New center opens to help minority businesses secure contracts, tap into global markets

Minority-owned businesses can receive help expanding, securing contracts and accessing large supply chains through a new center that opened Friday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced.

The Minority Business Development Agency at Johns Hopkins University will provide consulting services for established entrepreneurs and the owners of start-ups as a way to create and keep jobs in Baltimore. The center, known as MBDA Business Center-Baltimore, also is intended to help the companies tap into international markets.

The center, one of 50 in the country, is funded with a three-year, $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency. Baltimore is the only municipality to receive the grant. The services are available to minorities.

Rawlings-Blake said the center will be a resource for businesses that don't have traditional family legacies or long-standing connections and partnerships.

"There are a lot of businesses that have been able to thrive because of their legacy," the mayor said. "Their issue is not access to capital. Their issue is not business mentors. It's not lack of business collaborations or partnerships.

"But what happens to those businesses that are not legacies, and that map is not laid out before them?"

The Mayor's Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development will operate the center, located on the Hopkins campus in the Eastern Building at 1101 E. 33rd St. The center will share space with the Baltimore Development Corporation's Small Business Resource Center.

The goal is for the center to help the businesses become more competitive by receiving guidance to obtain large-scale procurement contracts, financing awards and access to global supply chains, said Sharon R. Pinder, who leads the mayor's minority and women business development efforts. The center also will provide information on how these companies can create joint ventures and enter mergers.

"If you have an idea and you don't know where to start and you're just kicking the tires, or wondering how it should be funded or how to connect to supply chains or how to market it, then what we provide are those resources to mentor you through that process," Pinder said.

The center will be available for all minority-owned businesses, but a focus will be on supporting those with annual revenues of more than $1 million, or those that participate in high-growth industries, including green technology, clean energy and health care.

The city was awarded the grant in September.

For information, call 443-451-7103.

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