April 6, 2017

Baltimore’s new mayor says this is one of the city’s most valuable untapped resources

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh wants to create opportunities for those who are regularly overlooked

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, left, and The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein for a discussion on leadership and action at the local level, at the Renewal Summit in Washington, D.C., March 30. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar

According to the Baltimore mayor’s office, there are 10,000 “returning citizens” who come to the city every year after having been incarcerated. They are returning to their homes to get on with their lives, which includes looking for a job.

But in a city grappling with high unemployment and a dearth of resources, many men and women returning to civilian life struggle to find a job.

In her first State of the City address in March, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh committed to reaching the city’s most vulnerable residents, including “returning citizen,” who have been recently incarcerated and are now free. Pugh, who took office in December, singled out corporate leaders and asked that they give this community a chance by offering opportunities to train and work with companies. “Our returning citizens can become your best employees,” she said.

In a recent interview with The Renewal Project in Washington, D.C., Pugh mentioned another avenue for returning citizens to contribute to their economic well being: entrepreneurialism.

“I want to create more funding opportunities for returning citizens to start their own businesses,” Pugh said. “That’s something I’m really big on. Because I’ve said to returning citizens as a former graduation speaker for a graduating class. … I said if anybody in here has the capacity to start a business, to do so, because nobody asks you about your background. They care about the quality of your service.”

Mayor Pugh is a small business owner herself. She is the co-owner of 2 Chic Boutique, a designer consignment shop in the historic Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore, and she is the owner of her own PR firm, CE Pugh & Company.

Pugh was in D.C. on March 30 to join Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for a discussion on leadership and politics at the local level, part of The Renewal Summit, an event presented by The Atlantic and underwritten by Allstate. (The Renewal Project is brought to you by Allstate.) Featured speakers also included federal lawmakers, business leaders, and nonprofit leaders. The mayors’ discussion was led by The Atlantic‘s Ron Brownstein. Watch a video of that conversation above.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.