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Credit: BLocal BUILD College


BLocal BUILD College celebrates eighth design and construction cohort

The BLocal BUILD College program helps local businesses grow through education and networking

Johns Hopkins Media Relations
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The BLocal BUILD College program celebrated its eighth cohort on July 26, graduating 10 design and construction-related companies. With more than 100 firms participating to date, the BUILD College initiative offers tools, networking opportunities, and access to industry experts to assist small, minority, and women-owned businesses in the design and construction industry.

Launched in 2016, BLocal is a commitment by local businesses and anchor institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System, to leverage their collective influence to strengthen the city by creating economic opportunities for Baltimore. The BUILD College is part of this initiative.

"BUILD College was a great experience that helped jump-start my business," said Cheo Hurley, CEO of THG Companies, a Baltimore-based general contracting and construction company, and past graduate of the program. "The ability to learn and get advice from local construction practitioners allowed me to put the knowledge from class to use quickly and has opened doors to new opportunities."

"BUILD College was a great experience that helped jump-start my business. ... [It] has opened doors to new opportunities."
Cheo Hurley
BUILD College alum

This year's class included companies in the construction management, general contractor services, janitorial services/construction cleanup, architectural, mechanical engineering commissioning, and electrical contracting industries. The graduation ceremony, which was held in-person for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, featured a panel of BUILD College alumni who shared their experiences in the program and the lessons they've learned—and are still learning—as local, minority, and women-owned businesses in the design and construction industry.

During the 11-week BUILD College program, businesses attend classes that focus on strategic planning, human resources, surety/bonding, business development, bidding, project management, safety, and contract considerations. Those who go through the program graduate with core business competencies for their company's back-office operations and business development.

After graduation, businesses become a part of the BUILD College alumni network. They have opportunities to participate in BUILD College alumni sessions, networking events, and other initiatives and programming offered by the BLocal BUILD College partners.

"BUILD College proved to be a great refresher course for things to which I had already been exposed, as well as an introduction to various intricacies of running a small business that I hadn't yet considered," said alum Christina Long, founder of Vertical Architecture. "I am now part of the BUILD network of small local businesses 'BUILD'-ing a stronger Baltimore."

The ninth cohort of the BLocal BUILD College will commence in February 2024. If you are interested in learning more or know of any design and construction business candidates, email MWLBEparticipation@jhmi.edu for information on the application process and program details.