In recognition of Black History Month in February, the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) held its “Ready, Set, Grow” government procurement workshop in St. Mary’s County last week and presented five Governor’s Citations to four Southern Maryland businesses and the head of the Southern Maryland Minority Chamber of Commerce.
“In the state of Maryland, there are 561,000 small businesses. That number is representative of 97.5 percent of the entire business community. So the majority are small business,” GOMA’s Eduardo Hayden, small business outreach manager, said before the presentation Feb. 28 at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Md. “Out of that chunk, 78 percent are small, minority and women owned. For us, small and minority businesses are all kind of the same in Maryland because they (minority) are such a large chunk of the entire business community.”
Before handing out the citations, GOMA Deputy Secretary Herbert Jordan III told the crowd of 75 or so business and community leaders that it was important to reiterate the importance of small businesses, and minority businesses, to the state.
“It’s Black History Month, and obviously there are some business people in the Southern Maryland region that are big contributors — we just want to make sure we single them out this month and recognize their contributions,” Jordan said.
The first citation went to Guy Black of Blackout Investigations and Security Services, based in Waldorf. He was recommended for the citation by the Charles County Department of Economic Development.
Wynne Briscoe of Forever Eden Organics in California, Md., received the second citation. She was recommended by the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development.
John and Marsha Glover of Glover’s Septic Services in Huntingtown was the third recipient. The couple was recommended by the Calvert County Department of Economic Development.
Sterling Green of Arness Mechanical Services in Waldorf was the fourth recipient. He was recommended by the Small Business Development Center at the College of Southern Maryland.
The last citation was presented to Doris Cammack-Spencer of Chesapeake Beach, the president and CEO of the Southern Maryland Minority Chamber of Commerce. The citation was recommended by the Circle of Angels Initiative, Inc.
“Thank you for the participation to all those other organizations for making it happen and bringing the folks that we need to recognize at this time of year to celebrate the diversity in our counties and our state,” Jordan said after handing out the citations.
The “Ready, Set, Grow” workshop that followed was an opportunity for GOMA to get small businesses involved in state government procurement: to help them find the resources and help necessary to pursue government contracts large and small, whether as a prime contractor or as a subcontractor.
“‘Ready, Set, Grow’ is the main program we’ve been taking out once a month around Maryland,” Hayden said. “It’s a procurement connection workshop. It’s meant to bring agencies and vendors together.”
“We do this all over the state because [Gov. Larry Hogan (R)] says Maryland is open for business,” Jordan said of the program. “In every corner of the state, there’s some state agency doing some procurement.”
Jordan, who has a background working in large corporations, said, aside from learning the government contracting ropes, it was also important for small business people to be their own lobbyists and to speak up, for or against, legislation and government policies.
“The big guys have lobbyists; for the little guys, you’re your own lobbyist,” he told the crowd. “We try to get these guys to make phone calls and email their legislators so that good stuff is supported. … The democratic process still works, but you’ve got to be your own lobbyist as a small business.
“We can’t say for or against — we can’t lobby — but we can show you the things that you need to pay attention to. Things can’t make your life easy or more difficult — you decide, but be engaged.”