By J. K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

The Mayor’s Office announced a partnership with two Baltimore universities Dec. 14.

Morgan State University and University of Baltimore (UBalt) will be partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Recovery to ensure the impactful, equitable and effective distribution of $641 million the city received in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds for pandemic recovery.

Applicants could include but would not be limited business owners, hoteliers, restaurateurs,

retailers, and the like, as well as contractors building civil infrastructure, like high-speed internet.

UBalt will be focusing on infrastructure, broadband specifically. Morgan will be focusing on small business development.

“We’ve been tracking neighborhood data for 20 years,” Professor Seema Iyer, associate director of the Jacob France Institute and research associate professor (UBalt) told the AFRO. “If a project wants to increase digital access in a particular neighborhood, we know a lot about that neighborhood already.I think that’s one of the benefits of choosing us,” Professor Iyer said. “We are really truly a partner in this because we’ve been tracking these things already. We’re not starting from scratch.”

“Our professors, whether they be on the entrepreneurship side, the finance side, the hospitality side, they are going to be getting access to data and research that not only will enrich and help educate the city, but it will give our faculty a lot more data and information to use for publishing,” Nicholas Fletcher, assistant director, Masters Programs, Morgan State University, said. 

Dr. David Wilson, president of Morgan State University, has made it Morgan’s mission to achieve R1 research status, an educational benchmark that attracts and retains top-tier faculty and funding for research.

“This is a win-win,” Mr. Fletcher said. “We’re able to help the city, and as a university, also able to draw on an even stronger platform, gaining access to data and doing even more extensive research.”

The AFRO will continue to monitor this story as it develops in the coming months.

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