Sourcing relief locally: a city-wide coordination across businesses
Here in Baltimore, many of our local makers and manufacturers are finding themselves at a crossroads: wanting to help fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to stay afloat at the same time. Not only is the economic slowdown hitting manufacturers, but it is also removing one of the main drivers of Baltimore’s economy. At Baltimore Development Corporation’s Made In Baltimore Program (MIB), we worked quickly to pivot alongside the small businesses we work with, realizing there was an opportunity here to help connect the dots between opportunities for PPE manufacturers and additional resources and funding options as we fight against COVID-19.
MIB has focused on a number of initiatives in response to the local needs we identified. We first reached out to our members and neighbors to create a Home Sewing Network, which would serve as a way for people to pick up materials to make masks at home to be distributed to health care systems. Our second effort involved coordinating with the Baltimore Development Corporation to match funds and create grants for businesses engaged in PPE manufacturing. Lastly, MIB recognized a chance to use our print and media assets to launch a digital campaign that would showcase the important work Baltimore’s businesses are engaging in surrounding COVID-19, documenting and promoting their work.
When we first started these initiatives, we weren’t sure what form they would take on, but we’ve been thrilled with how quickly and fluidly these efforts have grown across the city. For instance, over 140 applicants are now a part of the Home Sewing Network, and $50k is available in grants for our manufacturers. This work would not be possible without the incredible infrastructure of businesses and organizations across Baltimore that are now banding together in response to the pandemic. We’ve seen seemingly disparate small businesses team up overnight to create items that are in short supply, and we’re excited to serve as a part of this growing ecosystem.