Governor addresses the state of minority business enterprises in Maryland
BALTIMORE, MD (May 7, 2010) – Today, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown hosted the MBE University Conference in Baltimore to support Maryland’s minority and women-owned businesses and to highlight the State’s MBE progress. This is the second in a series of conferences that will travel around the State to offer training, opportunities, and information on the tools necessary for minority or woman-owned businesses to expand, create jobs, and thrive even in difficult economic times. Today’s conference in Baltimore focused on access to capital, attracting more than 300 interested attendees to the event. Baltimore County Executive James Smith and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also attended the event.
“As we seek to turn the corner from recession to prosperity, our mission is simple: to create jobs, to save jobs, to improve the conditions that empower businesses to create and save jobs,” said Governor O’Malley. “In your state government we have the most ambitious goals for Minority Business Enterprise in the United States of America. MBE University is designed to help us exceed them, together.”
Governor O’Malley launched MBE University in December 2009 in Prince George’s County, where more than business owners gathered to discuss ways to expand opportunity to small, minority and women owned businesses throughout Maryland.
“By investing in Maryland’s small and minority-owned businesses, we are not only supporting our working families and expanding job opportunities, but we are building a stronger future with a diverse economy,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Governor O’Malley and I are dedicated to strengthening our workforce and providing Marylanders with the vital information and resources they need to successfully open new doors in their communities and continue to thrive for years to come.”
Participants had the opportunity to attend workshops that provided information on contracting with the State as an MBE, response procedures for bid solicitations, MBE certification process, commercial insurance and public/private partnerships. The conference also offered a Financial Pavilion -Speed Dating segment that provided entrepreneurs with an opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from approximately 15 financial lenders/organizations. MBE University’s private sector sponsors and partners included Wachovia Bank, Verizon, National Association of Women Business Owners-Baltimore Regional Chapter (NAWBO), and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. Verizon also hosted a workshop on how to do business with its organization, and NAWBO hosted a workshop on women and entrepreneurship.
“Under the leadership of Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland continues to make substantial progress in its capacity building initiatives for MBEs,” said Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs Special Secretary Luwanda Jenkins. “MBE University is a more focused outreach effort designed to connect MBE firms with vital opportunities and resources.”
Maryland is home to one of the nation’s leading MBE programs, and it has established the highest minority and women-owned business contracting goals in the nation at 25 percent. In addition, Maryland is one of only 15 states in the nation with MBE goals and one of only a few states with an MBE law in statute. Maryland remains the only state in the nation to collect uniform reporting data including actual payments to MBEs.
In Fiscal Year 2009, Maryland state agencies achieved 22 percent MBE participation, up from 20 percent in the previous year. These include over $1.6 billion in awards to MBE firms, an increase of 26 percent in one year, and $1 billion in payment to MBE firms.
“MBE University” was created in collaboration with the State’s minority business coordinating agencies and the Governor’s Office. Coordinating agencies include the Department of Business and Economic Development, the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, the Department of General Services, the Department of Housing & Community Development, and the Governor’s Grants Office. The 2010 conference schedule includes Southern Maryland on May 21st, Eastern Shore on June 16th, Western Maryland on July 7th, and Capital Region (Montgomery County) in fall 2010.
For more information on the MBE University Initiative, contact the Governor’s Office at 410-767-8232 or visit www.mdminoritybusiness.com.