressions released by our city’s citizens and leaders, triggered by the untimely death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing investigations. My point of sharing today is not to speak to the destructive works that took place or the challenges associated with bringing about
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Jonathan Ehrenfeld, President, Blue Ocean Realty: Why I love Baltimore

Baltimore is a mature city with tremendous infrastructure, great communities and thriving institutions. Yet, unlike many other cities, there still remain many areas of opportunity to make a meaningful impact – both in business and community. #CEOsLoveBaltimore
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Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, UMBC: Why I love Baltimore

Baltimore is a vibrant community, home to people from all over the world. We are enriched by the range of experiences and viewpoints represented in our city. We have leading universities and medical centers that drive our economy through research and job creation. We are known for our strength in such areas as healthcare, cybersecurity, biotechnology and the environment. On my own campus, UMBC, students come from more than 100 countries, and many of our graduates remain in Baltimore. They work at such companies as T. Rowe Price and Northrop Grumman, for federal agencies from the National Security Agency to the Social Security Administration, and for nonprofits, public schools and local governments. Our alumni and many other young entrepreneurs start their own companies, benefitting from the resources and support of regional research parks and incubators, from bwtech@UMBC and the UMB Biopark to Betamore and the Emerging Technology Center. They also
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Jay Steinmetz, CEO, Barcoding Inc.: Why I love Baltimore

The best way to help the residents of Baltimore’s poor neighborhoods is to attract more businesses to the city that will employ them, writes Jay Steinmetz, CEO of Barcoding Inc., in the Wall Street Journal. But to get there, the city has some work left to do: “Maryland still lags most states in its appeal to companies,” partly due to a high tax burden and unfair penalties for business owners, such as fines for triggered building alarms or graffiti that isn’t removed promptly, he writes. “People making good wages, working at jobs they are proud of, don’t destroy themselves or the place where they live,” Steinmetz writes. “We have the political and business talent to rebuild one of America’s great cities, once we focus on creating the conditions for job growth.” #CEOsLoveBaltimore
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