Empowering Black Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Posted by: Chief of Business Development, Lucretia Freeman-Buster on Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Black History Month is a time for us to reflect on the past, present, and future of Black free enterprise and its influence on the U.S. business landscape and economy.   African American business ownership has provided generations of African Americans the opportunity to build wealth and contribute to our local economies. 

Black entrepreneurs are vibrant and robust, representing enormous economic potential.  The Economic Development Department is empowering black businesses and entrepreneurs not just during Black History Month, but all the time.  Our Business Development Loan Fund targets minority-owned businesses, providing funding for business growth and expansion. The Economic Development Department (EDD) also administers the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Small Local Business Enterprises (SLBE) programs to assist business owners, including African American businesses, get certified, giving them the opportunity to better compete for government contracts.

While Black enterprises may still encounter substantial barriers compared to the average small enterprise, the Economic Development Department recognizes how imperative it is that all business owners have access to the resources of funding and education that will assist them to take their business to the next level.

Here's a closer look at the programs and resources available to Charles County small businesses.


Small Local Business Enterprise Program (SLBE)

Charles County supports the vitality of small businesses by encouraging them to participate in County contracts and other procurement opportunities.

In order to qualify for the program, businesses must first be certified in the State of Maryland's Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program, and then be certified by the Purchasing Office as a "local" business. Once fully registered, SLBE firms are eligible for preferences in County procurement subject to the SLBE Program.

The SLBE program is for all Charles County based businesses, but our local minority and black-owned companies can benefit when competing against larger, non-Charles County based firms.

Minority Business Enterprise Program (MBE)

The Minority Business Enterprise Program encourages women, people of color, veterans, and disabled entrepreneurs to take their seats at the procurement table. This program encourages minority business participation in the County procurement process by providing technical assistance with certification, networking, and promoting MBEs as subcontractors on County projects.

The County conducts its own MBE registration and recognizes MBE certification by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Federal 8-A certification. To qualify as an MBE, applicants must own 51 percent of their business and classify as one of the following:

  • African American
  • Asian American
  • Indian/Native American
  • Hispanic
  • Disabled American Veteran
  • Physically and Mentally Disabled
  • Woman

MBE firms benefit from the certification, networking, and revenue streams made possible by the program.

Local and Minority Business Tools

For emerging businesses, the College of Southern Maryland’s  Small Business Development Center connect the dots between product development and profit.

Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) provides counseling services at no or low cost to Maryland small business owners who want to do business with government and respond to RFPs.  

The College of Southern Maryland’s Diversity Institute holds workshops and networking opportunities relevant to the modern workplace.


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