Meet Tranice Watts, Co-Chair of Our Business Outreach Committee

Posted by: Economic Development Team on Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Charles Countians might be familiar with the name, Tranice Watts, because of her co-ownership of Patuxent Brewing Company, the county’s first craft brewery and only 100% Black-owned taproom/brewery in the State of Maryland. There’s a lot more to her story. Ms. Watts brings a wealth of small business experience, project management, and communication skills to her role as Co-Chair of our Business Outreach Committee (BOC).

In addition to helping steer the Economic Development Department’s BOC, Watts spends most of her time nowadays on a non-profit she co-founded, Lifting Lucy (BIWoC in Beer). The organization is dedicated to increasing representation of Black, Indigenous, and all Women of Color in the brewing industry. They work to foster educational opportunities, increase access to resources, and remove barriers that hinder BIWOC from adding to the socioeconomic impact of the $62 billion U.S. craft beer industry.

Back to the Beginning

Prior to her current responsibilities, Ms. Watts worked in Peer Reviewing and Philanthropic Divisions for the Pew Charitable Trusts. From 2006 to 2013, she was a special assistant to Dr. Robert W. Corell, who won the peace prize along with Al Gore and others at IPCC for their environmental work. Concurrently, she was also the former technical analyst for the Global Environment and Technology Foundation (GETF) and its support staff for the Global Energy Assessment’s U.S. office.

That experience built a strong background in project management and technical assistance, with a knack for communication. She said, “A lot of that work involved policy and communicating things to different audiences. Every audience is different, and sometimes you only have 15 seconds to explain why a policy is beneficial.”

From there, Watts opened up the Maryland Furniture Bank. “That was my first company that I opened,” she reflected. “It was a nonprofit, and I found out quickly that, because I didn’t plan properly, I didn’t have enough room for the amount of donations we were getting, and I didn’t have enough staff because I really didn’t realize how many people needed this resource.” That first business served as a model for her going forward. She added, when planning a business, you really need to take two years to plan.

She also started to walk hand in hand with people to help them get certified to bid on government contracts, enter the procurement business, and how to do it properly. “There are plenty of resources and webinars about it,” Watts said, “but I found that people were still timid about it. So, I’ve helped a lot of people connect and get their businesses certified.”

Watts got a call from a friend one day, and he said he was thinking about opening up a brewery. “I applied everything I’d learned from working with small businesses, and I said, ‘this is what we need to do.’”  She helped with communications, letting the neighborhood know they were coming two years in advance and how they’d impact the community. “Not everyone knows beer language nor how breweries help the county flourish,” she said. She also developed the website and helped with legislation and letting the community know they were here to serve—not just provide beer.

Experiences Brought to the BOC

In her own words, Watts says she’s been in Charles County since “before the mall was even here.” She said, as a young, black woman, “I can understand a lot of the different sensitivities within our community. I can remember when it [Charles County] was an agricultural scene and before a lot of the heavy development came, so I can understand when people are saying, ‘Hey, don’t forget about us.’” She knows it’s important to remember those groups when resources are available, but also subcommunities in the county, like differently abled, women of color, retirees, and most important, our youth.

Goals for the BOC

As a part of the BOC, Watts says, “I think my goals are to encourage people to utilize the resources that are already available to them. I want to help them understand that I, too, was at that point where you’re a little nervous; you don’t know if you belong in the room to connect with particular people. I want them to know they absolutely belong, and we’re proud to have their business retained in Charles County.”

About doing business in Charles County, she said, “Charles County is a beautiful melting pot of various backgrounds, various experiences. It really is a place where anyone can come and thrive if they’re willing to be wonderful, productive citizens. We have some of the best resources and some of the best staff who are easily approachable for businesses, whether it be a very small business or a major development or corporation. We are set up to help sustain businesses and help them grow.”

Learn more about our Business Outreach Committee here and check out our Business Support web section to learn how the Charles County Economic Development Department can help your business.

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