Leaders of the Baltimore region’s business groups agree there is a lot of positive news to share about the small business community – and it’s an important component of the region’s success – but competing to get that positive news is a challenge.

“When people think about this region they think about Washington D.C. and Capitol Hill and all the crazy stuff that is going on there,” said Martin Rosendale, CEO of the Maryland Technology Council. “They don’t know about Baltimore.

“The world doesn’t know about Maryland, but the world depends on what we do in Maryland so we need to tell our story and celebrate these successes as loudly as we can,” said Rosendale, speaking at Baltimore Metro Business Development’s event, “2019 State of State: Local Leaders Address the Small Business Community.”

Panelists at the event, moderated by Alicia Wilson of Port Covington Impact Investments, pointed to the region’s business incubators, accelerators, startup spaces and places such as the University of Maryland BioPark as sources for success stories that need to be shared.

While there is a lot of hype around the tech firms and startups, small businesses are just as important and there are many small business stories in connection with Tradepoint Atlantic and around the Port of Baltimore, which is acquiring land and growing, said Bill Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation.

Retain Talent from Local Universities
Another opportunity and challenge – the many educational institutions in the Baltimore region that are “pumping out amazing talent,” he said. “We need to find ways to keep them here.”

The World Trade Center Institute’s Lydia Yodie said business leaders must be open to partnerships and learn from those in industries outside of their own; if you are a CEO, don’t just connect with other CEOs.

“Be open-minded, engage with others, and don’t just surround yourself with people who are just like you,” Yodie said. “Share your stories because the more we know about you and your experiences the more we can establish this as a region and a community. The greater impact we can have on Maryland, the greater impact we can have on the world.”

“My message to entrepreneurs is to enjoy it because it’s an exciting ride, it’s up and down and you may lose and you may win, but the ride itself is extremely exciting and powerful,” said TEDCO CEO George Davis. “You are the center of our universe. It’s not about us, it’s about you. Reach out to us. Come to our website. We are here to help.”

Stay in Maryland; Take Advantage of Resources
Sharon (Markley) Schreiber, COO of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, encouraged the business leaders in the audience to continue to find customers, grow and even get acquired if that’s part of the plan, but most of all: remain in Maryland and continue to grow.

Schreiber pointed to two initiatives by Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration to help small businesses: the Maryland Business Express website with resources and links to information on starting, managing and growing a business in Maryland, and the Maryland Workforce Expressway website. Previously spread across many state agencies, the Expressway is a single source for links to talent engagement services, workforce education, hiring incentives, workforce training grants, labor and industry standards, and reemployment services.

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