The catastrophic collapse of the 47-year-old Francis Scott Key Bridge, an iconic landmark for generations of Baltimoreans, has dealt a crushing blow to the regional economy. The loss of this essential section of the Baltimore Beltway and the impact on shipping routes carry the potential for severe and long-lasting economic damage.

The Port of Baltimore, employing more than 15,000 and supporting nearly 140,000 related jobs, has been indefinitely shuttered. Thousands of port employees now face temporary joblessness or drastically reduced hours. Without the bridge spanning the Patapsco River, traffic congestion will disrupt labor mobility and productivity across many areas.

Compounding the local effects, the Port of Baltimore plays a pivotal role in the nation’s supply chain. Major manufacturers and transport companies rely on the port, as do shipping giants such as FedEx and DHL.

In this challenging time, Baltimore’s Hispanic community has the opportunity to play a leading role as the city recovers from any economic setbacks linked to the bridge collapse. Swift actions by Hispanic organizations, businesses and leaders can help accelerate recovery efforts.

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Community outreach will be vital. Hispanic churches and community organizations should host job fairs, provide career counseling, and raise funds for affected families. Hispanic media can raise awareness of assistance programs and resources available.

Support from Hispanic-owned and Hispanic-led businesses will have an opportunity to provide services and and employment. Hispanic entrepreneurs should look to hire some of the displaced port workers temporarily. Hispanic chambers of commerce in this region can connect businesses facing workforce shortages with available labor.

Policy advocacy Hispanic leaders should push for workforce retraining programs to transition workers into industries less reliant on bridge transport.

Hispanic business and community leaders can advocate for policies that will benefit economic revival, such as ensuring that a meaningful portion of the $60 million in federal emergency funds be allocated for developing the future local workforce.

By rallying behind the #Maryland #Baltimorestrong spirit, the Hispanic community can be a driving force in repairing the economic damage and reigniting economic prosperity in the wake of the bridge catastrophe. The path ahead will be difficult, but through collaborative actions and strong leadership, Hispanics can help put Baltimore on the road to renewed economic vitality.

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¡Si se puede!

Ines Calderon, Baltimore

Ines Calderon is CEO of Calderon Enterprises, which specializes in office relocation. She is also a member of the board of the Metro Baltimore Hispanic Contractors Association and a Hispanic advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion.

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