Ray Lewis launches Bal­ti­more jobs ini­tia­tive

Pro­gram to kick off with job fair to­day at Mor­gan State; over 50 em­ploy­ers to at­tend

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Sarah Gantz sarah.gantz@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/sarah­gantz

For­mer Ravens line­backer Ray Lewis launched Bal­ti­more 1000, a jobs and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment among small and mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses, on Fri­day.

Lewis and co-founder Lance McCarthy kicked off the ini­tia­tive with a round­table dis­cus­sion with en­trepreneurs and small­busi­ness own­ers. To­day, Bal­ti­more 1000 will host a hir­ing event at Mor­gan State Uni­ver­sity with more than 50 em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing Un­der Ar­mour, Com­cast, Horse­shoe Casino Bal­ti­more and Lyft.

The ini­tia­tive, which aims to find jobs for 1,000 peo­ple, is an ex­ten­sion of Fer­gu­son 1000, started by McCarthy in re­sponse to the un­rest in Fer­gu­son, Mo.

Lewis said he worked with McCarthy to bring the ini­tia­tive to Bal­ti­more be­cause he thinks eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is a key to help­ing Bal­ti­more re­cover from its own un­rest.

“We need to go back into these neigh­bor­hoods, put both our feet down and stand for some­thing,” Lewis said.

The hir­ing event takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to­day at Mor­gan State’s School of Busi­ness, 4100 Hillen Road.

Bal­ti­more 1000 is in­tended to do more than help city res­i­dents find jobs, Lewis said. He wants the ini­tia­tive to be a call to ac­tion for lo­cal busi­nesses that can play a role in strength­en­ing the city by hir­ing lo­cally and pro­vid­ing train­ing and men­tor­ship for those who are not yet ready to en­ter the work­force.

“I want our city to be all God meant it to be, but we can­not get there — we can­not get there — with­out jobs,” said Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings, who at­tended the round­table.

Through Bal­ti­more 1000, Lewis and McCarthy also want to bol­ster small and mi­nor­ity busi­nesses by cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity that en­trepreneurs can turn to for con­nec­tions, sup­port and ad­vice needed to grow their com­pa­nies.

“We have a tremen­dous col­lec­tion of as­sets. We don’t have an ecosys­tem,” said Michael Cryor, chair of OneBal­ti­more, the pub­lic-pri­vate ini­tia­tive Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake launched af­ter the city’s un­rest.

At the busi­ness round­table, held Fri­day at the of­fice of OneBal­ti­more, small-busi­ness own­ers talked about the chal­lenges they face in rais­ing money, scal­ing pro­duc­tion and mak­ing con­nec­tions with key con­tacts.

Rod­ney Dot­son, a Bal­ti­more real es­tate agent who is in the process of es­tab­lish­ing a whiskey dis­tillery, said the round­table in­tro­duced him to oth­ers in the busi­ness com­mu­nity he thinks can help him and his busi­ness part­ners grow their com­pany, JCT Dis­tillery. He looks for­ward to the net­work he will be able to ac­cess through Bal­ti­more 1000, Dot­son said.

The event also at­tracted es­tab­lished busi­nesses that want to grow.

Bruce Tyler, CEO of At­ti­vaSoft, said he plans to par­tic­i­pate in the job fair to­day. Founded in 1998, At­ti­vaSoft is an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany that pri­mar­ily does con­tract work for fed­eral agen­cies. The firm has 22 em­ploy­ees, and Tyler said he has a few open­ings, pri­mar­ily in spe­cial­ized IT work.

But be­yond fill­ing a few job open­ings, Tyler thinks his com­pany can teach IT skills to Bal­ti­more res­i­dents, to pre­pare them for en­try-level jobs.

“I came be­cause I want to know: What can I do?” Tyler said.

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