A letter from the editor

December 13, 1990|By Catherine E. Pugh

This issue marks our sixth annual section on black-owned businesses in Maryland. In spite of the economic climate, and like similar businesses around the country, Maryland's black-owned businesses have experienced some growth coupled with some interesting occurrences in 1990.

This year saw the largest development contract -- $37 million -- to be awarded to a black firm in the history of the city . The recipient was City Crescent Limited Partnership, a partnership between Otis Warren of Otis Warren and Co., and Theo Rodgers of A & R Development Co. The contract, awarded by the U.S. General Services Administration, is for an 11-story office building at Market Center in downtown Baltimore.

In other developments, Stop Shop & Save opened its 11th supermarket in Baltimore, while Pailen-Johnson & Associates expanded its Rockville-based firm to Baltimore. World Computers, a Silver Spring firm, nearly tripled its sales from $11 million in 1988 to $30 million in 1989.

Maryland's full-service minority-owned bank, Harbor Bank of Maryland, opened its third location in Baltimore. The bank's success in a climate where bank stocks are dropping and savings and loans are closing can be attributed to the leadership of its conservative president, Joseph Haskins Jr., and its board of directors. Many of these success stories are featured in this issue.

Going into business is a tremendous undertaking and requires planning and, in many cases, technical and financial assistance not always readily available at local financial institutions. Maryland has several programs, public and private, aimed at providing technical and financial assistance to individuals who desire to go into business. In this issue, we provide information about them and how you may contact them.

Every year in this issue we furnish a list of 50 leading black-owned businesses in Maryland in an effort to show the diversity and expertise that exists among them, and to foster relationships with other members of our business community. Below are some facts about this year's list worth noting:

*Twenty-nine of the businesses are in Baltimore.

*Thirteen are in Prince George's County.

*Eight are in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.

*Largest employer is a Rockville firm, Maxima Corp., with 918 employees.

*The largest retail operation is the partnership of Stop Shop & Save, with $65 million in volume sales.

*The largest service business is Four Seasons Seven Winds, with $41.5 million in sales.

*Largest manufacturer is Parks Sausage Co., with $26.5 million in sales.

*The largest investment firm is the Chapman Co., with $140 million in assets managed.

*The oldest firm is the Afro-American Newspapers, founded in 1892.

*Ten of the firms are headed by women.

*Total employees for all firms is 7,865.

*Sales volume of the firms, not including assets managed, is $509 million.

The growth of minority-owned business is important because the growth impacts our economy, which is why fostering relationships that span our community is necessary. It is the development of relationships between minority business and the business community in general that will assure our continued growth.

On Dec. 5, the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development held a conference to foster minority business growth and to discuss Maryland's agenda for helping minority and small businesses to reach new heights. To achieve the objectives outlined, which include access to capital and procurement opportunities, will require involvement from our private sector.

The state over the past year has aided in the development of another program to assist individuals who want to go into business. The BOSS Project (Business Owners Start-Up Services) is a national demonstration project aimed at assisting welfare recipients and the underemployed to go into business.

It is an experimental program that the state hopes will work, and so does the Abell Foundation, which pitched in the initial $100,000 to get a loan fund off the ground from which graduates will be able to borrow. The program will need a $2-million revolving loan fund. More about the program appears in this issue.

I don't believe we can do enough to foster business growth and development. More importantly, I can't emphasize enough the need to draw on each other's expertise and experiences, and to become more inclusive as big and small business owners, black and white. This kind of involvement will assure that our state evolves economically.

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