As the black population of Baltimore County has increased in the past decade, the number of black-owned businesses also has grown.
Now the county's Office of Minority Affairs plans for the first time to list those businesses in a directory, scheduled to be published this fall.
"With the influx of African-Americans into the county, especially along the Liberty Road corridor, we're hearing more questions about where to find, say, a black barber or a black florist," said Adrienne A. Jones, the director of the county's minority affairs office. "We hope the directory will help steer [residents] toward these businesses."
Ms. Jones said that "often black businesses fail because the people don't support them." The directory will get the word out about these businesses, she added.
By compiling this list, "our office will be able to contact black business people so we can inform them about county and state funding available to them."
Ms. Jones offered a "conservative guesstimate" that 100 black-owned businesses operate in the county.
Richard Aarons, the small business counseling manager for the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, said the guide could help bring black businesses to the attention of county buyers who annually purchase up to $100 million in materials and services for local government.
According to census data, Baltimore County's black population jumped from 8.2 percent in 1980 to 12.3 percent in 1990. The county's total population is 692,000. The minority affairs office will try to find a local black-owned firm to pay for printing of the directory, possibly in exchange for free advertising in the guide, Ms. Jones said.
A directory of minority-owned businesses is published by the county's Department of Central Services, and other local ethnic groups print similar guides.