Created on May 20, 2014
Maryland’s Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs hosted their 5th Annual MBE University Conference and Expo at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore on May 20.
The event was a unique forum, combining educational workshops with business development and networking opportunities that meet the unique needs of small, minority and women-owned businesses.
“The workshops, exhibitors and matchmakers who participated in this conference were all chosen with the intent of adding great value to our small, minority and women-owned entrepreneurs,” said Zenita Wickham Hurley, Special Secretary, Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.
Several federal government representatives addressed more than 200 attendees during the opening session. The speakers included Congressman Elijah Cummings, U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, Sharon R. Pinder, Director, Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development, and Joann Hill, Chief, Office of Business Development, Minority Business Development Agency.
“Each minority business enterprise attending today’s conference represents job creation and economic growth,” said Hill. “Through your businesses, each of you keeps your community, city and state thriving and moving forward economically. That is an invaluable contribution and is to be applauded.”
After the opening session, the crowd dispersed into one of the three designated areas that included workshops, exposition hall and the matchmaking seminar.
One area that was buzzing with both buyers and resource partners was the exposition hall.
“This conference is critical because access to capital is the key to the growth of a business,” said Timothy Smooth, Senior Vice President of Meridian Management Group. “It’s important for me to attend because it allows me the opportunity to develop business relationships with entrepreneurs who have the need for access to capital. I provide them information on how they can apply and obtain available capital in the state of Maryland.”
Hurley said they host two conferences annually, as well as three regional workshops every quarter. After the event, the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs will follow-up with the attendees through various surveys in an attempt to get information back to show if the conference provided the resources and tools they needed, and whether they made the connection that ultimately led to a contract and the ability to grow their business.