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Brown pushes plan to award more state contracts to minority-owned business

Lt. Gov.  Anthony G. Brown released an eight-point plan Wednesday that he said will increase the number of minority-owned businesses that win state contracts.

Maryland already has one of the highest goals in the nation to award state business to companies owned and operated by women and minorities, firms that have traditionally struggled to land such contracts.

Brown’s plan, which is part of his bid for governor, suggests making it easier for businesses to get the certification required to compete for those contracts, as well as create new programs that encourage private companies to hire firms minority owned contracts.

“If we’re going to make Maryland’s business climate the most competitive in the nation, then we must give our women and minority-owned businesses every opportunity to succeed,” Brown said in a statement.

Part of the plan creates a volunteer mentorship program for established companies to encourage smaller firms to grow. Another piece would ask the insurance industry to increase the number of minority-owned businesses used as contractors. According to Brown’s campaign, the state already has similar understanding with utility companies, which are also regulated by state officials.

The state spends roughly $8 billion a year on contracts with IT, construction, engineering and other companies. In August, the state increased its goal of granting a share of government business to minority-owned companies, raising its target from 25 to 29 percent.

Brown’s plan would also increase the power and responsibility of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, giving the advisory agency a role in crafting the state budget and streamlining the process for minority-owned businesses to qualify for government contracts.

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