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Damon Hughes at Up-To-Date Laundry’s new East Baltimore facility
Damon Hughes at Up-To-Date Laundry’s new East Baltimore facility
Damon Hughes, Manager of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion, Johns Hopkins University & Health System

Damon Hughes grew up in the Park Heights neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore. Now, as the manager for supplier diversity and inclusion within Johns Hopkins Medicine, he is helping bring employment and opportunities to Park Heights and similar neighborhoods through HopkinsLocal and the related BLocal initiative.

"We exceeded our expectations so much in the first year that we used that year as a new baseline, and now we have increased the goal for years two and three."

HopkinsLocal reflects an institutionwide commitment to use Johns Hopkins’ economic power to spur development and bring jobs to neighborhoods throughout Baltimore. “It is a program designed to leverage the buying power between the university and the hospitals to build locally, buy locally and hire locally,” says Hughes. “And the end game is creating jobs and opportunities.”

HopkinsLocal focuses on 15 targeted ZIP codes within Baltimore. “I grew up in the ‘one-five’ — 21215 — and went to high school there, at Northwestern High,” says Hughes, “and now that is one of the ZIP codes where I am working to build minority and women businesses and increase the number of local jobs. It feels good to reach back and help out a neighborhood I grew up in.” Working to advance the goals of HopkinsLocal, Hughes recently helped Up-To-Date Laundry, a local, womanowned business that washes linens and other supplies for The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, expand operations into East Baltimore. Up-To-Date Laundry’s new facility will create 40 to 100 new jobs in a neighborhood down the street from Bayview.

Hughes is also partnering with national companies to spur development. Recently, Johns Hopkins successfully encouraged Office Depot to commit up to $100,000 a year for the next three years to support local initiatives. As part of that effort, Office Depot will be using a local Baltimore, minorityowned business, RGH Enterprises Inc., to supply recycled printer cartridges to Johns Hopkins.

During its first year of operation, HopkinsLocal was so successful that it was able to more than double its local spending goal from $6 million to $15 million.

“We exceeded our expectations so much in the first year that we used that year as a new baseline, and now we have increased the goal for years two and three.” Hughes’ aim is to continue to surpass the program’s targets. A former small business owner of an IT company himself, Hughes used to sit on the board of the Md. Washington Minority Companies Association, and he understands the challenges faced by local businesses. “By being on the board, it gave me perspective on some of the hurdles that local, women- and minorityowned businesses had, not just in starting their business, but in building capacity, maintaining demand, accessing capital and expanding operations,” he says. Tasked with leveraging Johns Hopkins’ buying power for the good of local communities, Hughes is now working to overcome the obstacles that small businesses face, he says. “I feel like I can be a voice and an advocate for local, women and minority businesses looking to enhance their communities and create jobs.”

 

Supporting Suppliers and Creating Community Jobs

 

Email: dhughe32@jhmi.edu

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