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City to hold minority business seminar

February 24, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown will hold a seminar March 8 to help minority business owners learn about available resources and opportunities, including registering as minority-owned businesses in order to qualify for certain state contracts.

"The seminar is being held to help minority business owners find out what opportunities and resources are available and how to take advantage of them," City Economic Development Director Deborah A. Everhart said in a press release.

Scheduled to speak at the event at The Grand Venice Inn are: Everhart; Hagerstown City Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean; Katie Knowlin, director of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise; Carlos Abinader, outreach program manager for the minority business enterprise office; Candy Raynard, program director for the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Program; Alice Growden, of the Small Business Development Center; and Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

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The State of Maryland defines a Minority Business Enterprise as one that "is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more minority persons." Minorities, according to the state's definition, include people who are African-American, Hispanic-American, Native American, women or disabled.

Parson-McBean said by not registering with the state, businesses are missing out on the opportunity to compete for state contracts open specifically to minority-owned and -operated enterprises. According to the Web site for the Maryland Department of Transportation's Office of Minority Business Enterprise, 19 businesses in Hagerstown are registered as minority businesses.

The seminar is part of a larger minority business program the city initiated last fall. The city held its first event, a luncheon for minority business owners, in late January. Parson-McBean said she hopes minority business owners will be able to network through the program and develop shared resources that will benefit themselves, the city and Washington County.

"The program was basically born out of a lack of one here in Hagerstown," Parson-McBean said. "It didn't exist. I saw that we didn't have one, and when I saw we didn't have one, I saw a lack of opportunity," Parson-McBean said.

The seminar will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and is free to minority business owners. Participants are asked to register by calling 301-739-8577, ext. 112.

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