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Baltimore Region Misses on $70M Federal Tech Hub Bid

The region’s designation as a federal tech hub was dealt a blow as it missed out on up to $70 million in funding that business leaders hoped would spur additional investment and help create thousands of jobs.

The Inner Harbor in Baltimore.
Flickr/ Bossi
(TNS) — The Baltimore region’s designation as a federal tech hub was dealt a blow as it missed out on up to $70 million in funding that business leaders hoped would spur additional investment and help create tens of thousands of jobs.

Baltimore and seven surrounding counties were chosen in October along with 30 other cities or regions for the federal Tech Hubs Program. That enabled the area to compete for a share of $10 billion in federal funding over five years as it seeks to gain recognition as a center for artificial intelligence and biotechnology.

But Baltimore did not make a second round in which about $504 million in grants will go to 12 tech hubs in states such as Colorado, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Montana, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Tuesday.

A consortium leading Baltimore’s initiative had sought $70 million, the maximum available to regions in the second round, with a local match of $7.7 million. The region’s five proposed projects would create a sustainable pipeline of workers, establish state-of-the-art biomanufacturing plants, and support entrepreneurship and innovation.

But the door to future funding as one of 31 hubs has not closed, said Mark Anthony Thomas, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, which organized the initial bid developed by business and technology leaders.

“While we are disappointed that the Baltimore Region’s proposal was not funded in this round, we will receive a $500,000 federal grant to support our reapplication in the next round,” Thomas said Tuesday in a statement.

That grant will give the region more time to strengthen its case for the next phase, he said. The hubs collectively had submitted 182 projects representing $2 billion in requests. The White House and the Commerce Department have requested $4 billion in funding for requests in the next phase.

The Tech Hubs Program, a Biden administration initiative, aims to invest in and boost tech economies in overlooked communities across the country and make them globally competitive in emerging technologies. Some of those “overlooked” communities include rural, tribal, industrial and disadvantaged areas, Vice President Kamala Harris said in Tuesday’s announcement.

“These 12 Tech Hubs will play a critical role in accelerating America’s leadership in the industries of the future, all while creating high quality, family-sustaining 21st century jobs in people’s backyards,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a news release.

Estimated grants to the dozen regions range from $19 million to $51 million.

The 31 identified Tech Hubs have attracted more than $4 billion in investment commitments.

The CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in August 2022, authorized $10 billion for the federal program over five years. So far, $541 million has been appropriated for program administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

“If subsequent funding becomes available, [the Economic Development Administration] plans to invest in additional Tech Hubs, keeping this innovative program’s momentum going for decades to come,” the Commerce Department said in Tuesday’s announcement.

The Baltimore region’s proposed projects were expected to create 32,700 direct jobs and 65,600 supplier and induced jobs across various skill levels and sectors over 10 years, according to the Greater Baltimore Committee.

The region had planned to focus on technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning on health data for applications such as diagnostics and drug development.

Numerous local tech firms, academic institutions, state and local government entities, economic development organizations and workforce development groups have committed to forming and supporting Baltimore’s hub.

Thomas said the region’s application has received more than 100 letters of support, outlining commitments totaling more than $800 million. That includes direct investments, matched support from tech hub projects and partners that plan to align existing investments to support hub initiatives.

© 2024 Baltimore Sun. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.