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County Executive Forms Task Force to Expand Opportunities for Women and Minorities

Annapolis, MD (February 6, 2007) - Building on the success of women and minority-owned businesses in Anne Arundel County, County Executive John R. Leopold announced the creation of an internal task force that will make recommendations to continue promoting diversity and equal business opportunities.

"It is critical that we continue this momentum, and I am charging the members of this task force to find ways to increase the visibility as well as opportunities for women and minority-owned business in this county," said County Executive Leopold.

Recent statistics from a survey of business owners released by the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Anne Arundel County women-owned business with paid employees 3rd in the state. Survey results also indicated that there are nearly 11,000 women-owned businesses in the County which are sole proprietor with no employees. There are a total of 12,790 women-owned businesses in the County, generating nearly $1.5 billion in sales and receipts for 2002.

According to the survey, African American-owned businesses in the County ranked 6th for both sole proprietor and firms with paid employees. There are a total of 2,623 African American-owned businesses generating nearly $169 million in sales and receipts annually. The survey was part of the 2002 Economic Census.

On a local level, Anne Arundel County government had a banner year regarding women and minority-owned business participation. Specifically the County spent approximately $281 million in Calendar year 2006, of which approximately $32 million was awarded to woman and minority-owned businesses.

"This progress regarding woman and minority-owned businesses must continue to ensure diverse and equal opportunities to the residents who work and live here," said County Executive Leopold.

The task force will consist of Sheryl E. Banks, Special Assistant for Minority Affairs; Fred Schramm, Director of Central Services; Bill Schull, Director of Purchasing; Joanne Jackson, MBE Coordinator; Gregory Nourse, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Management Services for Anne Arundel County Public Schools; Stanley W. Behnken, Director of Business Support Services, Anne Arundel Community College, Vanessa Morales, and Mark Chang of the Office of Community & Constituent Services.

The Maryland Department of Transportation released a study in March 2006, which acknowledges a disparity of business opportunities based on gender and race throughout the state. County Executive Leopold will use the report as a baseline for data instead of conducting a new study, saving the county $500,000. That money could be used for initiatives to advance women and minority-owned businesses in the future. In addition, the task force will consider existing policies and procedures and how the current Women/Minority Business program can be improved.

"It is my responsibility to be a good steward of the taxpayers dollars, we can accomplish setting a precedence for other areas by using existing information to further our cause," County Executive Leopold said.

The County Executive reminds all small business owners to take advantage of the services available, free of charge at the Small Business Resource Center. For more information on business assistance go to the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation website.


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