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The right connections can launch a business in a whole new direction. That’s what many women-, veteran-, disabled- and minority-owned small businesses discovered June 27 at the Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce’s Procurement Matchmaking Small Business Expo in La Plata.

Doris J. Cammack-Spencer, president and CEO of the chamber, knows the importance of connecting and creating opportunities for area businesses. So, it was important for the organization to set the stage to foster successful relationships between small businesses and major contractors and contracting organizations, a press release states. Dozens of large companies, prime contractors, financial institutions and local, state and federal government agencies gathered at the College of Southern Maryland for the expo.

“At SMBCC, our goal is to level the playing field by helping members gain access to business opportunities in the private and public sectors,” Cammack-Spencer said in the release. “We accomplish this by educating members on contract opportunities, helping them increase their capacity to vie for large-scale contracts, and offering resources and information that enhance black owners’ ability to compete.”

At the expo, small business owners met one on one and networked with a broad base of area executives and business owners; scheduled matchmaking appointments to secure or learn more about government or commercial contracts; and attended strategic workshops focused on maximizing business certifications, teaming for success and exploring financing options that can help expand small businesses, the release states.

“I was so glad to attend the SMBCC small business expo,” Elizabeth D. Mackay, of the Mackay Law Firm LLC in National Harbor, said in the release. “I’ve been to numerous diversity events concerning the legal profession and I can state that this chamber event was superior. I left feeling encouraged about the contacts I made and look forward to pursuing those relationships. I could see that the corporate and government participants were serious in their commitment to use diverse businesses.”

Monya R. Emery, a sourcing manager for Verizon, said in the release, “Our company has an ongoing commitment to identify and expand effective business partnerships with diverse suppliers. Supplier diversity is a corporate initiative and business imperative. Verizon has deep roots in the markets we serve, and we are devoted to enhancing the economic development of those communities.”

Emery said her team takes full advantage of opportunities like the SMBCC small business expo to connect with companies and help them find ways to do business with Verizon, the release states. Interested businesses can register in the Verizon supplier database at

The small business expo also included a networking luncheon with keynote speaker Calvin Butler, senior vice president of Exelon and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., who discussed how small businesses can and will play a key role as Southern Maryland explodes with opportunities in the energy, health care and information technology arenas, according to the release.

The event was hosted in partnership with CSM’s Small Business and Technology Development Center; Charles County Economic Development; Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative; Calvert County Minority Business Alliance; Meridian Management Group; Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development; G.S. Proctor and Associates; Lord and Tucker Management Consultants; Office of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th); Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Program; SPC Consulting; Mulberry Regal Management Consulting; Financial Strategies LLC; M&T Bank; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Sponsors included Charles County Government, DBED, Exelon, Facchina Construction Co., Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, MedStar Health, Pepco, SMECO, Verizon and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.