June 23, 2024

2020 Year in Review

January 1, 2021
Clean Street Ambassador waving to camera in front of DPOB trash truck, next to DPOB trash can.

Over the past year, we doubled down on services to help our members, residents, stakeholders and community partners find new ways of doing business, having fun, staying safe, and connecting amid an unprecedented global pandemic that took our country by storm. The following list of accomplishments is about what happens when we all work together. I hope you’ll take a moment to take a look. After all, “DPOB” is more than an abbreviation for Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. It stands for all of us… the Downtown Partners, Organizers, and Businesses committed to a better Baltimore.

“DPOB” is more than an abbreviation for Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. It stands for all of us… the Downtown Partners, Organizers, and Businesses committed to a better Baltimore.

Advocacy Achievements

  • As co-chairs of Baltimore’s Small Business Recovery Taskforce, Shelonda and Councilman Costello, made it easier and cheaper for restaurants to open outdoor dining and successfully advocated for a cap on the high fee’s delivery services charged local restaurants.
  • We advocated state and local recovery funds and helped members learn what was available to help them.
  • We spread our hope and love Downtown by painting boarded up properties.
  • Hosted virtual roundtables for local attractions and cultural institutions and advocated for the Mayor’s Office to allow their reopening.


Events & Membership Achievements

  • Our Lobby Love program surprised more than 300 employees with free breakfast, swag, and giveaways – our way of saying thank you for working Downtown.
  • Our State of Downtown Webinar hosted over 300 attendees and provided economic development data and the region’s first COVID Impact Survey to help businesses plan for the future.
  • Our Virtual Annual Meeting reached over 8,000 people and highlighted 15 local sponsors.
  • Our Downtown Resident events hosted 7 small businesses and connected them to over 100 Downtown residents
  • We hosted 26 Downtown Download webinars that connected members directly to 45 top leaders from government, business, public health, and the arts, garnering 69,000 digital impressions, 21 media stories, and 2,885 attendees.
  • We lit up Downtown with a live televised version of our Annual Monument Lighting.
  • WE helped raise over $40,000 for Heart of the Park, a free meal program that supported local restaurants and provided over 15,000 free meals to those in need.
  • Raised over $40,000 for street beautification through our Street Pole Banner program.


Marketing & Communications Achievements

  • We earned 120 positive media hits for DPOB and 92 member companies and Downtown stakeholders, giving them tremendous promotional exposure.
  • We hosted 2020 Winter Restaurant Week which increased reservations and revenues for Baltimore restaurants.
  • At the start of the pandemic shutdown, we created the successful #CurbsideBaltimore hashtag and incentivized a gift-card program that gave restaurants and retail businesses cash up-front. This initiative helped restaurants and retailers cover 1-2 months’ rent.
  • Re-engineered Summer Restaurant Week by eliminating participation fees and opening the promotion to every food business in Baltimore.
  • We garnered positive media coverage for dozens of Downtown businesses, giving them tremendous promotional exposure.
  • Restaurant owners received a platform to speak about the challenges they are facing and we continue to advocate on their behalf through direct assistance, legislative changes, and this winter’s Rally Around Restaurant campaign with Visit Baltimore.
  • We created special recognition for Black-owned businesses through our webinars, social media, and Black Business Friday online event.
  • For the wildly successful Charles Street Promenade, we partnered with neighborhood organizations to close 14 blocks of historic street between Saratoga Street and North Avenue for a full Saturday to pedestrian support for shops and restaurants along the route.


Safety & Hospitality Achievements

  • Even during the pandemic Downtown Baltimore Guides (DBGs) averaged over 400 socially distanced citizen interactions a month and continued to provide: first responder assistance, homeless outreach, directions, crime information, and help in ten other citizen-assisting categories.
  • We expanded the Downtown Partnership Safety Net, a communications system for sixty Downtown stakeholders. This real-time messaging system was especially useful during the onset of the pandemic.
  • DPOB’s layered our DBG services private security to provide a maximum amount of coverage that was effective deterring crimes of opportunity.
  • Our hospitality and safety assets combined average over 1,700 business checks per week.
  • We have a full-time staff person in Citi-watch working with the police department to monitor a network of 88 security cameras.
  • We were awarded a large grant to assist the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services with getting homeless population into shelters or temporary hotel stays and supply PPE for Downtown homeless population to help prevent the spread of COVID.
  • Our hospitality teams are responsible for getting 6 homeless individuals into inpatient drug/alcohol abuse programs and three families into permanent housing.


Clean & Green Achievements

  • Early in the pandemic, our teams were deemed Essential and we found new ways to keep them safe while keeping the 106-block Downtown Management Authority (DMA) district clean, green, and safe.
  • Our team collected 312 trash cans a day for 7 days a week. Through that effort, and larger bulk trash removal, we collected more than 500 tons of trash last year.
  • The Parks Team maintained Downtown’s public spaces, installed new dog runs, and planted more than 10,000 seasonal flowers.
  • To cut down on illegal or inconsiderate dumping, we worked with refuse haulers and businesses to improve conditions in more than 41 alleys. Next, we have plans to turn many of these areas into festive gathering places called “alleyways.
  • Hosted community clean up days. We whacked weeds, groomed trees, pruned, mulched, and planted more than 2,500 flowers.


Economic Development & Capital Improvement Achievements

  • We completed physical improvements to along Pratt Street with completion of multi-year McKeldin Plaza renovations and Streetscape improvements in the 200 block.
  • We awarded over $105,000 in grants that supported community partners, small businesses, and local artists.
  • Our movable parklet has helped restaurants create space for outdoor dining, and we helped numerous businesses turn parking spaces into al fresco dining rooms
  • Through a series of grant awards and pass-through programs, including Community Legacy grants from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, we directly supported multiple new mixed-use development projects that added residences and retail in the Bromo Arts District, and the new headquarters for the Youth Empowered Society.
  • Our team administered over $40,000 in Façade Improvement grants, and a $5,000 TechConnect grant that supported a new Black-owned business at Market Place.
  • Activated a vacant storefront in Center Plaza to create Holiday retail pop-up shop to support 20+ Baltimore makers and show viability or storefront retail in that location.
  • Through the Bromo Arts District, we launched the Bromo Artist Relief Fund in April 2020 to provide 24 small grants to artists living or working in the district.