‘Celebrating the Sweetness of Baltimore’ highlights the economic development that John Hopkins has done over the years. (Photo by Johns Hopkins University)

By Nicole D. Batey,
Special to the AFRO

Local entrepreneurs, community and non-profit leaders recently joined Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) Office of Economic Development to celebrate the release of its first impact report.

Held in the Garage at R. House on June 15, ‘Celebrating the Sweetness of Baltimore’, highlighted strategic initiatives and partnerships with Johns Hopkins over the past three years. These initiatives have made a positive difference through economic impact and community investments in Baltimore neighborhoods and local minority-owned businesses.

Everything about the event was intentionally focused on the power of partnerships and included delightful samples from minority-owned businesses that included Deddle’s Mini Donuts, Capitol Kettle Corn, Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, and Berries by Quicha. 

Initiatives featured in the report include:

  • HopkinsLocal, which has led to the hiring of more than 2,400 Baltimore residents from targeted neighborhoods and more than 900 returning citizens since 2016, as well as contracts totaling more than $270 million with minority-owned, women-owned, or disadvantaged business enterprise contractors.

“Today’s proceedings are a true testament to the power of our partnerships in this city and a moving reminder of the simple truth that Hopkins and Baltimore flourish together,” said JHU President Ronald Daniels. “Johns Hopkins is so proud to call this city home. And over the last decade, we have doubled and redoubled our commitment to deepening and forging meaningful and lasting partnerships—like the ones we have seen today—with neighbors and community organizations to determine how best to utilize our resources and expertise and energy to meet the needs of this city and the hopes of its citizens.”

Vice President of Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) Office of Economic Development (OED), Alicia Wilson joined John Hopkins on July 29 (Photo Courtesy)

The celebration also included a panel discussion, moderated by Alicia Wilson, vice president of JHU’s Office of Economic Development, who is committed to connecting local brilliance with opportunity and exposure. Guest panelists were:

  • Angus Derbyshire, assistant director for pro bono at Maryland Legal Aid, which has partnered with Johns Hopkins on four expungement clinics over the past two and a half years that have helped 423 individuals clear 1,354 charges from their records, saving them $17,760 in legal fees.
  • German Villatoro, president of Villatoro Construction Corporation, a minority-owned, Baltimore-based business that has worked with Johns Hopkins on multiple projects and was bolstered by the BLocal BUILD College program.
  • Cheryl Washington, president and CEO of East Baltimore Development, has partnered with Johns Hopkins on a 20-year, $1.8 billion revitalization of East Baltimore’s Eager Park neighborhood.
  • Kim Williams, co-founder of KJ Design & Mortar Styling interior design and one of the 92 entrepreneurs highlighted by the Entrepreneurship Matters digital conversation series launched by the Johns Hopkins Office of Economic Development in 2020.
  • Melvin Wilson, executive director of Turnaround Tuesday, works to prepare returning and unemployed citizens to rejoin the workforce.

“The biggest hallmark of our report is really about the power of partnership. As an institution, Hopkins can only do so much, but we can go through collaborative efforts with others,” said Wilson.

As the Vice President of Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) Office of Economic Development (OED), Alicia Wilson is on a mission to connect the brilliance of Baltimore with greater opportunities.

Wilson came to the office in 2019 and led a core team in driving JHU’s strategy and initiatives in the institution’s ongoing commitment to positively impact the economic and neighborhood development in and around Baltimore City.

“I have always believed that there’s so much brilliance in our community that doesn’t get talked about enough, that doesn’t get into prominent rooms, that doesn’t get brought to the table,” said Wilson. “I will always speak about the great brilliance from our community, and advocate for that and showcase it to people who need to be connected to it.”

To read the Office of Economic Development Impact Report, go to https://www.jhu.edu/oedcp.

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