If anyone had any doubt that job creation was the slowest part of the economic recovery, we saw the evidence when we conducted our survey of Baltimore's Best Places to Work.
Roughly 200 firms participated in the survey, each touting their benefits, perks, and low attrition rates. But when we looked more closely, we found that only about a quarter of those had solid plans to do any substantial hiring in the coming year, which is a prerequisite for a company to make our final list. After all, what's the point of telling readers about a great workplace they can't get into?
Clearly, local companies have found strategies to get through the recession, and most are solidly back in the black. Generally, though, they're just not confident enough about the economic future to start expanding again. But among our pool of the most employee-friendly workplaces in town, we found 35 exceptions.
And we took an interesting sidetrip in the survey this year: While we've avoided including restaurants on the list in the past because that industry is notoriously low-paying and lacking in benefits, we looked harder to find a handful of restaurateurs who work pretty hard to keep their staffs happy.
On a more personal note, I'm honored to be recognized in late January—about the time this issue comes out—with a service award for my support of a medical cause that few people have ever heard of—a kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS. And I'm equally proud to be part of an Orioles family (I'm an investor in the team) that never fails to take care of its own.
The event is Countdown to a Cure, sponsored by The NephCure Foundation, whose event chairman (and a foundation boardmember) is former Orioles executive Jim Duquette. His eight-year-old daughter has suffered from FSGS for the past six years, and the goal of the evening—and of the foundation—is to raise money for awareness and research into this rare disorder.
This condition affects the tiny filtering mechanisms in the kidney, robbing the body of protein, which can result in renal failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. It's the same disease that forced future NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning to require a kidney transplant.
Duquette, a current MLB.com and MLB Network Radio analyst, will be there, along with several former Orioles who will be hosting tables and mingling with fans, while Orioles broadcasters Tom Davis and Fred Manfra will emcee the event. Special invitees include Orioles Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson.
Locally and nationally, there are lots of foundations aimed at raising research money for high-visibility afflictions like cancer, but the task is harder in helping families dealing with more rare disorders.
Readers can support the cause—or alert the foundation to another sufferer—by going to the group's website at nephcure.org.