In 2015, Johns Hopkins University and Health System and its corporate and anchor peers felt an urgent need to respond to the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. The question was: How can the city’s organizations and businesses support job and small business development?
This question spurred the birth of two initiatives: Hopkins Local is Johns Hopkins’ commitment to hire locally, purchase locally and use diverse vendors for construction projects. BLocal arose when Johns Hopkins helped convene 27 major businesses, including Baltimore Gas & Electric, which made similar commitments to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing the city and region.
In a short time, HopkinsLocal has increased its spending with local vendors by more than $20 million and hired more than 600 Baltimore residents into specific positions, from lab technicians to administrative coordinators, over two years. When working with businesses that are not in Baltimore, Hopkins has leveraged its economic power to ensure these firms commit to local hiring, purchasing and other types of investments in the city. Likewise, BLocal experienced early success in its first year, investing $86 million in the local economy and exceeding its three-year goal of $69 million.
While spending more locally and encouraging businesses that are not local to commit to local outcomes was a strong first step, there was more work to be done. Recognizing the need for a training program with a broad scope, members of BLocal developed the BLocal BUILD College (BUILD College), a training program for small, local, minority and/or woman-owned firms in the design and construction industries. Taught by BLocal and BUILD College partners, the program provides training that fosters the development of key competencies and facilitates relationships necessary for sustainable growth. This program is held twice a year and has graduated 66 companies since September 2016.
Shortly after the launch of the BUILD College, Johns Hopkins joined a partnership with Morgan State University and the Community College of Baltimore County. Together they announced the launch of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program in Baltimore, sponsored by Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg Philanthropies. This program provides training to small business owners and entrepreneurs to support them in growing their businesses’ revenues and number of employees.
Some of Baltimore’s largest economic engines are beginning to turn in the same direction. Early results show that this collective work is a catalyst to create new jobs and opportunities in Baltimore City. Through the commitments made under HopkinsLocal and BLocal, more jobs are being filled by local residents and small businesses are able to increase their revenues and create more jobs. The successes of these initiatives only scratch the surface. To support this work, HopkinsLocal and BLocal must continue to identify small businesses to meet their needs and encourage additional corporations and anchors to make similar commitments to local hiring and purchasing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kylie Patterson is the Director of Economic Inclusion at Johns Hopkins University. To learn more about Johns Hopkins commitment to local hiring and purchasing, visit www.hopkinslocal.jhu.edu/. To learn more about the BLocal initiative, the BLocal BUILD College or more about the partners, visit www.blocalbaltimore.org. To learn more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, visit www.10ksbapply.com/Baltimore.
This article is featured in the 2018 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunites Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.