BLocal can 'shift the foundation of our local economic landscape,' initiative's leaders say

The three co-chairs of the recently unveiled BLocal initiative, a pledge by 25 local business designed to create economic opportunities in Baltimore, authored an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun today in which they write that BLocal "has the potential to shift the foundation of our local economic landscape" and to "tie our community together in new ways."

In the op-ed, the authors—Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels; Calvin G. Butler Jr., chief executive officer of BGE; and Ronald R. Peterson, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine—gave an overview of the initiative, which was announced Monday. They also noted that BLocal "stands as the commitment of 25 local organizations to this city and its future."

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Over the next three years alone, BLocal affiliates, large and small, representing a host of sectors, have pledged to invest at least an additional $69 million in our city. We will increase design and construction contracts with local, minority-owned and women-owned companies, expand our hires from distressed neighborhoods, purchase more from Baltimore-based vendors and generate direct investments in our community.

None of the BLocal companies is new to local investment or community support in Baltimore. We participate in summer jobs programs for youth. We adhere to goals for economic inclusion on our work sites. We offer employees incentives to live locally. We support the nonprofits and community-based organizations that undertake vital human services efforts across our city. But the frustration and anger unleashed after the tragic death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore nearly one year ago testifies to the fact that we—collectively and urgently—have more to do.

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