Mayor Schmoke's unexpected proposal for the business community to follow the city's lead and earmark 23 percent of its contracting, purchasing and professional services business to firms owned by women and minorities is a challenge the Greater Baltimore Committee and its members cannot afford to ignore.
Schmoke's vision of an "inclusive" future in which minorities and women participate fully in Baltimore's development is an economic necessity as well as a moral imperative. As the mayor told business leaders at the GBC's annual dinner last week: "Our city cannot be the economic success story all of us want if the majority of our people are left behind."
Schmoke's comments, interestingly, came as the GBC was unveiling its own vision of Baltimore as an international center for research and development in the life sciences. The GBC sees life sciences as a focal point around which new, spin-off businesses can be organized. The challenge, which Schmoke has now made explicit, will be ensuring that the opportunities created will be available to all city residents.