In the Middle East neighborhood of East Baltimore, years of trouble and despair are giving way to hope and promise, thanks to an $800-million revitalization effort aiming to bring biotech research, mixed-income housing, retail stores and social support services to this once-thriving area, all within the next 8-10 years.
East Baltimore Development, Inc., (EBDI) manages this massive effort. It’s a challenging task, considering the project’s scope and the sheer number of people involved. That’s why EBDI wanted a comprehensive strategic plan that would crystallize its vision for East Baltimore’s future, and provide a “roadmap” to guide them in achieving their goals. With so many people counting on them for success, EBDI counted on Managance to help facilitate this vital process.
“Right from the beginning, Managance understood that this plan had to be a living document,” said Jack Shannon, EBDI’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We needed a fairly detailed framework, yet it also had to be something we would use in the future.”
Putting the plan together involved input from a variety of groups, including EBDI’s Board of Directors and staff, city and government officials, and current East Baltimore residents. According to Robert C. Penn, EBDI’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Managance stood out from other consulting firms because of its steadfast belief in consensus building, and gathering input from everyone involved.
“They spent a tremendous amount of time getting to know us, and they wanted everyone to really own this plan,” Robert said. “They always said that their job was to facilitate – not to dictate.”
The process involved many deadlines, as well as testing ideas – and sometimes, changing course altogether. Alison Welch, who led EBDI’s consultant selection process, worked closely with Managance as the plan took shape. She said Managance “gracefully navigated everything that came along. There were a lot of deadlines that were getting pushed, but even so, Managance stayed true to its commitment to engage the entire organization in the process.”
Now that the strategic plan is in place, Managance is helping EBDI implement the action plans laid out in the main document. For example, a new committee structure has been crafted for EBDI’s Board of Directors. Managance worked with EBDI’s Executive Team to strengthen the partnership between EBDI’s Board and Staff. Managance also helped create a new position description for an EBDI staff member who will be responsible for measuring strategic plan results. Even now, people are taking notice of EBDI’s ambitious efforts. To celebrate EBDI’s fifth anniversary, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley issued a commemorative proclamation – using exact wording from the mission statement Managance helped to create.
“That alone says a lot about Managance,” Jack said. “This is a very complex project. It’s not easy to communicate the breadth and scope of what we’re doing in a way everyone understands. Managance helped us create a mission statement that – for the first time – really crystallizes who we are, and everything we’re trying to do.”
Jack credits Managance with making everyone connected with EBDI feel a greater sense of accomplishment.
“We now have a plan that helps us see where we’re going,” Jack said. “It lets everyone know the part they play in this long, complex process.”