Mayor vows to help blacks get high-tech jobs

March 23, 2001|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

When Mayor Martin O'Malley is in cheerleader mode, he likes to praise the growth of Baltimore's technology industry, the so-called Digital Harbor that has been attracting Internet, software and computer companies.

But he is worried that the industry lacks the city's racial diversity.

"Some people think the Digital Harbor is not for them," O'Malley said during a visit to Morgan State University's school of engineering yesterday.

After meeting with Morgan State's top officials, O'Malley pledged to work more closely with the historically black Northeast Baltimore school to promote access to high-tech jobs for blacks.

Though the pledge was more symbolic than specific, O'Malley and Morgan's president, Earl S. Richardson, said they would work together to create an Urban Center for Developing Technologies at the school that could serve as a clearinghouse for employment opportunities for Morgan students.

Also yesterday, O'Malley vowed to support Morgan State's plans to buy part of the nearby Northwood Plaza shopping center for a hotel and conference center that would house the school's hospitality-management program.

O'Malley said he sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, asking him to include funding for the project in a supplemental budget this year.

O'Malley said he considers himself a "proud neighbor" of Morgan State. He lives nearby, and he represented the neighborhood when he was a city councilman. Two of his top deputies, David E. Scott and Jeanne D. Hitchcock, are Morgan State graduates.

Officials of the school - which has received significant private and corporate donations in recent years - are hoping their relationship with O'Malley will help as they try to expand their programs and borders.

Eugene M. DeLoatch, dean of the 17-year-old school of engineering, asked the mayor to begin using Morgan State as a "resource for the city." He said the city needs a more diversified work force and that Morgan State can provide local companies with well-trained interns and employees.

Penny Lewandowski, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, which has been working to lure technology companies to the city, said many of those companies are hungry for new talent.

Many Baltimore-area college graduates think they need to leave the area to find high-tech jobs. The council is working on a plan to recruit more students from colleges such as Morgan State.

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