(BOWIE – September 18, 2023) – When Gov. Wes Moore first took office earlier this year, he made Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) a priority of his administration. He said his procurement officers of the various agencies had 60 days to return with a plan to increase their utilization of MBEs.
The state goal is 29%.
Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and former Gov. Martin O’Malley both made MBE a priority of their administrations. Gov. Moore is not only following suit, but he appears to be doubling down.
It is one thing for the Board of Public Works to question and even halt a prime contractor from gaining a contract because they fail to meet the 29% goal. That has happened several times.
However, to have Gov. Moore require his procurement officers to make a plan to increase this number is, to say the least, impressive. Gov. Moore appears to be serious about MBEs, and, according to Adrian Harpool, is making promising steps to increase the number of MBEs getting contracts. Yesterday’s event at Bowie State University, according to Harpool, demonstrated his commitment to positive change for an otherwise forsaken business demographic.
On February 16th, Governor Moore signed an executive order to underscore his administration’s commitment to strengthening participation, compliance, and accountability for Maryland’s Minority Business Enterprise program. The executive order—the first minority business enterprise-related order issued by any Maryland governor—provides the Moore-Miller administration with data to assess Maryland’s current Minority Business Enterprise program performance and inform program development strategy.
“I’ve said this before and I will say this again, I am data-driven and heart-led; the data shows that we are not meeting the mark in our Minority Business Enterprise program, so my heart is saying we must do everything we can to not only meet our goals, but exceed them,” said Governor Moore. “Our administration has the most diverse cabinet in history, and it’s critical that we take the first step forward in delivering more access and opportunities to our minority-owned businesses in order to create a more economically competitive and inclusive state.”
The State of Maryland established the Minority Business Enterprise program in 1978 to increase economic opportunity and participation for minority and women-owned firms to compete in state government procurement. In 2013, Maryland established a 29% Minority Business Enterprise participation goal in all qualifying state procurement expenditures, which the state has consistently failed to meet.
Harpool told BMORENews.com in an exclusive interview, “The purpose of the event was to shed the light of accountability on the governor’s commitment and to challenge my fellow Black entrepreneurs to become a part of that equation.”
He added, “I was very pleased with the results yesterday. Based on the level of interaction and engagement between the entrepreneurs present and the agency representatives, it was very inspiring. It appeared to create an onramp for establishing some relationships and hopefully, more entrepreneurs will be doing some business in Maryland.”
Harpool said that there will be another event just like yesterday’s at Coppin State University on October 24th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gov. Moore is scheduled to speak at this event as well. Harpool said that the goal of the Maryland Minority Business Counts Initiative is to host such events outside of Annapolis. By decentralizing the event, more entrepreneurs from the various areas around the state will be able to better take advantage of the opportunities.
According to mybusinesscounts.org, “The Maryland Minority Business Counts Initiative is designed to identify, promote, support, and encourage current and future Black business owners in our state. Our primary goal is to assist these entrepreneurs in pursuing and securing contracts from the significant annual expenditure of $18.9 billion from Maryland’s budget. It is in support of Governor Moore’s vision for creating ‘Work, Wages, and Wealth’ through leveraging business opportunities among groups of Black entrepreneurs that have long been impacted by systemic racism that we have pledged to support his administration through this collaboration.”
According to Sean Stinnett, “It was a great first event for the Maryland Minority Business Counts.”
Stinnett, who is the MBE/VSBE/SBR Liaison & MBE/VSBE Compliance Supervisor, continued, “Representatives from the Maryland Department of General Services, including myself, had the opportunity to speak on two panels and conduct one-on-one sessions with a number of minority business owners on how to navigate through eMMA (eMaryland Marketplace Advantage), search through the State’s forecast, and overall how to do business with the State of Maryland.”
He added, “We are looking forward to MMBC’s next event in October at Coppin State University.”
The main purpose of this position is to assist the Department of General Services (DGS) in meeting the requirements of the Maryland State Finance and Procurement Annotated Code Articles 14-201, 14-301, 14-501 and 14-601 and the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 21.11.01, 21.11.03 and 21.11.13, which includes all statutory, regulatory and policy requirements of the Small Business Reserve (SBR), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), and Veteran-owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) programs.
Approximately 10 state agencies had representation at yesterday’s event.