If you live in Baltimore or run a woman or minority-owned firm in Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins University and health system want you.
They have set new goals in hiring of residents who live in certain Baltimore neighborhoods and buying local goods and services from disadvantaged businesses in an effort to help reduce the city’s inequality, officials said Wednesday.
The effort is an extension of an effort dubbed HopkinsLocal and launched in 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody. Frustration among some about the lack of opportunities in some parts of the city boiled over in the wake of his death.
It’s also a response to historic mistrust of Hopkins, the city’s largest private employer, in some poor black communities that the institution has worked to reverse with a variety of measures that include hiring, community health services and infrastructure investments.
“We knew we had to be more strategic in harnessing our resources,” said Alicia Wilson, the university’s vice president for economic development and a Baltimore native. “We needed to do more to make the city all it can be. We’ve seen progress, and that’s good news, but we can do even more.”
Wilson spoke to a crowd of residents and business owners Thursday morning at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum ahead of a HopkinsLocal job fair. The program led to the hiring of 1,457 residents from 2016 through 2019 from Baltimore neighborhoods considered in need of opportunities and $113 million from city vendors, officials said.
The new hiring goals for 2020 through 2022 include:
- Increasing hiring from specific ZIP codes to 50% of select positions and offering career advancement opportunities, adding higher-paying jobs to the pool and increasing the number of job opportunities to people with criminal records.
- Increasing spending with Baltimore businesses by $25 million with an emphasis on minority and women-owned firms and committing 13% of construction spending to city businesses.
- Committing 20% of construction spending with minority and women-owned businesses (including contracts where there is more than one vendor available).
- Assigning at least $75 million of Johns Hopkins’ endowment to be managed by a minority-owned firm.
Business owners seemed especially eager Wednesday to tap into the well of contracts available from the institution.
Gina D. Negri, a nurse who founded a city-based health care staffing firm called Visiting Angels, said she could help Hopkins serve the very neighborhoods that they are seeking to aid because she already works in them.
“We go to the clients’ homes and make sure they have what they need to stay in their homes as they age,” she said. “Hopkins can provide the skilled health care and we can provide the other services. Hopkins has a license to do these things, too. But we don’t want to compete with them, we want to be synergistic.”
Other professionals say they are pleased that Hopkins is actively looking to local talent. The two principals behind P&E Engineers said they are from Baltimore and went to college here, and also want to boost the city’s prospects.
“We don’t see this from a lot of Baltimore-based institutions and businesses,” said Earl R. Smith III, the firm’s chief operating officer. “We’d like to see more.”