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Kylie Patterson Leads HopkinsLocal and BLocal, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programs
Johns Hopkins University
Kylie Patterson, Sr. Advisor for Local Economic Inclusion at Johns Hopkins

"Johns Hopkins University is perhaps the most inclusive, thought provocating career enhancing, economic engineer Greater Baltimore has ever seen and may ever see," said Wayne R. Frazier, Sr. President of Md. Washington Minority Companies Association (MWMCA). Recently the University completed a nationwide search for a professional to lead their empowering and enabling HopkinsLocal and BLocal, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business programs and they found Kylie Patterson. Kylie comes to Baltimore with national experience and MWMCA welcomes her.


Welcome to Baltimore and your work in economic equity and elimination of poverty has taken you across America, so how did you find your path to Baltimore and why here?

My path to Baltimore has been full of twists and turns. From the naval base in San Diego, to the reservations in Sells, Arizona to my time in New Orleans and Minneapolis, each experience has informed my understanding of what it takes to build an inclusive economy and the need for intentional, accountable and consistent investments. In the case of Baltimore, my move was a natural one as Baltimore was one of my assigned cities in my previous role as the Sr. Program Manager for the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now. Baltimore has amazing assets and resources, it is a city that can realize a true inclusive economy – one in which long-time residents can benefit from investment without being displaced. Given Baltimore’s positioning, I am excited about my role as Sr. Advisor for Local Economic Inclusion at Johns Hopkins and helping to guide the university and health system in focusing their investment locally in Baltimore.


How is Baltimore similar and different from other cities that you have worked in?

Baltimore is similar to many cities I have worked in. Perhaps the city I find the most commonality with is Newark, New Jersey. Newark is similar to Baltimore in that it is a major transportation hub, majority African American, and once was home to significant manufacturing. Similar to Baltimore it too experienced the economic impact of a declining manufacturing sector paired by white flight following the riots of the late 60’s. The two cities face issues of long term disinvestments in key infrastructures that make it hard to attract and keep local talent and support small businesses. Yet, Baltimore is different in its leadership and business climate.  Baltimore has major institutions such as Johns Hopkins and businesses such as BGE committed to local hiring, buying and construction projects. In no other city have I seen this level of investment and coordination among different sectors all with a shared vision – a strong Baltimore economy for the people of Baltimore.


Who has been the greatest influence in your professional career and why?

It is hard to name just one influence, as various managers and mentors have invested in my growth and development. Given the focus of my position, my greatest influencer is Dr. Randal Pinkett. Dr. Pinkett is the Co-Founder and CEO of BCT Partners a national minority-owned and operated consultancy. BCT Partners equipped me to lead major projects with various stakeholders, introduced me to the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses of color and the importance of representation and collaboration when developing strategies that disrupt the status quo.


Understanding the origin and mission of HopkinsLocal and BLocal, can it be improved? If so, how?

My first day at Hopkins was August 14th and as such I am still growing in my understanding of both the origin and mission of HopkinsLocal and BLocal. With that appreciation, I can report that HopkinsLocal and BLocal have achieved some of their key goals, yet there is always room for improvement. For HopkinsLocal, we have the opportunity to reach more ambitious goals and think outside the box to engage small and medium sized businesses and employ more Baltimoreans. Today, twenty-seven Baltimore area businesses are engaged in BLocal, these businesses can increase the depth of their investments, and many of them have set goals to do just that.


What are the best practices of Hopkins Local and BLocal?

I still have much to learn about the practices utilized across our HopkinsLocal and BLocal initiatives. From my initial review, the most productive practices include setting goals, assigning responsibility at various levels of leadership and constantly evaluating to course correct. Another key to our success is developing relationships and synergies within and outside of the enterprise.


As you have travel around inner Baltimore City, you may have noticed vast impoverishment and blocks of vacant houses, what steps can our great corporate community citizens take to assist in the turn about?

Baltimore’s vacancies are emblematic of a city that once had nearly one million residents, but now has just over 600,000 residents. When the city had more population it also had more jobs. More jobs are the answer to the vacancy problem. Therefore, the top three approaches I would suggest would be: 1. Hiring Baltimore residents; 2. Investing in small local businesses and 3. Providing or identifying partners that provide routes to homeownership. At Hopkins, as well as at over 100 employers in Baltimore, they offer the Live Near Your Work Program which supports employees through the provision of grants to help defray the cost of purchasing a home. There are various first time homebuyer programs provided across the city and housing developers that employers can also refer their staff. With more employment and better employment options, more people will be lifted out of poverty and be positioned to become homeowners.


Are there any suggestions that can be offered to inspire and motivate Baltimore’s struggling and at times low achieving young adults to improve their ability to gain employment?

There are multiple initiatives led by community based organizations as well as by Hopkins, such as our work with PTech where we help to prepare high school students for jobs or college. The ability to gain employment is as much a function of supply and demand as it is of networks. To young adults, I would stress the importance of volunteering, after-school work and summer employment/internships. In today’s economy, it is essential to have both experience and networks to locate employment. I would also encourage young adults to take time and dream about the futures they have for themselves. Would they like to be homeowners? Would they like to be able to pay for their future children to attend college? Once they have identified those answers, the next step is to assign a number to them. What would it take to retire at 65?  Following the identification of that number, they then have to find the type of job that will give them the lifestyle they desire.


By now, you may have seen or heard of HBO’s critically acclaimed  series “The Wire”, which dramatizes the illegal drug culture and industry in Baltimore. From what you have experienced so far, what’s your take?

Illicit drug use and the addiction associated with it has decimated families of all hues and complexions. My experience so far is that Baltimore, like many urban cities, must divert resources and invest in public health and mental health in the hardest hit communities. While working in Minnesota, I had the opportunity to work with gang- and clique-affiliated youth. We found in our work that the promise of $12.00/hr was enough to entice them off the streets. I think the same logic and strategy could be applied here in Baltimore.


Why is it important for Hopkins to be involved with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business?

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program is one of the legs on a stool for a more inclusive economy in Baltimore. For Hopkins in particular, the 10,000 Small Businesses program provides us an opportunity to continue to grow our supplier and vendor lists and recruit additional businesses to join our BLocal work. For HopkinsLocal to be successful, Baltimore needs a vibrant and robust small business sector and the 10,000 Small Businesses program provides a vehicle for small businesses to ramp-up and grow their revenues and number of employees.


Why should more local corporations get involved with HopkinsLocal and BLocal?

Improving the economy of Baltimore cannot rest at the feet of one corporation or anchor institution. Yet, having multiple partners act without cooperation is also a poor use of time and energy. BLocal has provided a platform for businesses to better coordinate their investments. For Baltimore’s local corporations, participating in BLocal may not be in the cards. Therefore, whether they choose to participate in BLocal or not,  I would challenge our corporations to consider ways to support Baltimore businesses and Baltimoreans in  every management and financial decision. For instance, find a local minority owned small business to cater your next staff luncheon,  act as a summer internship placement, make a commitment to interview at least one candidate from Baltimore for all of your vacancies or look to partner with another Baltimore business in your next project.



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