The Department of Economic Development provides services to the county's small and minority businesses by creating initiatives and forming partnerships with community organizations, business groups, private enterprises, and other public agencies. The Division of Business Empowerment was created to ensure a comprehensive approach to service delivery for the more than 40,000 small and minority businesses located in Montgomery County that is effective and consistent. Although DBE focuses primarily on small and minority businesses, other divisions such as the Division of Marketing and Business Development will also assist with small business development.
Included within the Division of Business Empowerment Division are the following functions:
- Small Business Services (including outreach);
- Local Small Business Reserve Program;
- Women and Minority Business Services;
- Microenterprise Program;
- Business Mentorship Program;
- Business Innovation Network.
The consolidation of these functions meets the following Montgomery County objectives:
- Healthy and sustainable community;
- Keeping Montgomery Moving;
- Having a responsive and accountable county government.
The Department of Economic Development's loan programs are designed to address the needs of small and minority business development and growth. Should you require assistance in developing your loan packages, please contact the Maryland Small Business Development Center Network or call at 301-403-0501.
The department's loan programs include:
Small Business Revolving Loan Fund Provides loans to acquire fixed assets, contract financing, expansion capital, and/or to finance the acquisition or construction of real estate.
Economic Development Fund Offers assistance to private employers in targeted industries to either retain jobs already in the county or attract new jobs to the county.
Technology Growth Fund Provides gap financing for emerging technology-based companies with innovative products or services.
Micro-enterprise Loan Program The Montgomery County Department of Economic Development is partnering with the State of Marylandí»s Department of Business and Economic Development to provide microenterprise loans to small and minority firms. The program will provide loans to small businesses and to individuals thinking of starting their own business. The program is scheduled to begin in 2008.
Procurement and Contracts
All Montgomery County procurements are managed by the Office of Procurement, except those purchases made for the Montgomery County School Board, and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Please contact each organization directly regarding potential contract opportunities.
For those Montgomery County contracts having minority participation goals, Montgomery County recognizes certifications from the Maryland Department of Transportation. Small and minority firms are also encouraged to use other certifications that are available. The Maryland /DC Minority Supplier Development Council certifies businesses as minority vendors for supplier diversity programs for many private corporations located throughout the state.
Montgomery County is committed to promoting increased procurement and contract awards to minority vendors and ensuring that minority vendors also participate as suppliers and contractors to private corporations and other jurisdictions.
The Department of Economic Development works to ensure the success rate of small and minority businesses through technical assistance activities such as the small business conferences, procurement and contracting fairs, business mentorship programs and international trade seminars.
Major employers and government agencies are often in attendance to discuss contracting opportunities with small and minority vendors. Seminars are also conducted and may include topics such as strategies to market services or products and how to obtain contracts.
Start-up businesses can also attend the StartRight Training Classes offered by Montgomery College. In addition, the Maryland Small Business Development Center Network provides a variety of entrepreneurial classes that are offered free or at a nominal charge.
Small and minority businesses benefit greatly from the many strategic partnerships that have been formed with other organizations interested in advancing opportunities for small and minority businesses.
This includes organizations such as:
- Charles W. Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity;
- Federal Lab Consortium;
- Greater Washington Board of Trade;
- Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association;
- Maryland Washington Minority Contractor's Association;
- Women In Technology;
- Women Business Owners of Montgomery County;
- Various other local groups.
For those small companies that may choose to enter the Business Innovation Network, there are monthly training sessions as well as other outreach activities that are available. For example, the Maryland Technology Development Center, one of four innovation centers in operation, provides office and wet lab space as well as business services and counseling to emerging technology companies. One resource available to Business Innovation Network participants is the Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center. This service provides low-cost legal and intellectual property services that will explore emerging ethical, legal and policy issues for start-up high technology and bio-pharma companies.
The department works closely with:
- Numerous chambers of commerce;
- U.S. Small Business Administration;
- U.S. Department of Commerce;
- Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development;
- Montgomery College's Macklin Business Institute: Workforce Development and Continuing Education and Hispanic Business Institute;
- Maryland Small Business Development Center Network;
- A. Mario Loiderman Procurement Center.
The Business Information Center at the Rockville Regional Library is also an excellent resource for business research.