Earvin “Magic” Johnson appears ready to score big in Baltimore, potentially bringing his influential business ventures to the Maryland city. Such a move could help revive the city, create jobs, and spur new economic development in the black community.
The news surfaced after several media outlets reported that the retired NBA Hall of Famer, who is now one of the nation’s top black businessmen, last month met with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to talk about investment opportunities. The mayor discussed some of her top prospects with Johnson, the Baltimore Sun reported. The meeting included talk of a movie theater at Mondawmin Mall and fresh tax breaks for investing in distressed neighborhoods. Other topics ranged from an investment fund backed by the city to a makeover of Perkins Homes, a public housing project.
Additionally, Pugh talked to Johnson about creating jobs for young people as well as business development, according to WBAL-TV. “We bring a retail and a housing option, which we call mix-use. That really jump-starts the redevelopment of urban corridors. And then others will come in, big boxes and others, will come in and invest in the city,” Johnson stated in an interview.
Johnson mentioned returning to Baltimore in September to tour the city. “I think there are about 10 to 15 things we can talk about and take it from there.” Pugh cited her meeting with Johnson in a Facebook posting. “I’m excited and looking forward to a great partnership that will bring jobs, growth, retail and most importantly move our city forward!”
Johnson became an NBA legend after his 13-year run with the Los Angeles Lakers. His career included winning five NBA championships and a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He is president of basketball operations for the Lakers. For years, Johnson has displayed his business prowess as an entrepreneur and investor since leaving the NBA.
His company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, is an investment powerhouse worth an estimated $1 billion. The company is involved in many urban development projects and business ventures, including deals with Starbucks and other businesses. A spokeswoman at Johnson’s office said there is no additional information at this time about investments in Baltimore.
Yet the city could show up on Johnson’s agenda for new investment. “I’ve already turned around Harlem. I was the first to invest in Brooklyn. Look what happened to Brooklyn,” Johnson told WBAL-TV. “Baltimore, you’re the magic city. Here comes the magic man.”