Baltimore County Now
Minority & Small Business Marketing Manager
How do you say small business? As the Minority and Small Business Marketing Manager for the Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance Purchasing Division, I’m often struck by the huge range of small businesses that are integral to our local economy. Our small businesses include painters, counseling services, accounting/auditing services, workforce development contractors, landscaping services, carpenters, plumbers, manufacturers, retailers, pest control services, janitorial services, hauling contractors, flooring contractors, electricians, printers - just to touch on a tiny fraction.
This week is National Small Business Week, a good time to reflect on the importance of these small but mighty drivers of our nation’s economy. There’s a reason that small business is often described as the backbone of our local, state and national economy. Did you know that Baltimore County is home to 19,508 small businesses and that those small businesses (firms with between 20 and 499 employees) are responsible for the vast majority of employment?
My job is to help these smaller firms compete in a business environment that often tends to favor the larger national and multi-national entities. Since Baltimore County Government is a large purchaser of goods and services, I work to help smaller local firms be better positioned to take advantage of County procurements.
Did you know that one of the criteria for becoming a certified Minority (including Women-owned) business with the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Minority Business Enterprise Office is, the company must meet the SBA’s size standards based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)? The SBA size standards for principal NAICS sectors vary by industry. By including MDOT certified firms in the Baltimore County procurement process through the Minority Business Enterprise Program, the County supports small and disadvantaged businesses throughout the year.
We post potential bidding opportunities online in the areas of health services, human services (training), construction trades, construction (road/highway, building), architect and engineering services, consulting and other professional services, goods, building services and more. Small businesses are encouraged to subscribe to the weekly solicitation notifications.
Baltimore County Small Business Resource Center
From tearooms to sign companies, computer services to hair salons, the Baltimore County Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) has provided guidance to more than 6,000 clients and helped 700 businesses get started since its founding 30 years ago.
The SBRC, a joint effort between the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, helps people establish, grow and improve their business in Baltimore County. The SBRC’s counselors work one-on-one with clients to help them develop business and marketing plans and find financing, real estate and other resources. Counselors also hold drop-in sessions at public libraries throughout the County.
“The SBRC counselors are a wealth of information, providing assistance and advice to current and would-be entrepreneurs at every stage of the business planning process,” said Keith Scott, President and CEO of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and SBRC.
At its annual open house, the SBRC gave an award to Nikki Lewis of Mallow Crunchies, who has worked with both counselors since her business first started at local farmers markets. Today, Lewis sells her treats at The Mallow Bar, a café in Rosedale, focused exclusively on the production and sale of the artisan crispy treats.
From June 17-21, the United States is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Small Business Week. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. Small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.
The Baltimore County Small Business Resource Center is located at 102 West Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson. For more information, or to set up an appointment with a SBRC counselor, call 410-825-6200.
Baltimore County Executive
One of the great pleasures as Baltimore County Executive is the opportunity to share great news that will have a positive impact on everyone living in our County. I just had the pleasure of unveiling Towson Row, a $300 million development project at the southern gateway to downtown Towson.
There are a lot of things I particularly love about this announcement. First, this is truly a transformational private investment in downtown Towson and in our County. The offices, apartments, student housing, hotel, shops, restaurants, an upscale grocery with plenty of parking will truly transform our County seat into a vibrant downtown center.
It’s a bit difficult to visualize where all this development fits into downtown Towson. Towson Row will be bounded by York Road, Towsontown Boulevard, Chesapeake, Susquehanna, and Washington Avenues. Right now, there are mostly older office buildings and parking lots on these five acres, but since they sit behind other buildings, it’s a bit hard to see from the major roads. But don’t worry, once the project is built, you won’t be able to miss it! You’ll start to see construction in 2015.
Second, Towson Row will be developed, owned and managed by Caves Valley Partners. This is the team that transformed the former Investment Building at the Towson traffic circle into the gleaming, fully leased Towson City Center. Caves Valley Partners is based in Baltimore County and brings development expertise and success, plus a vision and commitment to excellence from a team that lives and works here.
Third, Towson Row is $300 million in private sector investment. This project will bring millions in new property tax revenue to Baltimore County, which will help us support public safety, public education, and restore our aging infrastructure, and help us continue to hold the line on income and property tax rates. It will also provide construction jobs and new employment opportunities.
Fourth, Towson has become a “hot spot” for new development. Over $600 million in private investment is taking shape in downtown Towson just in the past three years. We now add Towson Row to Towson City Center, residences at The Palisades and 101 YORK, and the Towson Square movies theatres and restaurants. Take a virtual video tour of new development in downtown Towson.
I’m pleased and proud to say “it’s Towson’s Time.”