BUILD seeks ties between loans, social progress BALTIMORE CITY

April 07, 1993|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,Staff Writer

A church-based community group wants downtown businesses to provide more full-time jobs and to promote minorities to management positions as conditions for government development loans.

The targets of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) include downtown retailers in addition to hotels and the convention center, which were developed with federal money.

"Public subsidies must carry a public obligation," the Rev. Arnold Howard, co-chairman of BUILD, said yesterday at a news conference attended by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Mr. Howard said that the group was frustrated because soup kitchens it operates serve many struggling low-paid, part-time workers in service industries. As a result, BUILD wants downtown businesses seeking public development loans to enter into a legally binding "social contract" with the city to provide better jobs and to promote minorities.

But Mr. Schmoke refused to endorse the concept of a "social contract" until he talks to municipal lawyers.

"It's a legal question not a question of politics," he told the group.

The news conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Inner Harbor, which was built with a $10 million federal loan.

"Today, we stand within a quarter-mile radius of the largest subsidized area in the city," said Mr. Howard, referring to the downtown and Inner Harbor areas that were rebuilt with millions of dollars in city and federal loans. Many of the loans have not been repaid.

"We must hold corporate welfare recipients accountable," said the Rev. Douglas Miles, a BUILD member.

The group also wants the businesses to establish job training programs to help workers increase their skills and chances for advancement.

Mr. Schmoke promised to give the group a list of job positions, salaries and the race of workers at the Baltimore Convention Center and to review employment practices to see if more minorities should be promoted to higher positions. He also promised to increase the convention center's purchasing from minority-owned firms.

The mayor said the city and downtown businesses hope to establish job training programs with funds from the federal Job Training Partnership Act.

Plans to expand the convention center with $100 million in state and $50 million in city funds has angered BUILD, which said it objects to tax dollars supporting the hotel and convention trades without any seeming financial benefit to communities.

The Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee yesterday approved the convention center expansion bill. The measure passed the House of Delegates last week.

The group also said yesterday that City Council President Mary Pat Clarke has agreed to hold hearings on the convention center expansion.

For the last few months, BUILD has met with business leaders and hotel officials in an effort to obtain information on the number of minorities they employ and the wages and benefits they pay.

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