Baltimore's Blue Chip-in program has created 200 jobs. A story in yesterday's Business & Finance section gave an incorrect number.
Businessmen in Baltimore are doing exactly what the Reagan administration hoped they would. They are picking up where the federal government left off.
In an attempt to restore some of the social programs eliminated by the administration's budget cuts, a group of Baltimore businessmen and the mayor's office have joined forces to encourage private financing for and participation in 42 city programs previously funded by the federal government.
Dubbed "Blue Chip-in," the project has as its immediate aim raising $500,000 for the first year for a series of programs that ultimately will create 1,200 jobs, which will be filled by former Comprehensive Employment and Training Act workers and other low-income, unemployed persons. When the plug was pulled on the CETA program this spring, 3,000 workers in Baltimore lost their jobs.
"This is the first time the business community has ever taken this kind of interest in projects of the city," said Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer. "This is a very big change. I think there's an entirely new, very fine aggressive attitude in the business community."
The idea for Blue Chip-in originated in February when the mayor and local business executives met "and discussed ways of balancing our problems with federal budget cuts with the needs of the community," said Steven Kaiser, a spokesman for the mayor's office.
A private, nonprofit foundation, the Baltimore City Foundation Inc., was set up to give businesses a tax write-off for their contributions. All the hiring will be done by the mayor's Office of Manpower Resources, which also will monitor each project and provide participating companies with quarterly reports.
A Blue Chip-in committee was established to raise the needed funds to run the projects. The committee is made up of top executives from C&P Telephone Co., United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., Monumental Corp., First National Bank and Manekin Corp. The group is chaired by Bernard Manekin, chairman of Manekin Corp., a real estate firm.
The committee came up with a portfolio of 19 large-scale projects and 23 smaller projects ranging from landscaping to meals for the elderly to football for youths in public-housing projects. Companies may sponsor a project or simply make a contribution. So far, four Baltimore-area firms have sponsored a project -- C&P, U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty, Monumental and BG&E.
C&P's project, a plan to restore the gardens at the Mt. Clare Mansion, already has begun.
BG&E has pledged $52,000 for a weatherization project for the city's needy families. The company will train 10 former CETA workers and also use city work crews to insulate attics, install storm windows and provide home energy audits free of charge to selected homes in the Baltimore area.