BALTIMORE – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) today were joined by Mayor Brandon Scott and community leaders at the historic Pennsylvania Avenue Market to highlight a new federal investment of $2 million they worked to secure for the Market. These funds will go directly to revitalizing the market and will help provide access to healthy foods for area residents, support local entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses and provide more jobs, and sustain farms across the metro area. Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Mfume fought to deliver this investment as part of the FY2022 omnibus funding legislation enacted last month.
“As a result of Team Maryland’s recent successful efforts to deliver congressionally directed spending to the people of Baltimore, important neighborhoods like Upton and Penn North and Sandtown will have a brighter future. We are committed to these West Baltimore communities and these neighborhoods. Today is not the first time you’ve seen the results. We recently announced similar transformational investments nearby at P.S. 103, Thurgood Marshall’s elementary school, and in East Baltimore, where we have provided the spark for new community health and wellness centers. Our congressional delegation has taken seriously the responsibility of identifying and delivering directed spending for Maryland. And, in turn, we have delivered substantial new federal investments in communities throughout the state,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.
“Investing federal dollars in our communities has the power to create new jobs and spur greater opportunity. That’s why I fought to secure this $2 million investment to breathe new life into the storied Avenue Market, as we continue working to revitalize West Baltimore. Alongside the efforts of our community partners, these funds will support small businesses and the local economy while increasing access to healthy food for families living nearby,” said Senator Van Hollen, who included these funds in his Fiscal Year 2022 Congressional Directed Spending priorities.
“This is a Team effort. Our federal team delivers over and over again,” said Congressman Mfume. “For me it’s personal because I grew up on Division Street. I got my first job at this market to help support my younger sisters after my mother died. All of those businesses growing up meant so very much and bringing businesses back will have a great impact today on this historic market, keeping it vibrant and alive.”
The history of the Avenue Market in the Upton neighborhood of West Baltimore can be traced back 150 years. Founded in the late 19th century, it is one of six Baltimore public markets, the oldest continuously operating system in the United States. Today, the median income of the residents within a half-mile radius of the market is $32,245 – 58 percent lower than the median household income in Baltimore City. As such, households are less likely to own or have access to a vehicle and have few nearby markets from which to buy affordable fresh food. The revitalization of this market, supported by this $2 million direct federal investment, can serve as the bridge between Baltimore’s many urban farms and community gardens and the residents who need access to healthy food.
“I want to thank our Federal Delegation – the best Federal Delegation in the Country – for securing $2 million towards redeveloping this crucial community hub of West Baltimore’s historic Pennsylvania Avenue corridor,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “By providing space to emerging businesses, we create jobs, economic growth, and sustainable wealth generation in and for our communities. We are paving the way for an inclusive renaissance in West Baltimore and throughout the City.”
“This investment will ensure that the long tradition and history of Baltimore’s public markets carries on, and that they continue to support diverse neighborhoods across the city – including the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor,” said Colin Tarbert, President and CEO, Baltimore Development Corporation. “I’m thankful to our federal lawmakers for making this investment possible. I’m also grateful to the customers of this market, as well as its vendors, who work hard every day for West Baltimore residents.”
“This funding allows the Baltimore Public Markets to begin the community-guided redevelopment of Avenue Market at the beginning of 2023, with a scheduled completion date in mid-2024. The focus will be on affordable and healthy food and providing opportunities for neighborhood entrepreneurs to build businesses that lead to the creation of generational wealth,” said Paul Ruppert, President & CEO, Baltimore Public Markets Corporation.
“Our organization runs Fresh At The Avenue, which is the only stall in the Avenue Market that currently sells fresh produce,” said Ashiah Parker, Executive Director, No Boundaries Coalition. “For us, it is a lot more than just grabbing an apple. We do workforce development and it is a gathering place – it’s a place where young folks can see that ‘this is my community and I should foster it.’ Investing in organizations who have direct impact on our community members should be the number-one priority for our elected officials, and that’s why I’m so grateful to our federal delegation today for supporting one of our greatest community assets: the Avenue Market.”
“We thank all our elected partners for understanding the importance of redeveloping the historic Pennsylvania Avenue. Your continued support for improving the quality of life in our communities means the world to us,” said Wanda Best, Executive Director, Upton Planning Committee. “It is important that the Avenue Market be a flagship operation in this effort, and we will make sure that the community is engaged in all aspects of the development. Personally, as a practicing dietician for 40 years, promoting good nutrition is near and dear to my heart, so I expect to see more fresh fruits and vegetables in Central West Baltimore.”
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