May 15, 2019

BLocal initiative touts 1,700 hires, $97M in local spending at 3-year deadline

A group of 28 local companies, including Johns Hopkins and T. Rowe Price, say they have hired more than 1,700 Baltimoreans as part of an effort to increase economic inclusion in the city.

BLocal launched three years ago as an effort by major employers to pump millions into Baltimore's neglected communities through local hiring, building and buying. The initiative was announced nearly a year after the unrest that shook the city following the death of Freddie Gray. Companies involved in the effort stated an original goal of directing a minimum of $69 million over three years to local and minority vendors and construction firms.

The coalition surpassed that in year one, and continued to boost spending the two following years. In 2018 alone, the BLocal partners spent or committed $97 million for purchasing or construction with local and minority vendors, according to a released Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University.

BLocal started with 25 companies and three additional businesses have since come onboard.

Participating companies included small and large firms in banking, construction, real estate, professional services and more. Some of the key players include Hopkins, T. Rowe, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Brown Advisory, Under Armour, The Cordish Companies, Legg Mason Inc., DLA Piper and M&T Bank.

As the program hit its three-year deadline, participants reported they’re buying $50 million more from local and minority service providers than they had been before the launch of BLocal. Overall, the firms have spent about $75 million with local and/or minority and women-owned construction firms, and increased their spending on goods and services from local and/or minority and women-owned businesses by about $22 million.

The BLocal partners have also collectively hired 1,729 Baltimore residents over the three years, and offered paid internships to 1,576 youth.

“We are thrilled to have surpassed BLocal’s initial goals, but the real success story is in the thousands of lives impacted by these investments," Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said in a statement.

BLocal followed on HopkinsLocal, a similar hiring and spending effort launched by Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System in 2015. That program led to the hiring of more than 1,000 local workers and $220 million in local spending across three years by the Hopkins institutions.

Other workforce initiatives have been launched by BLocal participants since 2016, including BUILD College, a 13-week education program aimed at helping local, women- and minority-owned construction companies grow their businesses. BUILD College graduated 74 people so far. BLocal companies also supported outreach to, and recruitment of, city entrepreneurs for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which offers business education, support services and access to capital.

Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE and co-chair of BLocal, said he encourages the BLocal partners and other institutions in Baltimore to continue investing even more in local workers and businesses.

“When we look at what we buy, we are not focused on the total spend, which is large, but we are asking ourselves how has our spend grown from last year and the year before,” Butler said in a statement. “Last year the partners spent more than $22 million more with local and minority businesses than was spent in 2017. I continue to be excited about this initiative and the impact it is having every day in Baltimore.”

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