Neil M. Meltzer, president and CEO of LifeBridge Health, was the recipient of the 16th annual William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year Award at a luncheon presented June 12 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Jmore was a co-sponsor of the event, which drew more than 250 community and business leaders.
Past recipients of the award include the late Rep. Helen Delich Bentley (R-2nd), Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, businessman and philanthropist Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. and Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO of the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.
“Baltimore is once again at a crossroads, and we once again need champions,” said Anita Kassof, the BMI’s executive director. “That’s why we are so proud to honor Neil Meltzer today as our William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year. He is just the type of champion that Baltimore needs right now.”
Among the political leaders in attendance were Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, City Council President Brandon M. Scott, Del. Brooke Lierman (D-46th) and City Councilman Eric T. Costello (D-11th), as well as a representative of the office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Young praised Meltzer as “someone I hold in high esteem,” and called LifeBridge Health “a true anchor institution” with a strong commitment to the Park Heights and Pimlico communities.
“I want to thank Neil Meltzer and LifeBridge for their support and commitment to the city,” the mayor said. “You could not have picked a better recipient for the William Donald Schaefer Award. Thank you on behalf of the city of Baltimore.”
Introduced by Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL-TV, Meltzer said he was “truly honored” to receive the award named after the late governor and mayor largely credited for Baltimore’s renaissance in the 1970s.
“As then-Mayor Schaefer sought to transform the harbor from withering warehouses and forgotten factories into a destination filled with shops, restaurants and attractions, he knew that we needed to preserve the history of industry,” Meltzer said. “He became an early supporter of this very museum, which turned an oyster cannery into an amazing showplace to chronicle and celebrate the businesses, as well as the men and women, who built the Baltimore.”
Meltzer spoke about the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, which razed more than 1,500 buildings, destroyed approximately 2,500 businesses and burned 140 acres of downtown real estate.
Still, he noted, city leaders put together a plan of rebuilding and renewal, and held a parade to celebrate Baltimore’s recovery in September of 1906 featuring 1,400 firefighters.
“It was a defining moment in our history,” Meltzer said. “2019 may feel like another one of those moments. We’ve been through a lot over the last few years. But as Baltimore came together after the Great Fire of 1904, we also have the opportunity — if not the obligation — to come together to move our city forward.
“Even if you live or work outside the city, you don’t get a pass,” he said. “The health of the city affects all of us. We must resist the temptation to pile on, and instead find opportunities, both as individuals and as industries.”
Meltzer said that LifeBridge remains committed to strengthening and empowering communities throughout the city and its contiguous counties.
He noted that LifeBridge partners with neighborhood groups such as Park Heights Renaissance to improve neighborhoods surrounding Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, as well as enhancing civic pride in communities around its facilities.
In addition, LifeBridge is moving forward with plans to construct a 100,000-square-foot outpatient facility on a 21-acre tract of land purchased from Pimlico Race Course.
“While we don’t know what will happen with the Preakness or with Pimlico, what we do know is that LifeBridge Health will stay on track as a champion for the Park Heights community and its residents,” Meltzer said. “It is our hope that this transformational vision for our Pimlico campus will be a catalyst for other development as part of a wider effort to revitalize Park Heights.
“But we cannot do it on our own,” he said. “We need leaders and businesses to come together, look for opportunities and invest in our communities.”
Referencing LifeBridge’s marketing catchphrase, Meltzer said, “Now is the time for all of us to ‘Care Bravely.’ Care Bravely means doing the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing. We care like there’s no tomorrow, and then do it again the next day. There are so many great things about our city, our region and our state. With joyous enthusiasm and civic pride, we must celebrate and embrace these things that make our area unique and special.
“The Industrialist of the Year award is truly about the industrial spirit in all of us, and the potential to make a positive impact on our communities in Baltimore, in Maryland and beyond. I thank you for this honor.”
Also honored during the program was Janet Novak, a BMI board of trustees member who was presented with the Harriet Bank Award.