BLocal Initiative

Back Row: Joe Sullivan (CEO Legg Mason), Bishop Miles (Zion Baptist Church), Michael Cryor (CEO OneBaltimore), Calvin Butler (CEO BGE), Neil Jurgens (VP Global Corporate Real Estate & Campus Under Armour) and Ron Peterson (Johns Hopkins Hospital & Health System President)  Front Row: Ron Daniels (JHU President), Elijah Cummings, Diane Bell-McKoy (ABC President), Pastor Prentice, Jody L. Clark (COO Beatty Development Group)

On April 4, 25 businesses in the Baltimore metropolitan area came together at the Zion Baptist Church in Baltimore to announce the launch of the new BLocal initiative with the goal of investing millions into the city’s most underserved neighborhoods through local and minority hiring, buying and building.

BLocal, which includes HopkinsLocal, the extensive economic inclusion plan launched in 2015 by Johns Hopkins University, will inject an estimated $69 million into targeted areas over the next three years. This initial investment is intended to support the purchase of goods and services from area vendors and the construction and renovation of new projects.

“HopkinsLocal is our comprehensive approach to leverage Johns Hopkins’ economic power to do more to build, buy, and hire locally,” JHU President Ronald J. Daniels said in a statement. “Building on that promise, BLocal aims to help bolster a local economy, not on a project-by-project basis, but through a collective, deep-seated change approach.”

Daniels is the co-chair of the BLocal initiative along with Ronald R. Peterson, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, and Calvin G. Butler Jr., chief executive officer of BGE.

“BGE’s roots in Baltimore go back 200 years and we are committed to the city’s stability, economic vitality and community spirit,” said Butler. “Our commitment is made stronger by joining with others who care deeply for Baltimore to share knowledge and help direct resources where they make the biggest difference. BLocal gives us a platform to make important and meaningful connections.”

the BLocal companies are projecting an opening investment of $53 million in renovation and construction projects, and another $16 million in goods and services purchased from businesses headed by local and MWBEs (Minority and Women Business Enterprises) through 2019. Once more of the BLocal collaborators ascertain how much they will invest in the initiative and in what specific areas, that preliminary investment is expected to increase.

Along with the university and Hopkins’ medical institutions, some of the participating businesses include 1st Mariner Bank, BGE, Brown Advisory, The Cordish Companies, DLA Piper, KPMG, Legg Mason, M&T Bank, OneBaltimore, T. Rowe Price, Under Armour and Whiting-Turner. All the partners are pledging to expand their investment in Baltimore by spending more on design and construction contracts with local, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, hiring from distressed communities and spending more purchasing dollars with the same kinds of businesses.

“I applaud the leadership of Johns Hopkins and the companies who have committed to the BLocal initiative,” Congressman Elijah E. Cummings said. “This innovative partnership will help rebuild Baltimore by providing real economic opportunity to our residents.”

Congressman Cummings was on hand for the announcement as many of the targeted areas fail within his 7TH congressional district.

One growth and development opportunity for Baltimore residents and businesses has already come from this initiative. A number of the 25 companies have come together to offer a Contractor’s College that will provide construction and business training for small, local – minority owned, women owned and disadvantaged – Baltimore based businesses.  This program is intended to help these firms grow the key competencies and relationships necessary to drive future growth in Baltimore City.