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Speakers laud minority entrepreneurs


The seed of minority entrepreneurship has taken root in Maryland, but it could use some nurturing.

That's the view of Stanley W. Tucker, a state official who helped put together a conference to encourage the formation of minority businesses in the Free State. Gov. William Donald Schaefer, formerAtlanta Mayor Andrew A. Young and "Today" host Bryant Gumbel were among 900 people who attended "Strategies for Success '91" at the downtown Hyatt Regency yesterday.

"Minority business development has historically been viewed as a social experiment, if you will," said Mr. Tucker, who heads the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority. "It's never been really viewed as a business, economic development strategy. We have to be a catalyst, and that's what we're doing now."

Mr. Tucker's agency and the U.S. Department of Commerce sponsored yesterday's conference, which featured workshops

outlining business strategies.

In Maryland, the state of minority business can best be described as agood news, bad news scenario, 1990 census data indicate. The state has more minority-run firms per capita than any other, but they are less profitable and smaller on average than minority-run firms nationwide.

Mr. Tucker said that although Maryland is 25 percent black, that segment of the population owns only 8.9 percent of small businesses. "If we could double that, the economic impact would be tremendous," he said.

Young, who addressed the conference, spoke of a trend in Maryland and around the nation toward the creation of more minority-run businesses.

"When I was in school at Howard [University] 40 years ago, I don't remember a single person talking about going into business," said Mr. Young, who works with an international engineering firm in Atlanta. "Not one. Black people suddenly realized that they can't depend on other folk for jobs, and they're going out creating their own companies."

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