Donald Fry: Thankfully, Baltimore leads with substance over style in luring Google

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By Donald C. Fry

Baltimore City is aggressively competing for a major economic development opportunity that will create jobs and bring substantial new private investment to the city.

But this is not the usual effort to lure a big new plant or corporate headquarters to the city. It’s something even bigger – Google.

Google fiber, that is.

Baltimore’s political, technology, and business leaders are pulling out all the stops to convince Google executives that Baltimore is the perfect place to install Googles’ new high-speed fiber-optic cable.

Google is seeking to identify key cities for it to install, at its own expense, up to $1 billion in fiber optic infrastructure that offers cyberspace speeds 100-times faster than now experienced by most internet users.

Cities across the country are scrambling to get Google’s attention. One Midwest city even changed its name to “Google” for the month.

Baltimore, to its credit, is not leading with gimmicks to get Google’s attention. It’s going with a pitch that emphasizes substance over style. Everyone recognizes the competitive advantage that a state-of-the-art fiber optic infrastructure would bring to any city. But the fact is, Baltimore is a perfect fit for this project.

Our city is already the hub for a technology-rich business sector driven by one of the nation’s most highly-educated and tech-savvy workforces. Baltimore is also a top knowledge center where its world-renowned science and technology institutions attract the most research funding in the country.

Compelling reasons cited in a creative presentation that is part of the city’s pitch submitted to Google on March 26 range from Baltimore’s considerable intellectual and technology assets, such as leadership in telesurgery, to significant logistical advantages such as the city’s extensive fiber-ready conduit system.

More information on Baltimore’s pitch to Google can be found at

Our city’s elected leaders clearly recognize the major positive impact Google’s high-speed fiber could have on culture and quality of life. And Baltimore’s private-sector knows the business development value this kind of access and speed brings to an information-driven marketplace and we have the knowledge and capacity to put this resource to its highest and best use.

For Google, Baltimore is the right place at the right time. Let’s hope Google agrees.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Previous Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

Leave damaging transportation provisions out of the budget

Amended budget continues recession-induced fund shifts and stimulus rescue

General Assembly setting stage for combined reporting push in 2011

Wrong timing for proposal to change Baltimore City school board

Baltimore City isn’t alone in facing pension funding challenges

A government investment program that delivers

Proposed transportation fund raid -- a bad habit continues

Where's the outrage over crime?

Small business is where innovation lives
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Donald C. Fry has been the president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), the central Maryland region's most prominent organization of business and civic leaders, since November 2002.

Under Don’s leadership, the GBC is recognized as a knowledgeable and highly credible business voice in the Baltimore region, Annapolis and Washington, D.C. on policy issues and competitive challenges facing Maryland. Its mission is to apply private-sector leadership to strengthening the business climate and quality of life in the region and state.

Fry served as GBC executive vice president from 1999 to 2002. From 1980 to 1999 Fry was engaged in a private law practice in Harford County. During this time he also served in the Maryland General Assembly. He is one of only a handful of legislators to have served on each of the major budget committees of the General Assembly.

Serving in the Senate of Maryland from 1997 to 1998, Fry was a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee. As a member of the House of Delegates from 1991 to 1997 Fry served on the Ways and Means Committee and on the Appropriations Committee.

Fry is a 1979 graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. He earned a B.S. in political science from Frostburg State College.