By Nicole Batey,
Special to the AFRO

Economic empowerment and employment opportunities in Baltimore City were the focus of the “Level Up with HopkinsLocal 3.0” event recently held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Level Up with HopkinsLocal is an initiative by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) that aims to help “job seekers, small businesses, and small businesses in design and construction to learn how to take their business or career to the next level with Johns Hopkins.”

Although JHU and JHHS already had a long standing relationship with the city and a commitment to economic inclusion, it was after the death of Freddie Gray and ensuing unrest that development plans for the program were accelerated. Stakeholders began to listen to feedback directly from internal and external communities.

“HopkinsLocal is our firm commitment to leveraging the economic power of JHU and [Johns Hopkins] Health System to expand the participation of local and minority-owned businesses and construction opportunities,” said Alexandria Mills, JHU’s director of economic inclusion and impact. 

Mills said the program aims to increase the “hiring of city residents, and enhance economic growth, employment, and investment in Baltimore” through JHU and JHHS’ purchasing activities. 

“Those are our build, hire, and buy pillars,” said Mills.“This career fair is ‘3.0’ because every three years, we launch a new phase of HopkinsLocal. We’re setting new goals to push ourselves further in commitment to our three pillars.”

Within the program’s “build” pillar, the goal is to increase partnerships with certified minority-owned and women-operated businesses over the next three years to the point where at least 20 percent of addressable spending is done with minority and women entrepreneurs. The program also seeks to use 20 percent of their addressable spend funds with Baltimore City businesses. For the “hire” pillar, HopkinsLocal plans to increase their local hiring to 52 percent. The “buy” pillar hopes to increase spending with local businesses by $25 million dollars, with an emphasis on women, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses by 2026.

“We have a dynamic team of recruiters to help us with our hiring initiatives. We are also focusing more on retention and using supportive programs with our local hires, increasing career advancement,” said Mills. “This initiative includes offering more salaried positions that range from $50,000 to $75,000 annually.” 

Mills said that the career fair included recruiters and hiring managers offering a wide range of job opportunities that included “plenty of targeted entry level positions.”

The event included workshops for development resources for small businesses and insight on how to do business with Hopkins.