The Baltimore Metropolitan Council led its annual Chesapeake Connect trip, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wednesday, October 13 - Thursday, October 15, 2021. Chesapeake Connect brings leaders from across Baltimore region to a peer region for a three-day learning experience.
Over 60 leaders from across the region traveled by train from Baltimore Penn Station to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station for the event. The agenda included presentations by Philadelphia leaders, tours of parks and public assets, and visits to non-profits and development sites with lessons for the Baltimore region.
The first day of the program focused on West Philadelphia’s University City, and the decades of cooperative investment by the City of Philadelphia and anchor institutions like the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. The day ended with a visit to the Enterprise Center, one of the most innovative and successful urban entrepreneurship centers in the entire country.
Our second day started with executive briefings on Philadelphia’s efforts to equitable invest in broadband access and aging city assets. Those briefings were followed by a tour of Dillworth Park, a privately managed park just outside of Philadelphia’s historic City Hall. The group then split into small groups to visit neighborhood development sites, groundbreaking urban trails, a nationally recognized public art effort and the Navy Yard, one of the largest redevelopment efforts on the east coast.
Our final day in Philadelphia began with a discussion of regionalism with leaders from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. The program closed with a tour of FDR Park, Philadelphia’s only Olmstead park that is currently in the midst of a strategic redesign to better meet the needs of a growing and diverse immigrant community in South Philadelphia.
The City of Brotherly Love, shares many of the same strengths and challenges of the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Both places boast of vibrant cultural and university districts, some of the world’s leading research institutions and balance of urban living with attractive and desirable suburban communities.
However, both places struggle with the socio-economic impacts of redlining, a crisis of substance abuse, and deep rooted economic, health, and technology based disparities made clearer by the pandemic.
Like Baltimore, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and every neighborhood story is unique. Over the three day event, attendees heard first hand from Philadelphia’s leaders and decision makers about the wins, pitfalls and works in progress that define the Philadelphia region.
The 2021 trip came after the necessary cancellation of the 2020 Chesapeake Connect trip, slated for Minneapolis, Minnesota. In response to the worldwide pandemic and out of an abundance of caution, BMC repurposed the trip into the “Chesapeake Connect Podcast.” The podcast focuses on a deeper exploration of the Baltimore region, through conversations with elected officials, non-profits, local companies and WYPR’s Tom Hall.
Past trips have included Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA , and Cleveland, OH.
BMC will begin planning for Chesapeake Connect 2022 soon and will announce a destination and dates for the trip next spring. BMC is hopeful for another successful in person event.