On April 4, 2016, a group of Baltimore, Maryland-area businesses unveiled a sweeping new plan aimed at harnessing their collective influence to help strengthen the city and create opportunities for Baltimoreans.
Under the plan, known as BLocal, 25 organizations pledge to expand their investment in Baltimore by spending more on design and construction contracts with local and minority- and women-owned businesses, hiring residents from the city’s most distressed communities, and spending more of the companies’ purchasing dollars with local vendors and women- and minority-owned businesses.
BLocal, which includes HopkinsLocal, the broad economic inclusion plan launched last year by Johns Hopkins, will infuse at least $69 million into the targeted areas over the next three years – an investment that will support the construction and renovation of new projects, and the purchase of goods and services from area vendors, as well as other commitments around the city.
“HopkinsLocal is our comprehensive approach to leverage Johns Hopkins’ economic power to do more to build, buy, and hire locally,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University. “Building on that promise, BLocal aims to help bolster a local economy, not on a project-by-project basis, but through a collective, deep-seated change approach.”
Daniels is the co-chair of the local investment effort with Ronald R. Peterson, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and Calvin G. Butler Jr., chief executive officer of BGE. “BGE’s roots in Baltimore go back 200 years and we are committed to the city’s stability, economic vitality and community spirit,” said Butler. “Our commitment is made stronger by joining with others who care deeply for Baltimore to share knowledge and help direct resources where they make the biggest difference. BLocal gives us a platform to make important and meaningful connections.”
BLocal, which is made up of a wide range of companies, emerges as Baltimore continues to respond to tensions and unrest that erupted in parts of the city nearly one year ago. While the BLocal partners all have significant existing community impact programs, the leaders of these firms believed that they could do more together and are launching this initiative with a deep commitment to helping Baltimore become a city where all of its residents have an opportunity to prosper.
“BLocal was initially inspired by a group of Johns Hopkins Trustees led by Mike Hankin, president and CEO of Brown Advisory,” said Peterson. “As Mike reached out to other Hopkins Trustees leading major companies in Baltimore, it quickly became apparent that many businesses in the city are committed to expanding opportunities and looking for ways to provide an even stronger economic engine for the people of Baltimore.”
As a group, the BLocal companies expect to invest an initial $53 million in renovation and construction projects, and $16 million in goods and services purchased from businesses headed by local and MWBEs through 2019. That investment is expected to grow as more of the BLocal partners determine exactly how much they will invest in the initiative and in what areas.
“I applaud the leadership of Johns Hopkins and the companies who have committed to the BLocal initiative,” Congressman Elijah E. Cummings said. “This innovative partnership will help rebuild Baltimore by providing real economic opportunity to our residents.”
In one of the most promising commitments, a number of the 25 companies have come together to offer a Contractors College that will provide construction and business training for small, local – minority owned, women owned and disadvantaged – Baltimore based businesses. This program is intended to help these firms grow the key competencies and relationships necessary to drive future growth.
“Growing economic opportunities for everyone, especially those for whom race and class has long been a barrier for progress, is key to the success of our city,” said Michael Cryor, chair of OneBaltimore. “The commitments being made by BLocal are impressive, and we look forward to working together to lift the barrier and generate those success stories.”
Baltimore Inner Harbor photo by Storm Cunningham