Howard Henderson

J. Howard Henderson

Empowering African Americans, women and other minorities is not just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.

Earlier this month, Baltimore’s powerhouse leaders including Michal Cryor of One Baltimore, Plank Industries’ Demian Costa, B. Cole, founder of Brioxy, Jeff Cherry, executive director of Conscious Ventures Lab, Richard May, chair of Innovation Village and others came together at a Greater Baltimore Urban League Business Summit to encourage dialogue on economic security and empowerment for women and people of color.

Women and minorities are extremely powerful resources for entrepreneurship and economic development — one that is not currently tapped to its potential. Research has shown that where African Americans and women are economically empowered, communities thrive.

As Baltimore becomes one of the nation’s leading tech hubs, the city must focus on opportunities to grow and diversify Baltimore’s economy. Our goal of this summit and the Greater Baltimore Urban League (GBUL) is to encourage entrepreneurs of all ages, races and ethnicities to create jobs, bolster the city’s economy, strengthen families and neighborhoods and to provide new and creative solutions to the problems of modern life in this city.

It’s time to find new ways to disrupt “business as usual.” As Richard May of Innovation Village explained, “Baltimore’s economy will grow when fueled by advances in technology and lowered barriers to entry to insure inclusiveness for all.”

Attendees at our recent Business Summit included everyone from stay-at-home moms to small business owners and finance pros who are starting and growing new businesses at a remarkable rate.

The Business Summit panel moderated by Betamore President Jen Myer, supported our goal to integrate economic empowerment and entrepreneurship into every layer of our city. We must work together to encourage the full potential of one Baltimore that harnesses our residents’ creative and entrepreneurial talent, removes barriers that restrict full economic participation and maximizes everyone’s contributions towards economic growth.

Yes, there is more to be done to continue to increase opportunities for women and minority entrepreneurs and to raise their profile to the highest levels.

Each of us can also do our part by:

  • Purchasing goods or services from minority and women-owned businesses locally;
  • Supporting organizations that assist minority and women owned businesses; and
  • Offering greater access to capital and investors that support minority and women-founded and led enterprises.

Quite simply, it is great business for Baltimore and Maryland to be equal and united.

J. Howard Henderson is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Urban League.