Johns Hopkins: Program to boost local hiring, buying is paying off

Sean Smeeton had few expectations when he agreed to meet with Johns Hopkins representatives in August 2015. And he certainly didn’t anticipate that the encounter would land his Hampden-based ice cream company its biggest customer.

But Smeeton got lucky. The invitation extended to Taharka Bros. came as Baltimore’s 2015 riots moved leaders at the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System to launch a new local hiring and contracting program, aiming to give their economic might more of an impact in the city.

One year in, the institutions say they are matching or exceeding their goals.

Hopkins leaders said Thursday they steered more than $55 million in construction spending to disadvantaged or minority- or woman-owned firms, and made more than 300 hires from disadvantaged Baltimore neighborhoods for certain entry-level positions in the 2016 fiscal year.

The institutions have also increased spending with local suppliers, like Taharka, by about $4.9 million.

The “HopkinsLocal” program builds on smaller-scale efforts that were previously in place. Ronald J. Daniels, president of the university, said he is pleased with the progress.

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