Johns Hopkins and its BLocal partners announced a renewed commitment to their ongoing, collective efforts to create economic opportunity in Baltimore and strengthen the city by building, hiring, investing, and buying locally.
Since the launch of BLocal in 2016, program partners—Johns Hopkins University and Medicine and 24 other Baltimore-area business and organizations—have spent more than $1.41 billion on goods and services from local and/or minority and women-owned businesses, hired more than 4,600 city residents, and committed nearly $890 million to local and/or minority and women-owned businesses for design and construction projects.
The next phase of BLocal, announced Wednesday evening during an event at Baltimore's Center Club, includes an expansion into six new areas:
- Food access
- Literacy education
- Career advancement
- Health care
- Creating a sustainable business ecosystem
"With this next iteration of BLocal, we are poised to broaden and maximize our collective impact far and wide across Baltimore," JHU President Ron Daniels said, "and to get ever more expansive in our thinking about how we can support this city and its people."
At least 15 partner organizations have recommitted to the program along with Johns Hopkins, including BGE, T. Rowe Price, Whiting-Turner, Towson University, and Mercy Health Services. Several potential new partners were represented at Wednesday's event, including Arctaris Impact Investors, the Baltimore Ravens, Bank of America, BWI Business Partnership, Capital Region Minority Supplier Development, First National Bank, Greater Washington Partnership, Green Street Impact Partners, JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank.
"We know we can increase positive impacts in Baltimore City by coming together and being intentional in how we work and collaborate," said Carim Khouzami, president and CEO of BGE. "I'm proud that BGE was one of the founding BLocal companies and am pleased that so many of our partners were able to use our best practices in supplier diversity to expand their own efforts. I look forward to the continued effort of finding more ways to support our customers and the community."
The event also included an announcement about the creation of the BLocal Procurement College, designed to provide training for local and/or minority and women-owned businesses to serve as vendors for large institutions.
"The next phase of BLocal will stretch us," said Audrey Johnson, director of economic innovation and strategy in Johns Hopkins' Office of Economic Development and Community Partnerships. "Solving the immense challenges will require us to approach this work in ways we have not done before. Our continued work together will fully depend on each of our organizations buying into the power we each hold and the power of this collective."
Johnson closed her remarks with a call to action for those in attendance: "Let's build grocery stores around the city and address the food deserts. Let's invest our resources to develop affordable housing options for families in target areas. Let's continue to invest in education and workforce programs to position city residents to thrive. Let's develop opportunities to improve access to health care for seniors. Together, let's invest in the city for a stronger Baltimore."