I want to commend Governor Martin O’Malley and his team for holding the Minority Business Enterprise University around the State. Montgomery County is proud to welcome this event back this year
For those of you who have not been to Downtown Silver Spring in a while, I hope you are pleasantly surprised by what you see. For starters, this building -- our Silver Spring Civic Building – opened a few years ago and is a great venue, ideal for business events like today’s and it is also available for community events.
Downtown Silver Spring is also home to the world headquarters of Discovery Communications, Radio One and United Therapeutics.
And, within a few blocks is the AFI Silver Spring, The Fillmore and so many other great businesses, restaurants, boutiques and more.
These are just some of the things that make Montgomery County such a great location for MBEs.
Minority Business development is, of course, important to all of us and this event is all about helping to strengthen minority businesses.
Several major companies continue to thrive in Montgomery County: Marriott Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Hughes Network Systems, Discovery Communications, In addition to NIH, we have other federal research facilities such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and mAs NIH believes that “Small Business in the Heart of our Economy,” I agree and add that Montgomery County with our diversity of small businesses in the engine of the Maryland economy.
As Montgomery County Executive, I have focused for years on the procurement process to provide these opportunities to minority and women firms.
I made a pledge at the start of my first term to make our local government more responsive, more accountable and more effective. For our business community, my goal was to make the process of doing business with and in the County less burdensome and noticeably more business friendly.
We have made several significant changes in this regard. The thresholds for direct open market purchases were increased to give business owners access to more contract dollars. For example, a cap of $5,000 increased to $10,000 for our departments to make direct purchases. The informal procurement cap increased from $25,000 to $100,000 and formal procurements now began at $100,000.
To become more business friendly, we eliminated the bid request and bid subscription fees, making it easier for businesses to respond to contracting opportunities.
We also made a strong commitment to do more business with local firms, primarily via our Local Small Business Reserve Program – which in FY12 awarded contracts with a total value of more than $200 million to local MBE and small businesses.
We expanded our minority business certification along with MDOT to include the Maryland/DC Minority Supplier Development Council.
In addition, the County deposited $50 million in several local banks that, in turn, will augment those funds to provide loans to local businesses. This initiative alone offers tremendous access to capital for our local small and MBE business community.
We have a highly successful Business Innovation Network which include five facilities housing 160 companies and supporting 850 jobs, an active Small Business Revolving Loan Fund – which has given almost $465,000 in loans to ten companies between FY09 and FY13, a very successful Business Mentorship Program – with more than 60 percent MBE participation - and a new Small Business Navigator – all functions of our Department of Economic Development.
I believe DED director Steve Silverman is here today, Steve?
Steve and his team have made it a priority to support, grow and assist our small and minority business community in any way possible.
We understand and value the significant contributions these businesses make to ensuring the continued vibrancy of our local economy.
After all, 96% of the County’s roughly 33,000 businesses have 50 or fewer employees.
We also have ongoing relationships with the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, Maryland Small Business Development Network, Small Business Administration, Latino Economic Development Corporation and the MD/DC Minority Supplier Development Council.
Our collaborative work has generated loans, saved businesses, and initiated contractual relationships.
Montgomery County is the home to over 24,000 business establishments with 50 or fewer employees.
As I conclude, I encourage every small business representative here today to sign up for and monitor opportunities via our Local Small Business Reserve Program.
You can sign up on the County’s website (www.montgomerycountymd.gov) and then go to our Department of General Services homepage where you will see the Local Reserve tab.
Our support of small businesses is through existing and new initiatives: introduction of legislation to create a local biotech tax credit, the new Stimulus Opportunity System (SOS) to provide free online database on 52,000-plus federal contract and grant opportunities, a small business mentoring program, workforce training and agricultural-business support, Local Small Business Reserve Program, and a strategy to support a Green Economy.
Thanks again to the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs for organizing this important MBE University outreach event.
Montgomery County is open for business and we will continue to do all we can to support the growth and success of minority businesses! Thank you!
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today. I wish your success today and look forward to you doing business in Montgomery County.