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BLocal Businesses Invest Millions in Unprecedented Build, Hire, Buy, Effort

First-Year Progress Report Shows Companies Helping to Strengthen Baltimore

Dec. 11, 2017
CONTACT: Tracey Reeves
Office: 443-997-9903
Cell: 443-986-4053

Twenty-five Baltimore-area companies that came together to help increase economic opportunities for local businesses and residents today announced that they not only met the goal they set for the three-year program, they surpassed it – in just the first year.

In April 2016, the companies, known as BLocal, announced their intention to collectively spend more on design and construction contracts with local and or minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses and vendors. Some of the companies also pledged to hire more city residents, particularly those from communities struggling with high unemployment.

In a review of progress from the first year, several BLocal partners reported that their businesses committed a combined $73.8 million to contracts with local and/or minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses and vendors on construction projects. Several partners also reported that together they increased non-construction-related purchasing with minority- and women-owned or local businesses by $12.3 million for a total contribution of $86.1 million in the build and buy areas. Additionally, several companies together hired 470 Baltimoreans for specific positions, 308 more than they pledged to employ over three years, and some BLocal partners expanded their intern and mentoring programs.

“BLocal started with broad commitments from a diverse group of Baltimore-area businesses that believe in this city,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, and one of three co-chairs of the effort. “This report quantifies our efforts on those commitments and holds us accountable to our collective aims. We are emboldened with the progress in the first year and are determined to redouble our efforts going forward.”

BLocal, which includes the commitments of HopkinsLocal, the broad economic inclusion plan launched in 2015 by Johns Hopkins University and Health System, is made up of both large and small companies ranging from banking and construction to real estate and professional services. The collective committed to spending at least $69 million with local and minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses over three years.

The progress made in the first year was driven in part by several significant construction projects and increases in overall spending.

“Every person and each company that has a stake in Baltimore must come together so that we can expand opportunities throughout the city,” said Calvin G. Butler Jr., chief executive officer of BGE and a co-chair of BLocal. “It is inspiring to see the companies of BLocal stepping up to the plate and being purposeful in their efforts to invest in the community.”

In addition to the millions the partners put towards construction and procurement, they also contributed $12.2 million by investing directly in programs and organizations that serve the Baltimore community as well as made significant donations of in-kind services.

“This has been a group effort all along,” said Ronald R. Peterson, president of Johns Hopkins Health System, executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine and a co-chair of BLocal. “What we’ve seen this first year is that the goal we set for BLocal was ambitious but not as ambitious as the desire these companies have to help this city and its people.”

While the partner companies reported substantial progress in the first year of the BLocal effort, they acknowledge that the process of coalescing around a shared goal of supporting the city’s businesses and people was not without its challenges. For instance, participating companies used a variety of approaches to set and reach goals based on the strengths of their businesses. As a result, year one produced different measures of success for each of the companies with some setting baseline goals for the first time. In the future, going forward, the BLocal partners will work to establish baseline data so that incremental impact can be more clearly measured year-to-year.

The BLocal partners, which now number 27, remains open to other Baltimore-area businesses interested in participating in the local build, hire, buy effort.

To read the BLocal one-year progress report, visit blocalbaltimore.org.


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