This is the seventh annual Black Business supplement to appear in The Baltimore Sun. It highlights some of the opportunities and developments taking place in the business community. We profile some businesses and focus on their development. We also provide a list of 50 leading black businesses in the state.
We note that several changes have taken place over the past year, some good and some not so good. Sales figures for many of our companies featured over the years have dropped significantly, and some of the companies recently profiled and listed have even gone out of business.
There are two companies appearing on this list that are deserving of special mention. They are Parks Sausage Company and Stop Shop and Save Supermarkets.
Parks Sausage received two honors this year. Its president, Raymond V. Haybsert Sr., accepted from President Bush the Minority Business of the Year award and the Regional Manufacturer of the Year award at a White House ceremony.
Henry Baines and Edward Hunt, owners of Stop Shop and Save Supermarkets, bought their 12th supermarket, and expect to have it open by the end of this year. The new store will be in the Northwood Shopping Center. Mr. Baines and Mr. Hunt are also to be applauded for having made the largest single donation of any company, $100,000, to the Baltimore Urban League for the restoration of its Orchard Street site.
These are tough economic times, and according to all the barometers and forecasters, times will get tougher before they get better. The condition of the economy has created much controversy in terms of where we should go from here as a community, city, state and nation.
I think it is imperative that we focus on where we go as a community first. If you can't help yourself, surely you will not be able to help others. I was talking recently to some friends, who pointed out that church membership is growing. They said that they had not seen so many middle class people in church before, and wondered why.
I said that when times get tough, more and more people, middle class and otherwise, turn to the church in their communities for answers. And, I predicted that before things get better we will see church rolls swollen because of the economic crunch, which causes people to examine their lives.
Centers such as churches have always served as foundations for survival for the black community. Most churches are involved in social programs and community outreach efforts, but today's problems will require more economic-oriented programs to provide jobs and business opportunities for church members.
I did some research recently on a Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company. I did the research because I worked for an organization a number of years ago that ran a MESBIC.
MESBICs lend money to individuals who want to go into business and don't have the resources. I assigned the story that appears in this issue to Wiley Hall, who expands on the research and provides more insight into MESBICs. Briefly, MESBICs are companies licensed by the federal government to provide matching funds for companies and institutions.
As we look for solutions to the economic condition facing our society, we must look to alternatives by forming MESBICs and starting businesses in our community.
Our communities are full of talented people who, because of their education, skills and training, are better equipped than at any other time in history to serve their communities. We need only to provide the resources for them to do so.
There is one institution in the black community, the church, that is capable of raising the amount of money needed to form Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Companies. Raising the money is half the battle. If the church meets this challenge, then those individuals with the expertise to structure MESBICs must be willing to provide their services to the church community to make this approach to economic development work.
It would be interesting to see the largest institition in the black community, the church, where so many have flocked for spiritual guidance and comfort, to pursue the roll of forming MESBICs. This would be a massive undertaking and would require true commitment.
I believe that where there is a will there is a way.