Investing in Baltimore
IMAGE CREDIT: WILL KIRK / HOMEWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
by Katie Pearce
Bell-McKoy and other CEOs and leaders took part in a discussion titled “Investing in Baltimore” at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday evening. The event was presented by JHU’s 21st Century Cities Initiative.
Bell-McKoy and other participants seemed to agree that this approach—setting tangible benchmarks for progress on equity and inclusion—has come into heightened focus in Baltimore in the past few years. McKoy suggested that in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, the tone of the Baltimore’s conversations about wealth equity has changed.
Calvin Butler, CEO of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., said that although his firm has long engaged in community partnerships in Baltimore, “we weren’t intentional, and we weren’t communicating our intentionality to others.”
Now, Butler said, the utility firm can point to a host of programs and commitments that aim to help Baltimore residents directly, like spending 25 percent of its contracting money with businesses owned by minorities, women, and disabled vets.
JHU President Ronald J. Daniels—who hosted the event in his own backyard on the Homewood campus—said a consensus formed that “the single most important thing that Hopkins could do is contribute to jobs in this city.”
The university and health system pursued that goal in earnest with the 2015 launch of HopkinsLocal, an effort to boost local recruiting, investments, and partnerships.
A few months later, 24 other Baltimore-area businesses got on board for a broader collective effort, BLocal). The participating businesses–which include BGE and Under Armour—set a goal of infusing at least $60 million into local and minority-owned businesses over three years.
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