One day in June 2002, a man named Frank Stronach took a walk down Park Heights Avenue, in the blocks just below Belvedere Avenue. Mr. Stronach was not out for a stroll; he went looking for troubling streets, and in the Pimlico section of Park Heights he thought he found them. That is why there is now a building as large as a public school (which it once was), identified in foot high letters, “Magna Baltimore Technical Training Center” (MBTTC). Inside, and on the grounds surrounding the building, a quiet transformation in human rehabilitation is taking place, in job training, education, recreation and social services — and Frank Stronach, founder and president of MAGNA, and Paul Myles, director of MBTTC, are making it happen. (MAGNA International, Inc., which includes in its corporate family Magna Entertainment Corporation, owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park).
On two floors, in 48,000 square feet of simulated factory working spaces, are the lathes, drill presses, surface grinders, welding equipment, vertical mills, and computers that make up a sophisticated teaching faculty that turns unemployed high school graduates into highly skilled workers geared to earn as much as $30 an hour in America’s tool and die trade. For those who have not completed high school, there is a school on premises to guide them to a GED degree, a high school equivalent. There are social services to provide emotional support where needed. Outside, for use by both the school and the neighborhood, is a swimming pool and basketball courts.
How do young people down on their luck find themselves in such fortunate circumstances? Mr. Myles says, “When we first opened in 2002, we hung a banner outside above the door, advertising the facility, and the
opportunity to learn the tool and die trade. Within days we had over 400 applicants.”
Lynnard Jennifer is a 19 year old student at MAGNA. He comes to Pimlico every day from Bel Air. He says, “What I learned here about the tool and die craft has given me a passion for it.” And Norman Holman,
from nearby Levindale Road, said “I was attending the church next door, when I saw that banner. I can see this job training giving me a lifetime of decent pay.”
Who is Frank Stronanch and why has he provided MBTTC with a $12,000,000 investment in plant and an annual budget to support the operation? Born in Austria, Mr. Stronach emigrated to Canada in 1954. With a working background in tool and machine engineering, he formed a tool and die company in 1957 in a garage. The formation of this company marked the beginning of a corporate evolution and transformation of
the company into global conglomerate known today as Magna International. Inc. Today Magna is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the automotive industry in the world, with 82,000 employees in 210 manufacturing plants.
In 1971, according to the company’s literature, Mr. Stronach introduced to MAGNA his management philosophy known as Fair Enterprise government, which seeks to balance the demands of private enterprise with
a corporate commitment to allocate 2 percent of its pretax profits to support programs in the public interest—in health care, culture, social issues, community development education, sports, and politics.
Mr. Myles says that there are about 20 students in the program now and MAGNA pays 100 percent of the $7,000 tuition, and that he is looking for many more students than that. He says, “It’s time to put up the
The Abell Foundation salutes the Baltimore Technical Training Center, for providing deserving young men and women the wherewithal to learn the tool and die trade, and the passion to make a life within it.