Baltimore City's unemployment rate remains 50 percent higher than the national average. Associate for Strategic Initiatives Affan Sheikh, A&S '10, works to challenge Johns Hopkins—the city's largest employer—to work with more local and minority- and women-owned businesses when hiring for construction projects and purchasing supplies and equipment. This economic inclusion initiative, dubbed HopkinsLocal, launched in 2015 and in its first year, led to the hiring of 304 Baltimore residents, most from communities with high levels of unemployment. In 2016, 25 Baltimore businesses and nonprofits were inspired to bolster their own local spending through sister project BLocal. "As an employee for my alma mater leading HopkinsLocal and BLocal, I've been able to create tangible employment and contracting opportunities for local residents and businesses," Sheikh says. "Strengthening the critical relationship between Hopkins and Baltimore has been the most meaningful professional experience of my career."
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