Strategic Initiatives

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Leveraging Baltimore’s Existing Assets Through Innovation

IW’s Strategic Initiatives’ goal is to take a macro look at opportunities in Baltimore to aggregate our efforts in supporting Baltimore’s disinvested neighborhoods and entrepreneurs. Through our existing Strategic Initiatives, we have focused on particular economic sectors where Baltimore has unique assets that could help increase economic activity, create new livable wage jobs, and generate new social enterprises led by people of color.

Nature’s Colors Initiative

In March of 2020, Innovation Works received a grant to utilize and expand upon the research efforts of the Baltimore Natural Dye Initiative. IW’s goal was to maximize the natural dye industry resources in Baltimore with a focus on economic development and job creation in economically distressed communities. After assembling an advisory group to help tackle these new objectives, the group began researching and strategizing what this market could look like in order to guide the future of the project.

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Makers Unite! PPE Initiative

Initially launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Manufacturing Strategic Initiative supported local makers in Baltimore to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early days of the pandemic. Since then, thanks to our partnership with CareFirst, we have turned the original crisis response into The Link, a more future-focused manufacturing effort that increases the purchasing of products manufactured in Baltimore across a variety of industries. This will ultimately build a bridge between local manufacturers—specifically manufacturers of color—and prospective vendors.

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Urban Wood Initiative

Also in March 2020, Innovation Works received a grant from the Transparent Fish Fund to utilize and expand upon the recent research efforts of the US Forest Service and local urban wood industry leaders who identified Baltimore as a unique resource center for the reclaimed urban wood market. IW’s Urban Wood Strategic Initiative uses Baltimore’s indigenous asset of urban wood to develop local value chains with the intention of establishing Baltimore as the national market leader. By applying IW’s model to the development of the urban wood markets, social enterprises in the industry will be deeply rooted in Baltimore’s niche market with competitive advantages, therefore creating sustainable businesses and furthering IW’s mission to reduce the racial wealth divide in Baltimore’s economically distressed neighborhoods.

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