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Participants in Port Covington Bootcamp gain skills and employment

Deborah Bailey | 3/3/2017, 6 a.m. | Updated on 3/2/2017, 2:24 p.m.
The bootcamp is one of several programs sponsored by the company and its partners created to ensure the success of ...
The bootcamp is one of several programs sponsored by the company and its partners created to ensure the success of the City’s Port Covington Project. Courtesy Photo

The Port Covington Manufacturing Bootcamp is the start of Sagamore Development’s promise to put “skin in the game” of workforce development. The bootcamp is one of several programs sponsored by the company and its partners created to ensure the success of the City’s Port Covington Project.

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine E. Pugh joined community and business leaders at an Open House recently to celebrate the bootcamp’s second class at the Foundry located in the repurposed

City Garage building.

Sixteen participants, including Lionel Hall from East Baltimore, are in the final weeks of an eight-week course in preparation for future employment in manufacturing. Bootcamp classes expose participants to woodworking, welding, textiles, 3-D printing, and CNC machinery (computer numerically controlled), and other manufacturing skills.

“I’ve always loved working with my hands but the main thing that motivated me to sign up for the bootcamp was that I would be changing Baltimore— making my city a better place,” said Hall,

when asked what motivated him to participate in the Bootcamp.

“I’m most interested in doing welding. We have great teachers. I’m learning a lot and it’s exciting,” said Dewayne Hopkins, a participant from the Reisterstown community. “I am trying to start

my own business, so the training in construction will help.”

Mayor Pugh said the bootcamp is designed to do more than create temporary opportunities.

“The pre-apprentice course is not just about preparing Baltimore workers for jobs; it’s about preparing them for careers,” said Pugh to the sixteen participants and a room full of bootcamp supporters. “It provides a strong complement to the workforce development programs available throughout Baltimore City.”

Bootcamp participants are selected by The Center for Urban Families, and after an orientation period, the participants attend classes four days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Staff at The Center for Urban Families personally recruit a participant pool and ensure there is a fit between the program and applicants.

“A huge part of what we do is barrier removal. We understand that people come from a set of experiences that sometimes preclude them from becoming connected to the labor force,” said

Joseph T. Jones, CEO of the Center for Urban Families.

“The Center for Urban Families is in my district and the work they are doing with this project and to support our city’s most vulnerable families is worthy of support,” said 7th District City Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III, who came to support the Manufacturing Bootcamp Open House.

Alicia Wilson, vice president of Community Affairs for Sagamore Development Corporation is the force behind the scenes coordinating the Bootcamp partners and managing the startup of a

broad portfolio of community focused programs to follow-through on the company’s $100 million commitment to the Baltimore community was signed last summer. The community commitment agreement between Sagamore Development and the City of Baltimore and community partners represents an unprecedented agreement brokered by community partners in exchange for support of a $660 million TIF for the Port Covington Project signed into law in 2016.

“This is a truly unique workforce development and career training program— and it’s already seen a tremendous success,” Wilson said.

The first eight graduates of the Manufacturing Bootcamp completed the program in January and all have obtained full-time employment, according to Wilson.

Male and female Baltimore residents 18 and older are eligible to participate in the Manufacturing Bootcamp. Anyone interested may contact Urban Families at 410-367-5691